Burton Dane Travels

We're traveling through Europe and parts nearby for a year. We'll be posting our pix and adventures here.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Granada





We’ve been through some great cities the last few weeks but the stand out for me was Granada and walking through the Alhambra. First, we had our favorite campground situation. Small, with simple facilities, quiet and dark at night. The showers had an adjustable mix and were regular valves, not time-release pushbuttons. The restaurant was upscale and the people at reception were friendly and helpful. Of course they had fresh baguettes every morning. It was walking distance into a small town (La Zubia) and there were buses every 20 minutes into the main city (Granada). They even had Wifi at the campsite (I couldn’t connect to it, but not for lack of trying).

Granada is inland at 2000 feet and has the snow covered Sierra Nevada mountains in the background. It has great plazas with fountains and broad tree-lined walking streets. We had clear, crisp weather that made us sit at sunny cafe tables. The good restaurants, shopping and street entertainment made for city fun.

The main attractions are the Alhambra, the Generalife and the Albaizin. The Alhambra is a palace and fortress built by the Moors (Muslims from Africa) then occupied and added to by the Catholic Royalty. The outstanding parts are Moorish. The Sultans ruled these lands for 500 years and when the Catholics defeated them, they obliterated their mosques and other buildings. The Alhambra must have been too nice to destroy cause it’s in great shape. Washington Irving wrote a book describing his stays xxxx years ago. Fascinating, fantastic history. Our pictures don’t show how appealing it is.
I’m drawn to how understated it is. There is water running throughout it in channels, fountains and pools. There are little rooms with sweeping views of the valleys, walled gardens with fruit trees and intricate tile, plaster and woodwork.
The Generalife is a series gardens and buildings mostly built by the moors. For us, the main attractions were the immense labyrinth gardens and the water flowing throughout.

The Albaizin is the old Islamic quarter on a hillside near the town center. It’s a maze of shops, tea houses and restaurants. I turned us around the first time we entered because I couldn’t find us on the map. A few more turns and I wouldn’t know how to get back. We tried again using the bus to get us to the top and easily walked down. We had sweet mint tea and bought evil eyes and scarves before leaving.

Our campsite started to fill with skiers and snowboarders. Nearby was the only open Spanish ski area. It only had 2 out of 76 km of runs open and was limiting the tickets to 1500 a day. I imagine the crush was horrible. All of the ski (and garden) talk here is of global warming. Austria’s ski areas are mostly mud. It seems all of Europe will have a late start to its ski season. The news stories are about what the changes will be as opposed to whether they are going to happen.
We are off for the tiny mountainside village of Pompenaria then Gibraltar (and its apes!)

3 Comments:

  • At 7:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Spain really sounds great and we are glad you are all able to enjoy. So, I am anxious to hear about the barbary apes. How long do you plan to stay in spain? Beautiful pictures. love Mom

     
  • At 10:42 PM , Anonymous Kelli Hickle said...

    Your pictures are absolutely beautiful! You should definatly be a travel agent. All this talk of crisp weather and cafe tables makes me want to buy a plane ticket immediatly. I'm glad you guys are enjoying Spain :-). How long are you going to be in Europe for? I think this summer me and a couple of my friends are going backpacking for our senior trip. Any suggestions? Stay safe!!!
    Kelli

     
  • At 11:11 AM , Blogger Burton Danes said...

    We have tons of suggestions! I'd start with the "First time to Europe" Rough Guide. It has an overview of many countries and some great info on travel in general. Also, check out Lonely Planet's Blue List book. It has lots of events and extraordinary places to visit. It's really hard not to want to go everywhere but it just doesn't work well. Even spending 3 nights at a place means 1 where you're travelling, 2 days enjoying a place, then another day travelling. If you can avoid popular places in July and August, you'll find it easier to find nice rooms, seats and tables. We plan to be bumping around here till about August, let us know what you're planning to do! Mark

     

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