Sunday, August 10, 2008

The Alhambra

Trip to the Alhambra - 041
The Alhambra (viewed from the Generalife)

During our holiday we decided to visit the Alhambra which is only an hour and a half journey away from where we were staying. Rather than drive to Granada we thought we'd use the trains and were absolutely stunned at the experience. We arrived at a somewhat "rustic" train station in Antequera where the crossing across the tracks was a couple of railway sleepers with some tarmac ontop... The train pulled into the station and we initially thought we were in the first class carriage (by British standards) as there was enough leg room for me to stretch my legs out, the seat had plenty of width, had headrest protectors and the carriage was air conditioned. This train cost Louise and I the whopping figure of €6.30 each - for an 90 minute journey!! On the way back we were on a slightly better train which was a larger tilting train, with even more leg room and a reclining seat - a mere €7!! They had vending machines on this train where I bought a bottle of water for €0.60 and a packet of Oreo biscuits for €0.80! Unbelievable!! I have no idea what the "Alta" line (Spain's newest high speed network) is like if this is what their normal network is...

Anyway, back to the point. We've wanted to visit the Alhambra for a while so we prebooked our tickets (essential as they only let so many in each session) and left Bruno (our Boxer dog) at Louise's Mum and Dad's so we didn't have to worry about him and could spend longer there. We arrived at the station in Granada at 11.30 in the morning and our tickets for the Alhambra were for 14.00 so we had plenty of time to get there. We walked and eventually got to where we wanted (Plaza Neuva - a small square in the old town of Granada called Albaycin) which had lot's of bars so we stopped by for lunch. We only found out the day before, but Granada has kept the tradition of free tapas - i.e. every time you order a drink, they will bring out free food!! We bought some tapas anyway and along with the freebies were pretty stuffed for our steep (on foot) ascent toward the Alhambra. We discovered later on there are buses up the mile long hill for a euro each which we should have taken!! The queues at the entrance were enormous, but thanks to the fact we'd booked our tickets we could go straight to the front and collect them; afterwards we joined an even longer queue to enter the complex. Presumably this queue was so long because it was just opening for the afternoon.

We visited the Generalife gardens first and walked around the palaces there before walking to our pre booked entrance time to the Palacio Nazaries (they give you a predetermined time to enter these palaces to stop everyone walking around at once). After this we walked around the Carlos Palace and around an Art Gallery there (free for EU passport holders). We then walked around the Alcazaba before calling it a day; I think we only covered about half the Alhambra and could easily do it again. We bought a souvenir booklet which will certainly help on our next visit! I noticed a few people had radios which gave audio information depending on the area they were in which was a good idea and can presumably be hired at the ticket desk. Also the Alhambra was "bluetooth enabled" unfortunately I didn't know what this did as neither of us had a mobile with us which has bluetooth...

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Palaces in the Generalife Gardens

We walked back down the hill to Plaza Neuva and since our train back was after 8 we decided to find a restaurant in Albaycin which was open (unusual since it was only six, but we tried anyway). We should have stuck with the tapas bar we were in earlier, but we found an open restaurant and had an "acceptable" meal. We got a taxi back to the station before waiting for our train.

Well worth the trip!! Highly recommended. The Alhambra was absolutely stunning and we discovered a little more about Granada which we didn't know, we'll definitely return!

All my photos have been added to flickr!
Alhambra Flickr! Set

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