Stranded In The Southland

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Alhambra -- Done and Done

Okay, my buddy D. suggested that the one thing not to miss in Spain was the Alhambra in Granada. Consider it done and done.

We first tried to head up there last evening, but no buses were running, and M. and I got fairly aggravated trying to catch one. So much for the guidebook's, "every 5 to 11 minutes." We should've just snagged a taxi, but we were far too overheated to even begin to think straight.

After a couple glasses of wine, we headed back, and caught a bus with no problem. My idea was to scout out the Alhambra (a gigantic Muslim fort sitting above the town) before paying 10 Euros for tickets the next day.

The big deal in the Alhambra is the Muslim palace, complete with amazing carvings and wonderful water features. There are also really big, cool-looking fortifications, and some amazing gardens. For some reason, they only sell 6,000 tickets a day to the whole Alhambra, and they give you a half-hour time slot to gain entry to the palace.

Somehow, we wound up spending 10 Euros on a night-time tour of just a few of the highlights. It was awesome to wander around in the cool, quiet ruins, and check out the palace with just a few people. It was totally different at night, and wonderful.

Alas, when we got done at 11:30PM, the bus had stopped running, and my usually pretty decent navigation broke down and got us back to our hotel by the long way. M. was not happy. I was not happy. Our feet were definitely not happy. Bummer.

The good part was that we got to see the palace, so some of the pressure was off of us to get tickets the next day. The guides suggest getting there at 8AM when the ticket windows open (or earlier in the summer, when things get really crowded).

We just slept in after our death march of the night before, and got up there around 11AM. And got tickets right away. Woo hoo!

I really enjoyed the fortifications and the amazing gardens, full of rectangular pools and wonderful fountains. The palace was even more impressive during the daytime.

We'd sprung for the audio tour, as, like many other European cultural sites, there was almost no signage. That's probably because the signs would have to be huge to have Spanish, French, English, and who knows what else. But it sucks.

The audio tour was full of pompous cliches about this "unique site" and its historical implications. Really tough to listen to. I'm really tempted to try to create my own parody audio tour when I get home, but I have to find a pompous enough site to really take the piss out of. Hmmm.

Other than that, it was a fine time. The Alhambra may be just a wee bit overhyped, but I'd certainly never seen anything like it, and I can already think of some impressive architecture I've seen that was undoubtedly influenced by it. Cool beans.