Photos from our travels around the Andalucía region of southern Spain, visiting the towns and cities of Córdoba, Sevilla, Ronda, Granada and Málaga. Our fourth stop, the Moorish stronghold of Granada.
Breakfast and an early checkout from our hotel today, to catch a mid-morning train from Ronda back to Córdoba. We were by now familiar with this route, with a diesel locomotive on the wide gauge rails through the mountain scenery as far as Antequera, where it was changed to the faster electric standard gauge locomotive for Córdoba.
I had looked into the possibility of a direct train to Granada, passing through Antequera Junction, but it seems that construction work is still ongoing on the new high speed line between Antequera and Granada. So the best route I could organise in advance was by train back to Córdoba followed by a coach onwards to Granada. It meant having to wait an hour or so at Córdoba, although the bus station immediately next door to the train station is circular in layout with a pretty looking central garden to relax in. The principal coach company in Andalucía is ALSA, and we used their ALSA Supra service for this journey, complete with free Wi-Fi and seat-back TV screens showing a range of entertainment. Tickets booked via Trainline.com. Nearly three hours later, we were leaving Granada bus station in a taxi for the two mile journey to our stop for the next two nights close by the Cathedral, the Hotel Reina Cristina.
Most of the day had been spent travelling, so once we had checked in, we were glad to get out again for the evening to explore Granada’s Moorish quarter, the Albaicín. Firstly, we headed uphill to the El Mirador de San Nicolás viewpoint, where we could look across the valley to the now floodlit Alhambra complex on the opposite hillside.
Then back downhill in the search for something to eat. There’s an area around the Calle Elvira which is full of bustling side-streets with Morroccan shops, restaurants and tearooms. We picked somewhere at random, but it was a little pricey and the food was nothing exceptional.
The next morning, we were out early to properly explore the Alhambra palaces and Generalife gardens. It’s the most-visited monument in Spain, so booking tickets in advance online was essential. Tickets cost us 14.85€ each, from the official website. The site opened at 8.30am, and our timed entrance to the Nasrid Palaces at its heart was for 11am. Rather bizarrely, our hotel didn’t appear to be offering a breakfast buffet, and instead we were pointed towards their attached cafe which opened onto the street. Not what we were expecting for a hefty fixed price, so we cancelled that bit and grabbed coffee and croissants elsewhere on our walk to the Alhambra.
Once inside the complex, our first tour was of the ruined fortress or Alcazaba, with its commanding views over the surrounding area. Then on to the Palacio de Carlos V, which houses a couple of museums, the Museo de Bellas Artes (fine arts) and the Museo de la Alhambra where we could see its magnificent collection of Nasrid Art.
Shortly before 11am, we queued up outside the Nasrid Palaces ready for our entrance slot. There are three palaces within this group, and all of them have stunning Islamic decoration within, including some immaculately carved stonework detail.
I think we were both agreed that this was a highlight of our trip to Andalucía, and the simple elegance of the craftsmanship was superior in every way to the ostentatious or vulgar ‘bling’ that we had seen in some of the Christian attractions we had visited.
The Nasrid Palaces lead out onto some water garden terraces to explore, and some interesting towers built into the length of the exterior walls. From there, we moved uphill into the Generalife gardens. This Summer Palace for the Moorish leaders comprises of a series of interconnected courtyards with fountains and formal planting.
As a viewpoint, the Generalife is quite impressive. It’s set slightly higher up on the hillside, although with a defensive ditch and wall between it and the Alhambra.
After visiting the Alhambra we headed back towards the Albaicín for a light lunch. Even the simplest of salads are beautifully prepared and presented everywhere we’ve been, and a glass of the local CruzCampo beer always seems to go well with the food. Then a stroll back to our hotel for a siesta, visiting the Baños Árabes (Arab Baths) and the souvenir shops along the way.
In the evening, after much looking around, we finally settled upon La Bicicleta just off the curiously named Plaza de Bib-Rambla, where we had a Tapas sharing selection along with another really nice Ribera crianza. The next morning, we would be heading back to Málaga.