Christmas in Spain– Granada and the Magic of the Alhambra

Alhambra steven duffelbagspouse Granada Spain

Wandering the Alhambra in Granada

I was exhilarated at the prospect of exploring the Alhambra’s courtyards in Granada. With a confident stride, the four of us bypassed the less informed crowds. I kept silent about the fact that our online tickets were worthless. Regrettably, we had missed our flight and consequently, our scheduled entrance time had elapsed hours before. Despite this setback, I had no intention of enduring that endless queue.

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We Made it to Granada

If there was a casualty of the trip and our itinerary it was the Alhambra. I had purchased tickets for the Moorish castle online and could not trade our tickets once we finally arrived.

The drive to Granada took less than an hour. I couldn’t contain myself; I was finally going to wander the inner courtyards of the Alhambra. Online receipt in hand we strolled past the extremely long line of the less informed and made our way up to the automated ticket machines to the left of the gift shop. An English sign instructs you to insert the credit card you used to make your reservation before it spits out your tickets. No reservation found.

Oops… My Bad

I strolled up to the manned counter, unknowingly past a very long line of patrons only to find there were no more tickets to the palace available. We had missed our reservation. I purchased the tickets to the Generalife (gardens surrounding the palace) when a security guard came to escort me out of line. I apologized with an “I’m a stupid American look” and he patted my shoulder and wished me a good day. Wouldn’t be the first time I apologized after the fact… won’t be the last.

Alhambra and Generalife

Medieval fountains dance, fruit, and nut trees provide shade and jubilant mosaics overwhelm all your senses. The Alhambra, originally built in the 13th century out of the native red clay that gives it its name, housed Muslim royalty until the reconquest in 1492. It sits high above the city in a highly defensible position which explains why it was able to outlast the Christian forces for more than 200 years. My only regret is not being able to see the inside of the palace grounds.

Beware of the Gypsies

My eyes focused downward at my map, I did not see the ambush that awaited me in the parking lot. An ancient-looking gypsy woman grabbed my hand firmly, dabbing my hand with something that looked like coriander.

I tried, unsuccessfully to hand her back her sprig of herbs several times. She was relentless, muttering something in Spanish. Only able to recognize a few words, she was apparently reading my fortune. I handed her a 2 Euro coin and tried to catch up with my family. But apparently that was not nearly enough. I saw a few other women approaching from behind some parked cars. She tugged on my clothing, begging and pleading for more— I felt physically assaulted. I handed her another coin and broke out in a sprint.

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El Albaicin

El Albaicín is a lively neighborhood in Granada on the hill opposite the Alhambra. It’s a great place to get your flamenco fix. Or eat some traditional Moroccan food. You can wander the narrow, winding streets that haven’t changed since the Moors walked them centuries ago. Many of the city’s gypsies and musicians live in the El Albaicin. And the view of the awe-inspiring Alhambra can be enjoyed at sunset from the Church of San Nicolas.

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