Monday, July 15, 2013

Granada, Spain: Alhambra, Pension Austria, etc...

We took the bus from Murcia to Granada.  The most famous site in Granada, and perhaps one of the most famous sites in the world is the Alhambra. It was originally built as a fortress in the late 800's and in the 1300's became a royal palace. It has gone through many conquests and reconquests and what remains is a fascinating mixture of architecture.  We had tickets to visit the Nasrid Palace, which only allows a certain number of visitors in each hour.  Our tickets were for 7:00 in the evening and we were able to visit the other parts of the Alhambra the two hours prior to going into Nasrid Palace.  Ben had been there before and after seeing it myself I could see why he (and clearly many others :) are impressed.  Pictures really don't do it justice, but of course, we make an effort. 
View from the balcony of the inner court gardens.  Lots of citrus trees.
If you are like me, you recall the name Alhambra from the card game, "Authors" (which Shane, Kate and I played with both our Myers and Teixeira cousins :).  Yes, Washington Irving really did live here in the Alhambra back in 1829 when he wrote that book.
If you are like Ben, then you knew that the Alhambra was a really neat place and you spent your free time constructing an award winning replica of the Court of Lions (see photo below of the actual court) for high school Spanish festival competitions.
The interior décor has unbelievable detail.
The Alhambra is not the only thing interesting about Granada.  The photo above was taken in the ancient "water treatment plant" (I'm sure Ben's dad, Ron, will appreciate this :) in Granada.  We happened upon the historic site and noticed that they gave free tours.  The guide spent an hour and a half telling us about the history of the area, explaining the scale models of the water systems and giving an overview of various cultural perspectives. 
We ate a nice lunch in this restaurant somewhere in the narrow streets of the Albayzin section of Granada.  There are several Turkish, Iraqi and other Middle Eastern-type restaurants in Granada.  The "menu del dia" specials are pretty good--a "3 course" offerta for about 8 euros.
Ben in front of Pension Austria, Granada
We spent 2 nights here in Pension Austria, a hosteleria we read about in Rick Steve's Travel Guide.  It was very clean, comfortable, convenient and the cost was extremely reasonable. We could walk up the hill to the Alhambra (caution, it is not an easy climb!). (By the way, we don't automatically recommend every place we visit.  One in Seville won't get a bad review from us, but neither will it get a recommendation.)  Here's the link for Pension Austria.  The photos on the website very accurate and this site is quite user-friendly.;label=pension-austria-QYeaBEPDLvlEWoiTF1PRCwS19528251553:pl:ta:p1:p2:ac:ap1t1:neg;ws=&gclid=CNvwq8ijsrgCFTMRtAodWEYAFQ

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