2100 hrs, Hotel Molinos, Granada

I just can’t believe that we were at the Alhambra for 6 whole hours – the whole of the afternoon opening. As i am writing this drivel, I am also resting my poor tired feet. 13th-century cobblestoned paths just don’t do it for me. I am sure that our previous visits to the Alcázar and the mezquita had taken its toll on them soles as well. Nonetheless, it was bloody worth it.

We caught the minibus at Plaza Nueva after our kebab lunch. For a euro, it’ll take you up the hill to the main entrance. For any of you wishing to visit this wonder of the ancient world, booking your tix online would be a sensible idea as they only let a set number of people in every day. The queue was enormous but not for us. The actual queue for visitors with tickets were just as long but it moved really quick. Being the absolute kiasu tourist, we legged it to the Palacios Nazaries. With a 30-minute window to get in, it was a wise move, really. We had to endure another queue in front of the mexuar, but we got in after 20-odd minutes of waiting. What followed for the next few hours or so, was a feast for these eyes of ours. If i had worn a white shirt, khaki chinos and a fedora, I’d probably be climbing up its walls looking for hidden door panels.

[Try checking out this site, for a virtual online tour of the Alhambra.]

The Alhambra visit had three bits to it. We spent most of our time at the Palacio Nazaries. Every time I got to a water fountain, I took the opportunity to cool down or refill our water bottles. The Palacio de Carlos V was really a large waste of space – the guy actually destroyed one wing of the Nasrid palace to built this half-built palace. One wonders whether that was done merely to piss the moors off! The Alcazaba (from the Arabic al-qasaba) was one of the oldest surviving part of the Alhambra which was an impressive fortification which overlooked the Albaicín and Sacromonte. After a series of stops for water and snacks, we finally made our way to the Generalife. That’s gair-nurr-rah-lee-fay. Not flippin’ general life. It’s from jannah al-arif – the architect’s garden.

I don’t have words (or most probably I am just too bleedin’ tired to think of anything smart to write) to describe the beauty of the Alhambra. To think it’s one of the only surviving Muslim structures from the middle ages in the world (caliphs in the past like the Bani Abbasiah also built palaces in Baghdad but they always get destroyed in wars and the like). You take a look at the pics above and in my flickr set of the Alhambra and you will see why.

Recommended reads:
1. The Alhambra, by Robert Irwin (Profile Books). Dissecting the facts from the myths. A concise read and great if you read it before visiting.
2. Sharizal’s brief travelog of the Alhambra at p-cubed.

2330hrs, Hotel Molinos, Granada

After a refreshing shower, it was time to hit the Albaicín quarter again – this time in search for a proper meat-fest. This place was one of the recommendations made by the Lonely Planet, and it wasn’t a disappointment. We were served by Mustafa, the manager, a friendly Moroccan chap who was able to converse fluently in Spanish, French and English.

“Where are you from?”
“Aaaaaaah. Malaisie. Your president, Nik Azeeeez. Kilantaaaaaaan. He ate here.”
“Yes. He sat right there.” (pointing to two tables away from us at the corner)

Definitely halal, then. Not sure about him being president, though.

Ninie had the succulent lamb tajine whilst i opted for a pastela de pollo which was a kind of sweet Moroccan murtabak ayam. Mine was okay but I did wish I had gone for the tajine as well. After such a hearty meal, we did consider trying one last time to look for flamenco. Somehow, and much to my surprise, I decided otherwise. I was simply knackered from the Alhambra shenanigans. I knew I would be missing something really Andalusian, with me being into guitars and all.

But looking back, I have seen, tasted and felt so much of Andalusia. InsyaAllah, panjang umur I will return.