Sunday, April 07, 2013

Sunday Selections - Alhambra Aquatica

Alhambra (in Granada) is Spain's most-visited site and we were determined to get our egg-beater-for-an-engine hire car over there to see it.  The contraption was so small the back seat had to be flattened to get our suitcase inside and we did our best to heed the traffic warnings:















In a place known for temperatures of 45-48C in the 'high' season, we felt a bit like tourists who visit Ayers Rock/Uluru during a thunderstorm: slightly damp due to rain rather than sweat, and well aware that not many get to experience it in this way.



Kicking off as a fortress in the 8th century, becoming a Moorish palace by the 11th and reclaimed by the Spanish Catholics in 1492, the place has seen a few changes, additions, dodgy renovations, vandalism, refurbs and a tourist or two.  Granada was barely visible during the drizzle and the ticketing system was run on an almost Swiss-like, humourlessly strict 30-minute basis.  Miss your slot and you don't get sent to the back of the line: you get told to bugger off and try and book for another day.



















Rain I can handle; bone chilling breezes are what make being a traveller with nowhere to hide until late afternoon check-in a nightmare.  Luckily was wet but mild and the grey skies helped make the intricate stone carvings stand out even more.

It was a genuine joy to see how Sapphire responded to the place. "I will come back here again," she gasped, "I have to."
















Whilst admiring the endless rooms of painted tiles (not allowed to be photographed due to the need for the use of flash), 'glory to god' carvings, blue and green alabaster ceilings and courtyards that would have been the coolest places to recover during a blistering summer day, it was hard not to wonder how the poor peasants of Granada felt seeing an enormous mini-city of opulence literally looking down over their town.


















The Four Minute Showerer may have left her birth country, but couldn't help seeing the water tumbling down and thinking, 'What this joint needs are a few humungous corrugated iron tanks dotted about and some guttering."


The flowers were in a mild state of shock.



"This is crazy, yes," said a museum guide, watching as an inner courtyard turned into a plunge pool.  We all had to jump in as the circuit only went one way and Alhambra doesn't tolerate tourists who don't toe the line or move in an orderly clockwise direction towards the overpriced gift shop.



Perhaps I've left it a bit late in this piece to let you know just how dazzled and impressed and inspired we were by the place?  



And how my photographs don't do it justice?  Especially the ones where I'd left a fingerprint on the lens so that the famous lion fountain could only be glimpsed behind what looked like a lonely cloud?



Wet through yes; in awe and thrilled to be there, yes times a hundred.



Sapphire's currently working on a painting for her bedroom based on some of the recurring patterns she saw here and immediately answers 'Alhambra' when polite adults ask her what the highlight of her holiday was.




A slight whinge about to occur now, but nothing to do with the all-encompassing amazingness of Alhambra.  I try to be a nice person and hopefully succeed in this endeavour at least fifty one percent of the time. If a couple are taking photos and one poses in front of the monument/silly sign/tower/river/ski field/castle, I'll wander over and ask if they'd like to me take their portrait together, as otherwise it's likely they'll end up with an album full of selfies (see above) or of each photo featuring just one of them.

"Yes please," they'll eagerly reply, but here's my beef: why don't they ever offer to take OURS for us?  I can count on one bloody hand how many photos of The Lockett Three there are in existence.



Fingerprint smear, flash bouncing off the glass and someone scraping the side of my eyebrow with their passing umbrella be damned: this is the kind of garden I'll have when the lotto gods smile upon me. 















And orange trees.  I eat an orange every single morning before breakfast (it's true: ask Love Chunks or Sapphire) and smelling their spring blossoms even in the down pour made the relative lack of chocolate an afterthought.

You haven't seen the last of us Locketts, Spain.

21 comments:

Jackie K said...

I was like Sapphire - absolutely awestruck and fell in love with the Alhambra when I visited with my parents as a 15 year old. One of the world's magic places.
I dragged my cousin there when we went backpacking in our 20s, but most of it was closed off for renovations and she didn't get why i was raving so madly about it.

YES you are right about photos - I've had the same experience. And I never walk in front when someone's taking a photo and they don't always hurry or thank you for waiting.

Kath Lockett said...

It's tough visiting a wondrous place during big renovations, isn't it? Jackie, all you could do was convince your friend to visit it another day when plastic sheeting, scaffolds and detours aren't in force. We'd like to come back in summer or at least on a drier day.

drwife said...

I tried to go to Alhambra in 2006 but I was having complications with my pregnancy and couldn't walk through it. I got as far as seeing Granada and eating lunch. Seeing your photos of the gardens make me even more determined to go there now! Thanks for sharing!

Kath Lockett said...

My pleasure, drwife. And yes, go when you're not heavily preggers :)

Hannah said...

Oh, it makes my heart soar so to see you and Sapphire so happy, so light, so full of love.

And you know what? I can totally get behind a fresh orange in the morning. JUST NOT IN THE CHOCOLATE, OKAY?

Pandora Behr said...

Love the place - and I concur about those tourists who don't offer to take your photo back.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks, Hannah. Rest assured though, that we have our 'moments'...!

Glad it's not just me and the photo thing, Pandora!

Elephant's Child said...

Oooh. Magic. And I would be happy to have that garden myself. (Not happy to maintain it though).
And those who do not offer to reciprocate witht the camera are mannerless gits. Shame there are so many of them.

Kath Lockett said...

E-Child, it goes without saying that the Lotto Gods would also provide gardeners to keep the courtyard greenery looking good. Otherwise my Black Thumbs of Ignorance and Death would work their dark and evil spells...

River said...

I've heard of the Alhambra a bit, now and again it pops up in stories, but I had no idea it was this big or this lovely. You know now I'm going straight to google and spend happy hours looking at it. yes, Hours.
May the lotto Gods smile on you soon.

Your visual verification word box is empty, so I'll press publish and wait to be rejected.....
Aha! There it is, the second one...

Red Nomad OZ said...

Oh c'mon! Where's your imagination?!?! That fingerprint smudge could EASILY be passed off as a fancy light effect due to the humidity/rain/atmosphere ...

It's a great pity globalisation can't somehow balance out rainfall inequality, huh?!?!

FruitCake said...

How frightfully ignorant I am... had no idea such a palace existed.

But thanks for the tour! It's definitely a bucket lister.

Ellena said...

May 5,2001 my diary shows the words 'jewel, magnificent view, gardens 5 km walk'. No mention about rain. I enjoyed the 'encore' visit today.

Kath Lockett said...

River, it's worth a visit either online or in person. I'll buy a lottery ticket (the Swiss version) this week!

RedNomadOz, I think that too - why can't we magically ship flood waters to parts of the globe they're desperately needed?

Fruitcake, it is. I only had a vague idea of it too but Wikipedia's a godsend when it comes to planning holidays.

Thank you, Ellena, and welcome.

Anji said...

Lovely guided tour. You've certainly seen more of Europe than a lot of Europeans.

I eat an orange first everyday too - a useful tip from a midwife, er... many years ago now.

Kath Lockett said...

Thanks Anji. Glad to hear that orange-eating is supported by midwives; I just think they're delicious! (oranges, not midwives).

wilbo43 said...

You are in such a lucky spot to check out Europe, by train car or air. Enjoy it while you are there.

Kath Lockett said...

Wilbo43, we spend most of our time - even at home in Geneva - in a mild state of 'HOW LUCKY ARE WE TO BE HERE?' despite my grumbles on this 'ere blog.

Plastic Mancunian said...

Bonjour Kath,

I almost visited Alhambra on an Interail tour of Spain - but we ran out of time and had to give it a miss.

It is on the list ...

:-)

Cheers

PM

diane b said...

Shame about the weather. I know where you are coming from with finger and umbrellas getting in the way. Once again you have me giggling. Its great to hear a young teen enjoyed the tour. It rained for 3 days that we were in Madrid so we did all the art galleries and we went into a dry theatre and watched the stage musical Mama Mia in Spanish.

Kath Lockett said...

PlasMan, as a regular Spain-visitor (Spisitor?) you MUST GO.

Thanks, Dianeb!