After cruising the Mediterranean for 7 days, we took a flight from Barcelona to Malaga. A very delayed flight meant we only had an afternoon to explore this tourist mecca and capital of the Costa del Sol. I wasn't particularly looking forward to the visit, but it was on our itinerary as a means of beginning our journey through Andalusia. I immediately fell in love. Well, with its old city. I'm quite sure that if I was a British tourist, I might well love its beaches and sunshine too.
The timing of our visit also helped.
Our afternoon was spent exploring the old cities narrow, cobbled streets, lined with al fresco restaurants and lemon trees. We marvelled at the architecture and wandered down to the waterfront, where we surprisingly, took a boat cruise out of the harbour. This gave us a great view of the coastline.
Unfortunately there was no time to explore its hilltop citadels, the Alcazaba and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of the Moorish rule from 700 to 1400 AD, but Granada, Cordoba and Seville, more than made up for that.
Mid morning on Sunday, we took the 'Super Alsa Coach' to Granda - 1 1/2 hours. A wonderful journey through mountains and olive groves.
It was a fascinating 20 min taxi ride from the bus station, through old city lanes, to our accommodation at the Hotel Reina Cristina, situated a few hundred metres from the Cathedral and decorated in typical Andalusian style.
We had arrived at the beginning of the national holiday weekend for All Saints Day. People from all over the country return to their city, town, village to lay flowers on the graves of their deceased relatives, on November 1. Celebrations for Halloween were also taking place.
The sky was a magical clear blue, the temperature was pleasantly cool and their was no wind.
I wish I could put into words, the incredible atmosphere throughout the old city, as we wandered through its alleyways, streets and squares. At best, there was a hum of total relaxation and happiness emanating from, the not at all overwhelming crowds, seen strolling, chatting in family groups, drinking or dining at the sidewalk cafes and bars.
All we had to do was step outside our hotel entrance to relax at this bar.
So many streets without cars, added to our enjoyment. The streets however, were yet again, challenging the leg muscles.
Paseo del Darro - Walk of the Darro [river]
There was reward for effort. We reached the Albaicin, the old Arabic quarter and gained fantastic views across to the Alhambra. [to be visited after our 6 days hiking]
The 3 palaces of the Nasrin rulers - Comares Palace, Palace of the Lions and the Partal Palace.
Alcazaba - barracks for the elite guard.
View of the Generalife or gardens of the Nasrid Rulers.
The main buildings of the Alhambra are to the right of this photo.
The Albaicin is characterised by its cobble stoned streets and white washed houses.There are many squares with terraces to laze about in or find a bite to eat, but little alcohol, as we discovered when we sat down at this cafe in need of a cold refreshing drink, after the climb.
City wall around the Alaicin.
Puerta Elvira, door of entrance to the Albaicin - our exit.
It is a small city, but jammed packed with buildings and features, that I just couldn't stop snapping.
Alcaiceria - a former Nasrin silk market.
Monument [fountain] to the Reyes Catolicos, [Catholic Monarchs] shows Columbus visiting Queen Isabella I. I particularly liked the reflection, showing the old and new buildings.
A tower of the Cathedral of Granada.
San Gil and Santa Ana Church, a mixture of Moslem and Christian architecture. [Mudejar architecture]
Back of the Cathedral.
The spires of the Cathedral.
Of interest, Queen Isabella I and Ferdinand II are buried here.
Not even November and the Christmas light display had appeared.
It had been a thrilling afternoon exploring Granada. Tomorrow would see us on the bus to the Alpujurra and our 6 days of walking, but we would be back to explore the Alhambra, whose 'Medieval palaces are distinct for their sophisticated planning, complex decorative programs and the many enchanting gardens and fountains.'
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