Still truckin round southern Spain….still hazy after all these beers. The big brew over here is called Cruzcampo….and what shall I say of it? Not much…I have had better Cerveza elsewhere….but at least they import Corona! I’m stickin to the Sangria.
Well, now I am in a town called Grenada. Arrived yesterday. Seville was really nice, and I could have easily stayed another day there, but I know time is running out for me…and since I have a little more energy after my stint in Lagos, I am ready to rock for another week.
Ahhh, Grenada. So many people told me to come here, and with good reason. This town was where the Moorish empire had its seat, in a lofty fortress called the Alhambra. It sits atop a mountain, at the foot of which sprawls the ancient streets of Grenada. I’ll get to that.
When I arrived yesterday, I was immediately struck with how much this place feels like the Middle East. There is a huge Moroccan influence here….falafel restaurants, tea houses, incense filling the air, Arabic looking people walking around, signs in Arabic, and humus and pita available readily. I felt very much at home. I love the middle eastern feeling…it’s very familiar to me, after so many trips to Israel. I am actually feeling inspired to go to Morocco now…I know, I said I wouldn’t do it, but maybe I will change my mind….we’ll see, cuz tomorrow I am heading down to Gibraltar, and it would be from there that I catch the ferry to Tangiers. Maybe…
Grenada has a lot of back streets that resemble some of the market places I saw in Turkey and Jerusalem…lots of vendors, all selling the same stuff….and I have come upon a new host of chess boards…I guess that is a very middle eastern thing too…chessboards. Well, they got ’em here.
This city is also the final resting place of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella…the fanatics responsible for the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion of the Moors and Jews in 1492. Their grave is right next to the very large and impressive Cathedral here (nicer than many I have seen, yet I am unable to describe it now). The crypt is in their private chapel, and you have to descend into a lower chamber where you can see their lead caskets. I looked for a moment at them, and promptly wished a pox upon their souls.
Coming out of the crypt, I was accosted from all directions by gypsy women who kept trying to hand me a leaf….they are very aggressive about getting you to take the leaf. And once you do, they won’t leave you alone till you pay up. I kept refusing the leaves…and I had to plow my way through a horde of them to make it out of the chapel square. Quite annoying…at every turn, I kept having to angrily say, “NO!”
The nightlife is cool here. Free tapas at every bar when you order a drink…that was good news for me and the people I met up with. Can’t go wrong with free tapas….(little plates of food…)
Next day, today actually, I climbed the mountain up to the Alhambra. That was a hike and wore me out before the day even began! But the hike was worth it. I bought my ticket and went inside.
The fortress is pretty big and it’s enclosed by walls all around. There are several palaces to see, and some of the most beautiful and elaborate gardens even planted. Those are what impressed me the most. I walked around for a few hours amongst the flowers, fountains, and sculpted hedges. Of course, I sneezed a lot…but I endured.
Washington Irving, famed author of…uhhh….stuff…..spent some time here and wrote about it extensively. He was pretty enchanted with the place, so much so that the audio guide was supposed to be his voice (you know audio guides…those things you hold up to your ear as you walk around). The highlight of the Alhambra is the Palace of the Nazarenes…..I think that was the name…sorry, I forget these things….but it was an extremely ornate palace where all the walls were hand carved with Arabic poetry. The rooms were majestic, and the courtyards heavenly. It was built to represent the Islamic concepts of paradise. They did a good job.
So, I just had a falafel. Gonna need to go get some gum now….so, until next time, Salaaaaam.