Monday, 11 April 2011

Granada, Spain

If you can only visit one city in Spain, go to Granada.  It´s about five to six hours from Madrid by bus.   

Granada:  a beautiful, mountaneous city in southern Spain.

Sadly, I´d never heard of Granada before my RTW trip.  Sister #2 thought I might like I visit Granada in order to see the Alhambra.  Sadly, I´d never heard about the Alhambra, either.  Sister #2 explained that the Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Not visiting the Alhambra while you´re in Granada, Spain, she said, would be akin to not visiting the Taj Mahal when you´re in Agra, India.

Granada´s lovely Cathedral.

Inside Granada´s lovely Cathedral

The Alhambra is a fortress and palace complex constructed in the 14th century by Moorish rulers.  (Note:  the rest of the pictures featured in this blog entry were taken at the Alhambra).

You can book your tickets for the Alhambra online a couple of weeks in advance of your visit.  If you forgot to do an online booking, or if you didn´t even know about the Alhambra (like me) before you arrived in Grenada, be prepared to wait. 

I visited the Alhambra on a Monday morning.  It wasn´t a holiday and I arrived at 8:00 a.m. (the complex opens at 8:30 a.m.).  The first available time slot for me to enter the Alhambra was at 11 a.m.  Not a big deal for me but good to know for someone on a tight schedule.

As you can see from these pictures, the Alhambra was well-worth the wait.

In addition to a fortress and several palaces and monasteries, there are many beautiful gardens inside the Alhambra.  The average visit time is three hours.  For me it was more like four hours, because I couldn´t stop taking pictures.   

The Alhambra, I learned, has inspired many works of art.  This is not surprising to me.

In 1828, the American author Washington Irving did what I did:  he traveled from Madrid to Granada, Spain.  Upon arriving in Granada, Irving described it as "a most picturesque and beautiful city, situated in one of the loveliest landscapes that I have ever seen.¨

At the time, Irving was preparing a book about the conquest of Grenada.  But then he visited the Alhambra, an experience that prompted him to write another book, Tales of the Alhambra.

Irving did not think the words he wrote in this book could ever do the Alhambra justice, writing, ¨How unworthy is my scribbling of this place.¨  

Irving´s words resonated with me.  I´ve always felt that it´s far easier to express myself on paper than verbally.  When you´re writing you can sit and ponder semantics.  You can consult the thesaurus, the dictionary.  You can cut and paste.  The things that emerge for me on paper are often times more precise than what I could ever hope to achieve out loud, impromptu.  But I understand now that even writing has it´s limitations. 

Sometimes, when faced with something grand, beautiful, magnificent, awe-inspiring even the written word is wholly inadequate.  I´ve felt that way before several times on this trip.  Humbled.  Unable to do justice to something.  At a loss. 

I felt that way at the Alhambra.

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