There are still pockets of snow clinging to the shadows of the Sierra Nevada Mountains; below in Granada the palm trees sway and jasmine perfumes the air. I have wanted to go to Granada ever since my Grandma used to play Frankie Laine, singing about falling under its spell. Admittedly at the time I thought it as somewhere along the Mexico – Texas border. John and I travelled there by bus, through a rugged landscape with boiling green rivers crossed by high bridges, and arrived in time to sit watching the late sun draw shadows on the Alhambra Palace, also feted in song and now part of my own memories.
It was another mini break away from Lyra. This time our hotel was up a grade and included a TV in the room. At the reception desk the girl checking us in gave us a map and showed us where the Alhambra was and also the Albaicin area from which to view it. “ You will need to take a taxi or a bus” she said, “It is very steep”. I could have told her that, given enough time and a couple of ibuprofen, I had been known to manage steep and the Captain was a veteran of the Coast to Coast path, one of the famed Magnificent Seven Snow Whites. Fearing not enough would be lost in translation I refrained and we set out along the flat and toured the environs of the Cathedral. There were many shops and stalls selling teas and spices in fragrant, arrayed open baskets. Wandering accordionists were rife. When we finally found the front door to the Cathedral it was shut for siesta, so we retired to a café in the square, spraying a fine mist of water from narrow tubing installed over the heads of the customers. Occasionally big drips would fall. The waitress wore a hat. The broad beans and ham tapas was excellent though.
Refreshed we headed for the hill. My unpaid tour guide had recommended sitting with a drink in the Albaicin, looking out over to the Alhambra with the mountains behind. Up we climbed, though an impressive red brick arch and up some intriguing steps. We soon had magnificent views over the town and could see the Cathedral far below. We entered a network of small streets, still climbing and finally came to a main road, round the next corner there was the Alhambra spread out below us. Magnificent. In our eagerness we had actually climbed higher then we needed, but it was well worth it for the spectacle.
We wound back down following signs for the monument, went through more arched gateways, past a colourful market and into a square with cafes. Along a low wall, before what looked like the edge of a precipice, sat a trio of young men one playing guitar, one clapping out a rhythm and all three singing. They drew us forward and there was the palace again, over on the opposite hill. The low wall actually ran alongside a road and opposite were restaurants and bars with terraces overlooking the view. We wound quickly through the hippy market on the square, down and across the road and into one of them. All the sofas were occupied, but we found a table and had Moroccan mint tea and pastries overlooking the view. The tea was poured from a height into glasses from bulbous in silver teapots with tiny feet and long spouts. The pastries were small biscuits and cubes of brownie too rich and gooey to bite. It was everything I had imagined, watching the low sun was catching the terracotta walls and making them glow.
All along the battlements tiny bright specs of people walked in a beaded line. Tomorrow that would be us.