5/30/2006 3:30 pm....Granada
Wow..what a 24 hours it's been! Granada just continues to hit the spot. With another day spent in the glorious sunshine, its relaxed pace is perfectly suited to what I want right now. To keep the chronological thing going, here's a quick rundown......
Last Night: In honor of tomorrow morning's visit to the Alhambra (pronounced "all-ambra"), had dinner last night at what is reputedly the best Moroccan restaurant in Granada, Arrayanes. I have to agree. Not only is the room itself wonderfully, but tastefully ornate, the proprietor is a fantastic host, who supposedly speaks seven different languages. Based on his ability to greet the English, Spanish, German, and French people who came through in their native tongue, I'm guessing that is no exaggeration.
He handed me the menu, gave me a minute, asked what I wanted. Knowing that Moroccan food is not something I am well versed in, I turned the tables and asked him to feed me. Just bring me anything he likes. His first question was, "Do you like soup?" to which I naturally replied, "I like everything!" So a deliciously savory chickpea soup found it's way to my table, accompanied by perhaps the best lemonade I have tasted. Oh, just so you know, there is no alcohol served at Arrayanes, much to my liver's relief! This first course was followed by a wickedly good lamb tagine (in the picture above), so rich in spice and character, and something he was rightly proud of. Ended it all with a perfectly rich vanilla custard with a sprinkling of cinnamon on top. All so good! Now to bed, the ghosts of the past are beckoning mañana!!
A brief interjection...I'm typing this at small "cerveceria" next to the internet café I've found here. Ordered a beer, and just had set on my table, in the free tapas tradition that I'm going to be very resentful about when I have to give it up (attention bar owners in Portland: my bar has been raised!), a delicious, lightly battered and fried whole sardine with a pile of what I think is crumbled friend corn meal..fresh, salty, and SO good!
This Morning: Up at 8:30 (remember this IS vacation), and get ready for my assault on the Alhambra. Have been told so much from friends who have been here, expectations are high.
After the fact: expectations not only met, but exceeded! Spent about three hours at this medieval fortress on the hill, took umpteen pics, and was just awed! So atmospheric, and though crowded with lots of big group tours, it was not this crush that I was fearing. Get ahead of them at spots, or let them pass by and you can find yourself with a bit of room to contemplate the history that is so apparent with every step, practically every breath you take here. If you have one stop to make in Andalucia, this has to be it. Incredible!
Just a small sampling of the beautiful tilework throughout.
The Patio de los Leones in the Palacios Nazaries. The fountain is surrouunded by twelve lions, and water flows out on four sides, which represent the four rivers of paradise. This small patio was one of my favorite places, although in a place like this it's almost unfair to pick one...or two...or.......
This Afternoon: came down from my Moorish high, just in time to wander into Los Diamantes, and partake of Pepe and his crowd one more time before I leave early tomorrow a.m. for Barcelona. Diamantes was still cooking, still energized, and is one spot I won't soon forget!
Here's a couple more images from my wanderings...
Another free tapas, this time at Casa Fernando, my second favorite place here!
Schoolgirls having a lunch break with their classmates in a small square near the hotel. Very cute...the one on the right kept trying to get her friend to share with her......
Three deep at the bar today at Los Diamontes. I'll miss ya, Pepe!