Day 21

Today was a big day for us. We were doing a day tour to Granada and the Alhambra. This meant we needed to get to a meeting point just before 7am as it takes 3 hours to get to Granada from Seville. We packed our bags and met at the meeting point sleepy and all. The bus picked up others from different stops and then after the bus filled up we were on our way. Our first stop was a toilet stop but also cafe when we were halfway into the journey. Steve was hungry so decided to have a big breakfast that was a prociutto and cheese roll and some cake like chocolate pastry 🐷

We learnt that in the Andalusia region Seville is the biggest province followed by Malaga, Cordoba and Granada which has half the population of Seville.

We finally arrived in Granada and we were given the option to explore the city for a couple of hours or have an optional additional tour. Our actual tour to enter the Alhambra was scheduled at 2pm so we decided we’d rather explore a bit of Granada and go to the cathedral. We walked down to the cathedral and explored the shops around. There was a lot of tea and middle eastern like influenced goods. We did find a boomerang at some shops which I’m pretty sure is just an Aussie thing!

We went onto Google to look for a place to have tapas for lunch. There was one called Bodegas Astenada that had over 2000 reviews and luckily the waiter spoke English. We ended ordering the special he said was like a paella without seafood and I chose a stuffed eggplant dish. As it was fairly cold the hot soup like rice dish with pork warmed up us although I wasn’t wowed with the food and thought the eggplant was average. In Granada a lot of tapas place give you free tapas when you order alcoholic dishes but unfortunately Steve and I don’t drink that much to take advantage of it!

One of the first stops on the tour was a square building with a circular structure inside called The Palace of Charles V built in the 16th century after the conquest of the city from the Moor’s. Interestingly the columns were called “pudding columns” because of the way they look. This building was never finished as it was supposed to have a dome roof but it was since abandoned. Now it’s used for concerts because of its great acoustics.

The Alhambra was constructed from a fortress by the ruler of the last independent Muslim state of Iberia. It was then converted for the Sultan of Granada in the mid 13th century to a Royal Palace.

If you look above all the bridges built there is a key carved at the top to represent the key to heaven as he wanted to build Heaven on Earth. There was one particular bridge called the ‘wine bridge’. Being a Muslim state there was no alcohol allowed but the Sultan let people sell wine for a tax under the bridge.

One of the most interesting parts was the The Hall of Ambassadors which is the largest room in The Alhambra. Out the front there is a large courtyard with a huge reflecting pool and white floors and walls. It’s quite nice to look at and the white walls reflect a lot of light! This was actually intentional because the sultan and his advisors would meet with foreign diplomats inside but before they would be seen, the foreigners would need to wait in the courtyard and their eyes would adjust to the bright lights then when they would enter the hall it was much darker only lit by small windows with stained glass(that are no longer there). This would make the Sultan look like a god!

We continued through various rooms and courtyards with explanations of the scripture on the walls and art style changes through the centuries.

Another interesting stop was the sultans bath house and The Court of the Lions. The Alhambra was built on the decline of a hill and would collect water running from the mountain via aquaducts. This water was piped all throughout the city such was considered amazing for it’s time! This water would be piped to a huge oven like structure, heated and then run under the bedrooms to keep them warm and in to the bath house.

The Court of the Lions also had impressive technology, there were a few smaller water fountains around which would trickle water upwards completely by using gravity alone. This along with the intricate Fountain of the Lions on the center would leave guests on awe. The fountain has twelve white marble lions and each hour one lion would produce water from it’s mouth. This technology would baffle all this that saw it.

After a quick break we continued the tour through the gardens. On the left of the path as the original gardens that were preserved as best as possible and on the right we more modern gardens with electric pumps for the fountains and steel structures.

Throughout our travels we keep seeing orange trees everywhere, they were here too and our tour guide explained that the fruit on these trees were not edible, when though they looked so good! He showed us that if we look closely at the leaves, these trees have a second, smaller leaf just up the stem which indicates it’s an “ornamental orange tree”.

We finally arrived into Seville around 8:15pm after a 3 hour bus ride. We were pretty tired but keen to try a tapas restaurant called La Chunga that was recommended by the host and the sister restaurant of where we went last night. The bus stopped at multiple stops around Seville so we chose the one closest to the restaurant.

We arrived at the restaurant and they told us the kitchen doesn’t open until 9pm so we decided to walk for 15 minutes and stretch our legs. When we arrived back we knew what we wanted to order as it had been recommended. We ordered croquettes, risotto and Iberian pork. We then ordered a grilled octopus dish as I found the risotto too cheesy and Steve ate it. Finally we ended with a dessert called chocolate ‘glosso’ which was essentially cream, chocolate brownie bits and caramel. Before we left they gave us complimentary cherry wine and I gave mine to Steve to finish off. It was a nice dinner but I felt yesterday was nicer tapas and so wasn’t blown away nor wasn’t disappointed.

It’s been a long day but a good way to finish off our Southern Spain leg of our trip. We got home and prepared our stuff to head to the airport in the morning.