Granada was the last of the three cities we visited over Christmas break.
With the fact that we would be there be that we would be there for four nights during the holidays, I tried to find a place where I didn’t also have to pay for parking. As parking added considerable cost to the hostels and hotels I was researching. The place we pulled up to on New Years Eve was admittedly a little creepy. Imagine a cross between a motel 6 and a KOA RV campground with a small bar/restuarant, old metal playground and a random bird cage with birds laying eggs.
I, again, immediately questioned my hotel booking skills. The reviews of the place, Motel Sierra Nevada, were mostly positive and read that we could take a quick and easy bus ride into the heart of Granada.
It wasn’t a quick bus trip…at least not for a family with small kids who spoke even less Spanish at the time.
While Granada ended up being an enjoyable time, it was also fraught with us being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
We arrived on New Years eve with plans to play cards and watch the new year’s activities on tv. The girls thoroughly enjoyed us sharing stories of us doing stupid things as kids such as using scissors in a plastic pool or swinging in a full circle in a hammock. I enjoyed us sitting still and playing cards.
I remembered to pick up grapes before we left Seville so we could participate in the tradition of eating 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight. Supposedly, it is good luck to do so. My guess is that its good luck if you manage to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds and you don’t choke to death. Especially if you fail to buy the seedless grapes.
I did not enjoy the $8 hamburger from the onsite bar that was served raw. I did gather up myself to go ask for my money back on that one. It was the last straw in my feeling we were constantly being screwed over by not knowing the language. I even got my money back! But with our raw hamburgers returned we were left with peanut butter and jelly to ring in the new year.
We had a lot of peanut butter and jelly on this trip!
Lots of places in town were closed on New Years day. Which I did expect but I thought Burger King would at least be open. More peanut butter and jellies for us.
We headed down to Alumencar on the Mediterranean sea for the day. I was pleasantly surprised by the warmth, the sunshine and the amount of restaurants open. The girls played in the sea, we did a quick hike to an overlook and had some great mussels. On an outdoor patio as well. We wrapped it up with ice cream and headed back to the creepy motel/Koa.
I shouldn’t really knock the Motel Sierra Nevada. It was out of town, it was affordable, it had hot water and a small fridge. The kids loved watching the birds in the cage and counting the bird eggs. And it was only a few miles from the city center.
We were also right next to a Chinese restaurant. Oh….it had been so long, so very long since we had Chinese food. Potatoes in the stir fry were even forgivable. It took us four tries to show up at the right time though to be able to eat. It was either closed or we were too early. Dinner wasn’t served until 9pm.
We also had no tickets to what is probably the most famous site in all of Spain, the Alhambra. I spent a lot of time online trying to figure out how exactly we were going to secure tickets. My Lonely Planet book warned that I would need to arrive hours early to even have a snowballs chance in hell of getting a day-of ticket. Ok…don’t look for that quote. I’m paraphrasing.
Instead, we headed to the Granada science center. During winter break. I waited in line for an hour to purchase our tickets. And while all the exhibits were in Spanish it was a fun trip.
Odd, in many regards. A lot of nudity. Sometimes unexplainable to me. I didn’t want to appear the creepy tourist so I refrained from taking a video of the exhibit that explained range of motion with a video of completely nude adults raising their legs to show the hips’ range of motion or the full male frontal to show the shoulders’ range of motion. Really, I tried to find a YouTube video some other American tourist took of the exhibit but my search for a nude exhibit at the Granada science center started taking a turn for the worse so I stopped. You’ll just have to picture it.
There was also an interesting and definitely creepy exhibit on mummies. Amelia went with us for the first part but then closed her eyes and had us lead her around for the remainder of the time. She was afraid of having nightmares. Which who can blame her? We are viewing dead human beings after all.
And truthfully, while we do find the mummies of various cultures fascinating in reality these were people that were carefully prepared after their deaths to remain in their final resting place but are now on exhibit for thousands of people to view. I hadn’t thought of it before but the sheer number of mummies there were cause for thought.
The butterfly house at the science was a disappointment in comparison to Pacific Science Centerr in Seattle. But the girls found the metal ball works and vintage typewriter fascinating.
After the streets of Seville and most other places we were hesitant to try to drive to the Alhambra but squeezing in a taxi together or figuring out the bus which included two transfers was even less diserable. I convinced that Jeff we should go try to drive to the Alhambra. We were pleasantly surprised to find large, ample parking that was simple to reach and get home from.
We had a plan. We were going to wake early (7:30am), grab McDonalds for breakfast while I would go stand in line for tickets and the girls with Jeff stayed in the car. Turns out McDonalds didnt open till 9am for breakfast. Peanut butter and jelly for breakfast it was.
It was also a very cold, crisp morning. Jeff was sure we would get tickets. I was sure we would not.
I was happily wrong.
The Alhambra was grand (see the National Geographic YouTube Video). Both in size and history. We spent our entire allotted time there with few complaints from the girls; at least once the temperature rose above freezing and they could feel their feet again. I’d like to read this book on the Alhambra.
We however did not rent the audio guide which probably would have been nice but it would have also slowed us down considerably. As it was we were pushing it to make it to the Generalife section of the Alhambra before the 2pm deadline on our ticket.
Because it is such a large attraction with so many visitors, (it’s limited to 6,600 per day) tickets are split into morning and afternoon sessions with the Palacios Nazaries admission at a specific time listed on your ticket. Make it then or miss it. In this palace are the iconic fountains and rooms that are associated with the Alhambra. Here’s a postcard for you if you don’t think you’ll make it! p.s. It’s my own personal photo.
One of the more amusing parts of our visit happened when Violet was taking a rest on a chair. While Jeff and I took our pictures of the Alhambra, a group of older Asian women gathered around Violet and had their pictures taken with her. Violet was so confused!
Between the crisp, cool but sunny weather, the good spirits of the children and the amazing history we were seeing it was a GREAT day! I’ll admit the spirits of the children had a lot to do with that.
Because we had dragged our feet on getting into the city of Granada we had little time left for exploring the city itself.
Which really is a shame. It was colorful, vibrant and full of energy.
After an already full day of visiting the Alhambra we treked on into Granada.