By all rights this blog should be about departing. Life is busy with packing and arranging for our flight. And tonight Brad is at O'Neills sharing a farewell pint with the Maynooth Chain Gang (go to their blog if you want to see a pic of the mamils. From a brief glance it's fairly clear that Brad will never blend into the Irish crowd.). But no! Tonight I will not fall into a pint Guinness and drown in my sadness. I am far too organized for that! I have left myself a way out... an escape hatch back into our sunny Spanish vacation. So toss your weighty pint aside, and enjoy a glass of sangria while I tell you the tale of Granada.
Granada is the home of the Alhambra. THE Alhambra. I didn't even know what it was... but I'd heard of it, floating around in the vernacular of life. The Alhambra. Clearly it was something I just had to go check out for myself.
So... it's a Moorish Palace of spectacular size and scope. It's stands firm because it was never sieged... As it turns out January 2nd, the day of our decided trip to Granada, is the day when the Moors peacefully decided to leave the Alhambra after realizing that no one was coming to rescue them.
However, that's not the story I want to tell you about today. There's loads on the web about the Alhambra because it's a UNESCO world heritage site and a major tourist trap. That would about sum up our experience of the Alhambra... it was nice... well groomed... and entirely sticky with tourists. There is so many tourists that a ticket only lets you in for 1/2 a day, and if you actually want to see the palace then you'd better be ready to queue up.
Afterwards we headed into the city itself just in time to get caught up in the Jan 2nd Granada liberation celebrations. Lost amongst the crush of bodies, it was hard to tell what was going on. There was a military band, speakers on the balcony of City Hall, and heaps of woman wearing fur coats (seriously, I'd never seen so many fur coats before!)
After discovering the car could no longer shift into second, Brad decided to pull into the parking lot of a museum. And the museum guard gave us a 10 minute warning to pull back out of the parking lot as the museum was closing (damn siesta!). As we didn't actually have a proper map of the city we decided to pull off the highway bound road onto a side road... then on to another side road... and then we circled around a few blocks... until we eventually beached the car in front of a hospital.
Siesta and the tow truck driver who did not speak a word of English came to our aid. Cellphone conversations were flying... between our host and the tow truck driver... the insurance company and the tow truck driver... and us, lost in the debate as to where the car was going to go. Benalmadena, the location of the villa and our host, was more than a 2 hour drive away.
How could they arrange the transport of us (4 adults and el nino) and the car down to the coast?
It was siesta and it was a holiday. Any other day... Si... but it was the Fiesta de la Toma!! and it was 3pm!!! Luckily, the lovely English speaking person on the other end of the cellphone was decisive. The caravan would spend the night in a car hotel before the debate on it's fate would continue. As for us, we would be given a rental car from Avis.
Sigh, apparently even Avis takes a siesta...
So the most memorable moment of my time in Granada would have to be the hours we spent in the lobby and cafeteria of the Clinica Inmaculada Concepcion. It was fascinating for two reasons:
1. It was like visiting a hotel. The lobby had new, comfortable couches for guests to sit on. The cafeteria served a great veggie club sandwich with artichoke hearts, asparagus, tomato, lettuce, cheese and most notably a toothpick to hold the 3 layers together. At only €3.50 it was a sandwich worth returning for.
2. In the 1.5 hours we spent waiting for the Avis siesta to end, I never saw a single patient walk through that waiting room. But I guess there's not that much demand for an immaculate conception these days.
Below is a picture of the car in a typical Spanish carpark. Brad gets kudos for some amazing parking skills!