Dwight Peck's personal website

We flee South in the winter

Two weeks in Andalucia, December 2011

You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

More Granada scenes

Our last two days here, and lots to see.

We're strolling round the Albayzin neighborhood. Peeking into restaurants.

The Plaza Larga towards the top of the Albayzin neighborhood, just outside a length of the Moorish city wall

An attractive Moorish heladeria (ice-cream shop) at the Plaza Larga

Near the Mirador de San Nicolás

Time for a coffee americano just behind the Mirador de San Nicolás

The modern church of San Nicolás and the splendid mirador, or belvedere, overlooking the old city and the Alhambra across the way. The stone quonset hut is a Moorish barrel-vault fountain.

An astonished zoom of the Alhambra across the way -- the Comares tower on the left and the Nasrid palaces in front, the church of Santa María de la Alhambra behind it, and the Carlos V Palace bulking up on the right.

A step farther back -- the Nasrid and Charles V palaces joined at the hip, as it were.

The whole complex of the Alhambra, from left, the fortified gardens, originally with residential facilities for the staff, etc., in the centre the Nasrid and Charles V palaces, and on the right the Alcazaba fortress.

Kristin and the Alhambra

We're walking down through the narrow lanes of the old Moorish Albayzin neighborhood

Down towards the Darro and an hour with the International Herald Tribune

"A vote is a blank check". Umm.

Steep alleys down through the "carmens", Moorish-style walled houses with courtyard gardens, bring us back to the river.

A Segway Patrol along the river Darro. There's a flourishing Segway sightseeing concession in the Plaza Santa Ana and Plaza Neuva, with highly-trained guides providing brief instructions and leading out confidently.

Back to the guidebooks to plan for tomorrow

Breakfast at the shawarma stand

As promised, we're out at the Abadía del Sacromonte, the abbey built in the 1590s to house the miraculous "lead books" describing the martyrdom, here, of St Cecil and his friends in the caves in the mountain. The abbey rose and flourished, the mountain was renamed the Sacred Mountain, pilgrims came to see the catacombs and relics, and the Vatican's assessment that the lead books were fakes went entirely unheeded, since it completely missed the point.

For a nominal sum, a nice lady walks you through the abbey's memorabilia (including a glance at the "lead books", the oldest known map of Granada, a good painting by Alonso Cano, and some saccharine portraits of some priestly Franco supporters who were "martyred") . . .

. . . around the tastefully-decorated cloisters . . .

. . . through the tastelessly-decorated church, and then ("watch your head") down through the catacombs behind the crypt (with a rock that you're allowed to kiss if you want to get married within a year), and . . .

. . . out the back door. Thanks very much.

The views from the abbey are remarkable: the Alhambra and the cathedral district of downtown Granada.

The same zoomed.

The cathedral of Granada, very zoomed.

Everything in its proper place

We had a nice walk up into the hills above the abbey, until we realized that we were being watched carefully by an attentive pack of wild dogs, so we made a strategic redeployment back down the hill.

Now we're striding vigorously back down the Camino del Sacromonte from the abbey, past the gypsy cave houses. The gypsies have evidently been here since the 15th century and developed a community outside the city with houses built back into the caves. Described as disreputable in former times, presently it seems they've got the memo about the tourist base of the economy, and the Sacromonte is best known for its wholesome flamenco bars.

As we're walking the Camino back to the city, a glance back up at the abbey

Kristin scrutinizing the views of the Alhambra from the roadway

Sacromonte houses built back into the mountainside

Everyone who drives up here for whatever reason, it seems, has to thread his way up the Carrera del Darro in front of our hotel. There's no gypsy bypass road.

Come flamenco with us.

Enough to make you want to rush right in and see flamenco, or join in. (I saw a flamenco show in Sevilla in about 1979, and the dancers came down to the front tables and dragged up onto the stage an apparently inebriated gentleman with a huge abdominal scar, and forced him to dance with them, which he did happily. I was prepared to feel embarrassed, but it turned out to be El Cordobés the great matador, their hero.)

Back along the River Darro, here is the Bañuelo, thousand-year-old Moorish baths, just up the road from our hotel.

On a late afternoon tour through the Albayzin again, we find donkeys.

The Alhambra is always watching over you.

Little Alhambra busses get commuters up and down the vertiginous alleyways.

The Health Food Shop's just along here up the alley.

This is the main mosque of Granada in Moorish times, or, rather, it was, but it was re-engineered in 1499 by the crusading zealot Cardinal Ximenes de Cisernos and reborn as a bright new example for the temporarily-unconverted Muslims as the Church of San Salvador.

(Cardinal Ximenes was a right piece of work, the Grand Inquisitor and all that, but he also founded the Complutense University in Madrid and sponsored the first multilanguage translation of the Bible, the "Complutensian Polyglot", a major influence in the humanist and reformation era.) (Though not someone you'd have over for take-out pizza and football game on TV.)

More dinner plates on the façade, awaiting the next windy day.

More busses running the commuters and shoppers along home.

That's the Grand Inquisitor's San Salvador in Albayzin from the other side. If you'd like to see the inside of it, like most churches here, you can bloody well join the Catholic Church and line up for the mass. Or make special arrangements with the bishop.

'Dig We Must'. Tying up the traffic for some renovations.

This chap missed his commuter bus.

At the top of the Albayzin neighborhood

At the Mirador de San Cristóbal, above the university district, at the top of Albayzin

The view from the Mirador, or lookout, of San Cristobal, with the old Moorish city wall

The Plaza Larga . . .

. . . and the Puerta Nueva, a main gate through the city wall at that time.

Back to the Mirador of San Nicolás for the ceremonial tourist setting of the sun

Listless tourists awaiting the setting of the sun on the Alhambra across the way

Any moment now. You can't hurry it.


Back down through the Albayzin

Not only buses, but also taxis, bring the commuters and shoppers home

Our takeaway message from Granada: "Keelroy was here ha ha".

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 22 January 2012.

Spain, 2011