Thursday, September 27, 2012

Granada

Our trip from Burgos to Granada was an all day affair. It began with a taxi ride to the Burgos train station where we discovered many other peregrinos gathering. Our train for Granada was scheduled to leave about an hour ahead of a train that was headed to Santiago.

Most of the waiting pilgrims were skipping all or part of the Meseta and planned to restart their walk further along the way. Our friend Francesca from Italy (who had occupied the bunk above mine in the Roncesvalles albergue) was there. She had developed tendinitis and in order to complete the required final 100km on foot within her remaining time was taking the train to Sarria. A couple from Canada was planning to go as far as Leon and from there would recommence their trek. Johan from Holland was planning to take the train all the way to Santiago.

This was Johan's second Camino. He'd walked it once before from St Jean to Finisterre - celebrating his ability to do so given that he has multiple sclerosis. This time, he'd experienced a flare up of his symptoms in Burgos and so was now on his way to Santiago by train. As we were chatting, he received a message from his wife confirming his reservation at the Parador there (luxury hotel located in a historic palace or monastery) - Dutch delight.

We hopped on our train and settled in for the ride to Madrid, changed stations in Madrid (where we also half-guiltily ate Whoppers at the station's Burger King) and caught the next train that would deliver us to Granada just before 10 pm.

An enthusiastic tour guide/taxi driver whisked us through the bustling streets of Granada pointing out the most important sights, "That restaurant has Very Good Tapas." When we arrived at our hotel, situated at the foot of the hill upon which La Alhambra sits, the desk clerk was standing on the sidewalk holding open the door for us and asking if she could help with our luggage. Two packs hardly count as luggage, so we handled our own and she got down to the cheerful business of greeting us, orienting us to our neighborhood, giving us our room keys, and our tickets for and tips on how to navigate the next day's Alhambra visit.

Exhausted and thrilled we made our way upstairs and fell into our beds.

The next morning, with rain forecast for the whole day, we headed out for what our map indicated would be a short walking tour of the old city. Maps are flat. Granada is not. It was a wonderful, winding and tiring climb with so many opportunities to photograph vistas and architectural gems that we progressed at a snail's pace.

Happily, we found a direct route down the hill for our return to the hotel, where we took a (much needed by me) rest before setting off up the hill to see the Alhambra.

Long lines and minimal signage greeted us at the gate but we managed to find our way through the entry maze only to discover that - once inside - there were even fewer helpful signs. We returned to the gate and were told that there were no maps of the complex available. We could clearly see other visitors holding maps but when we asked about those we learned that those maps came only with the purchase of the audio tour.

Ah. So, we spent our first hour and a half trying to *find* the central palace and another 45 minutes sheltering from a downpour in the palace of Charles V.

Our tickets allowed us entry to the palace at 4:30 pm and our delightful hotel receptionist had warned us not to be late, "They are very strict. They will lock the gates." We were in line in plenty of time with only sprinkles of rain falling. Slowly the line began to inch forward and then, we were in.

The crowds were so large, it was difficult to get a true sense of the Alhambra's famous spaciousness and airiness; but the artistry and beauty were not wholly obscured and I began to worry that I might overload the data storage on my iPhone with all my picture taking.

An hour and a half later, we emerged out into the gardens again and slowly made our way down hill, back to the arms of the most excellent Hotel Puertas de las Granadas.

The long trip and extended walking seem to have slowed my recovery, so I've spent today mostly resting and reading - hoping to get digestion and strength back to normal soon. Dad has been a champ, finding a restaurant to make white rice for me ("off menu" and for take out), and sitting patiently or napping while I rest and gather strength.

Tomorrow we head back north. The plan is to take a train to Madrid and spend the night there. Then, the next day, another train to Astorga where we plan to spend two nights before once again strapping on our packs and walking out toward Santiago.


5 comments:

  1. Linda, your pictures are great--and bring back fond memories for me. Kendra

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Great, great pics. Your blog is so wonderful, Linda. Thank you for keeping it up so faithfully.

    Gayle

    ReplyDelete
  3. Dear Linda & Harald, What a wonderful extension to your pilgrimage! We were strongly impressed by how you both navigated your own pace and trajectory, bypassing the rush for beds and the rest. We are so happy to read that you are continuing to chart your own path on this ancient road. Wishing you both strong bodies and all the best -- and keeping you in our prayers until you reach the tomb of Saint James!!! With fond memories of our visit in Belorado....Wendy, DC

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Wendy! Buen Camino to you guys too!

      Delete
  4. Hey Linda, I have lovely memories of Granada - went for my honeymoon! Hope you feel better. Saloni

    ReplyDelete