March 31, 2022
Malaga is a beautiful city built around the splendor of Spain’s Moorish heritage. We decided to explore that heritage by traveling to Grenada to tour Alhambra, a complex of palaces atop a hill that offers panoramic views and a detailed study of incredible architecture, art and history.
Before we left for the tour, we saw a huge yacht, the Lady Moura, in port. I looked it up and it turns out that many famous people have sailed on her. Now she is owned by a Mexican businessman.
There is also a ferry to Africa from here as it is really a close trip and there is a Spanish territory that it travels to which is adjacent to Morocco. Sergio thinks that the nicest part of Morocco is southern Spain!
Our guide for the trip was Sergio. On our 90 mile 2 hour trip to Grenada, he gave us a lot of facts and history about Malaga and Grenada.
Here is Sergio in Alhambra explaining the mosaic tile work. You can see that some of the stucco and tiles are damaged.
Spain has fared better than most of the world in controlling the spread of Covid. We did not need to get tested to disembark here but we did need to wear masks inside and out.
The city itself gets about 320 days of sun each year and it has had its effects on the reservoirs – right now they are only 15% full. They are just recovering from a huge sand storm from Africa which spread red sand everywhere. They got some rain just at the end of that for which they are very happy, but he said it seemed like it was raining mud and was very hard to clean up.
Only 18% of their power comes from wind energy and the cost of energy here is high. They are trying to do more solar but it is just the beginning for them.
They have earthquakes almost every day here but they are so slight you really don’t feel them.
We had a rest room stop about half way to Grenada which I normally wouldn’t mention but there was a shop there and I spotted 3 liter bottles of olive oil for 16.9 Euros which is about 19.75 in dollars. Wow, wish I could have taken that home. Sergio says they have 500 million olive trees and we saw many of them on our trip. There are also many almond trees.
Orange trees are plentiful and line many Malaga streets, but they are bitter and only used for marmalade.
Alhambra means “the red” and it is a spectacular place. It is a palace and fortress complex and is a UNESCO heritage site. It was begun in 1238 the site of an earlier fortress and palace complex.
Visitors line up to get in but for groups, you have a timed ticket and must show your original passport. Our tickets were for 12:30 PM. We had 25 people in our group. We arrived at 11 so had plenty of time to see the amazing gardens before we went into the palace complex. It is the #2 tourist site in Spain after the Camino de Santiago and can get as many as 7600 visitors each day.
Inside the palaces, as is common in Moorish architecture, there are interior courtyards with fountains, reflecting pools and plants as well. The palace decoration is primarily decorated with mosaics on the lower walls and carved stucco on the upper walls. The stucco includes geometric patterns, vegetal motifs and Arabic inscriptions. Stalactite like sculpting was used on entryway ceilings and vaulted ceilings. Some of the ceilings are made of leather.
Seeing the preservation of Alhambra and all of the work that went into the buildings, gardens and courtyards made this trip one that we will always remember.
The author Washington Irving lived at the palace while he wrote Tales of the Alhambra which was instrumental in introducing the site to Western audiences. There is a plaque honoring him in one of the rooms.
The view from the complex and the resident cat.
What we didn’t expect in Grenada was the weather. When we left Malaga, it was 63 and pretty sunny. Grenada is 2800 feet above sea level and it was 46 degrees and rainy much of the time. It wasn’t a heavy rain, but I certainly wasn’t prepared for it and was cold the whole day. But it didn’t change how much I enjoyed the visit. Of course the local people were thankful for the rain.
Grenada is only 30 minutes away from the Sierra Nevada mountain ski areas and they had snow so they extended the season for 1 extra week.
The gardens here are really beautiful. From the tall cypress trees to lovely wisteria and many kinds of flowers and plants set on several levels, it is a joy to see. There are also some places that you can see ruins of former residences. I have many pictures but will share just a few.
The walkways are designs made from small stones.
After our visit to the complex, we had lunch at Restaurant Jardins Alberto which is just across the street from it. It was a typical Spanish lunch including gazpacho, salad and small plates with local specialties and a kind of flan for dessert. Not as good as the food on the ship but then hardly anything is! And no one really liked the wine. I was so cold I had to get tea to warm my hands.
We were entertained by two musicians who then tried to sell us CDs or USBs with their songs.
I did have a short snooze on the way back. A word or two about Malaga itself, which we only drove through, but Sergio filled us in. It is the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and there is a museum dedicated to him. I guess Sergio is not a fan, though, as he said you have to drink heavily to appreciate Picasso’s art. There are lovely beaches, an old historic quarter and beautiful gardens with plants and trees from all over the world. The Cathedral of Malaga is known as “La Manquita””, (the one-armed) thanks to its unfinished right tower.
All in all a very full and interesting day.
I am writing this on April 1 and as I always say, if the captain comes on the intercom at any time other than noon when he gives the daily update, it is never good news. His message today was that we will miss tomorrow’s port, Marseille, France, due to high winds. The winds may go as high as 50 knots which makes it dangerous to get into port and dock. It is a disappointment, but it you can’t argue with the weather. So we will have another sea day on the way to Monte Carlo and we hope the weather will be better. I just heard from a friend who is on the Insignia, following us by a few days, and they were advised that they will miss their next two ports because of this weather system.
Tomorrow we will get a covid test two days before this segment ends in preparation for the second leg of this cruise – we booked it as two separate cruises. We will be moving to another cabin as well – when we get to the Rome stop on Monday. Monte Carlo is scheduled for Sunday.
So glad you got to Alhambra, even though the weather wasn’t great. We went there several years ago while on a cruise. It was beautiful. We enjoy your blog.
Shame about Marseille but enjoy Monte Carlo.