I’ve been a bad blogger leaving you hanging for a couple of weeks. So we left off with something like, I’m going to take a nap now, there will be time for more exploring tomorrow. Except when there isn’t.
I woke up bright and early the next morning to discover that while it was early – something like 4 am – it was anything but bright. First of all because it was 4 am and second because it was raining. Oh, well, I’m tired and sore so I’ll just go back to sleep and take a day off to recuperate.
To recap: yesterday:
[Rio Darro with the Alhambra to the left and the Albaicin to the right both steeply uphill.]
[Granada’s part of a nation-wide protest against meager pension benefit increases.]
It didn’t rain all day, but it did rain on and off for most of the day, every day for two weeks. Oh, and did I mention that it was cold? Cold and rainy. I packed nothing heavier than a windbreaker and a few long sleeve shirts. Everything else in my bags were spring and summer clothes. The locals and other ex-pats that I talked to said, “This never happens.” Except it did happen starting the first full day that I was in town.
One convenient coincidence was that this foul weather set in just as my always minor sinus infection erupted into a continuous fountain of drainage leading to uninterrupted, uncontrollable coughing fits. I stayed in bed for most of that week leaving my room only to venture out to the farmacia for drugs and to a take-out Turkish restaurant across the street. One order of kebaps fed me for two days at a time. Not bad for eight euros.
The farmacias here can sell many drugs without a prescription if you can tell them the chemical name, not the brand name, of what you need (thank you Google translate). Two weeks after starting on a combination of three medications I am in better shape than US doctors achieved in over five years.
Eventually the weather improved, just in time for me to relocate from the Hotel Victoria, while a very nice place, it is not inexpensive and is also fully booked up. Fortunately, the Hotel Dauro is just down the street, near the Rio Genil and is both cheaper and available – for now.
After getting settled in to my new, temporary home, I wandered to the Plaza del Humillidaro, a lovely park with fountains and orange trees that wraps around a bend in the Rio Genil in the heart of Granada.
And finally the clouds lifted revealing the snow-capped Sierra Nevada’s towering over downtown:
Telescopic compression is at work here. The first set of buildings beyond the bend in the river are just a little higher than where I am standing and are only 4/10ths of a mile in the distance (2,000 feet). The buildings behind them are not tall, but are 800 feet above me on the ridge that the Alhambra sits atop. The ridge behind them is not far in the distance and is perhaps another two thousand feet above me. The snow capped range is 10 miles straight line from where I stand and is more than 8,000 feet above this river.
Granada is not a large town, roughly 240,000 residents, but it is compact and dense. Most of the buildings in the heart of town are six or eight stories, built on streets that are narrow compared to those in the US. Because of this, views of the nearby mountains are very rare in town.
Coming in to town on the bus from Antequera we round a bend, clearing a range of hills and are suddenly met with a spectacular view from 10 or so miles west of Granada. From there one can see not just this snow clad range but also the rocky peaks of Mulhacén and Veleta. These are listed as the first and third highest peaks on the Iberian peninsula, which implies that there is a higher peak, probably in the Canary Islands. In town the view is much like that in Manhattan – just the sky directly overhead.
My search for a short term rental apartment has so far been fruitless because of my limited stay. Since I am leaving to go back to Madrid at the invitation of my friend Rocio, I have put this off until I return. Good thing I already had plans to leave town this coming weekend (Easter to us American’s) because every hotel room in Granada is booked up for the culmination of Semana Santa.
Every week night after work hours I have heard drums beating and paraders chanting and I’ve seen hundreds of spectators in the street below my balcony in the build-up to Easter weekend. Families are out walking down the sidewalk with children in tow and pushing infants in strollers past eleven PM or even midnight watching the festivities. If this is what a Tuesday night sounds like, perhaps leaving town isn’t such a bad idea.