Granada: Alhambra gardens

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

I hitched a ride with the Polish couple I’d met on the bike tour, and we left early in the dark to drive to Granada to see the Alhambra. It might be the most fantastic place I’ve been–just incredible.

1. Washington Irving lived at the Alhambra for awhile and was the US Minister to Spain; just like home in Irvington!
2-7. Some of the extensive gardens of the Generalife.
8-9. Palace of Charles V

Málaga, Mijas

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

I felt I’d seen most of the sights in Málaga after two days, so I took the commuter train to Fuengirola and then picked up a bus to Mijas, a “white village” up the mountain overlooking the sea. What I noticed most about it besides all the white buildings was that it was full of Brits who have holiday homes there.

1. Some of the weirdest figures/statues can be found in this junk shop in Fuengirola. I also saw a Dunne’s, which is an Irish department and grocery store… not sure why it’s in southern Spain too.
2-3. The town of Mijas on the slopes
4-6. A grotto cut into the rock, with more elaborate clothing and ceremonial accessories stored for the Virgin. Note the folded paper prayers stuck in the gaps in the stones.
7. The burro taxis were not operating by the time I arrived, which is just as well since I’m sure I would have been sad for the burros.

Málaga, wrapping up bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

Just a neat shot of the palms along the streets

In Constitution Square

Another vegetarian restaurant! More good food

I asked the tour leader what she recommended for an evening activity and made arrangements with the Polish couple to ride with them the next day to another city. Next up: the “white village” of Mijas

Málaga, beach on bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

1-3. Every bike tour should stop at the beach for a drink! We sat in the sun and had a sweet wine, Málaga Dulce. In that first picture they’re cooking seafood in the small yellow and white boat.
4. Hans Christian Andersen statue, with a duck in his bag (patito feo). He enjoyed his time spent in the city and now spends every day in the sun facing the sea.

Málaga, more bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

Picasso sits on a bench in Plaza de la Merced where he was born in 1881. (Antonio Banderas was born in this city too.)

Mosques become churches with a little paint

At the bullring. I was glad to hear they only have fights a couple times per year here… but many cities have bullrings. Meanwhile Catalonia has banned bullfighting just this year, though it may be less a statement of cruelty to animals than it is their wish to be separate from the rest of Spain.

An alley not far from Calle Larios

Málaga, bike tour

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

On the second day I decided to go on a bike tour, which was led by a native English speaker who moved to Málaga a few years back, and I was joined by a young couple from Poland who now live in Glasgow (plus the husband is half Algerian, I think, and his English had a lot of Scottish brogue to it!). We saw several of the same places I had toured the previous day, but this time I got a lot of back story and also found new sights to explore.

1. Calle Larios, where my hostel was located
2. statue near the hostel
3. on the bikes
4. The Alcazaba from the top of the building across the street
5. The Roman theater from across the street. It was only rediscovered in the 1950s
6-7. Holy Week (Semana Santa) celebrations in many cities in Andalusia (and other Hispanic-influenced parts of the world) are elaborate. The description of the marching people carrying these massive thrones down the streets made me want to visit during the religious holidays someday. I had seen huge doors the previous day, which turned out to house a couple thrones decorated with gold, silver, lace, and elaborate embroidered fabrics. The party we saw the night before was a fundraiser for these huge floats which are stored all around the city by the various groups who have cared for them for centuries (plus they are too big to keep in the churches). The woman who ran the bike tour knew the people who managed this building and they let us in to see the thrones up close.

An idea of the street processions:

Málaga, Chicagoans eating veg

ongoing account of May trip to Spain

Concerned that I might not translate something properly and end up with a plate full of dead animals, and being someone who gets a huge kick out of vegetarian restaurants, I checked online before I left for possible dining options. What a great move–the food afforded me a chance to try new dishes without the worry of my bad Spanish questions getting in the way. I started with sangria and just ordered whatever else sounded interesting!

Some American women at the next table seemed to be having trouble describing a dish to the server, so I tried to help with my phrase book. Pretty soon they had invited me to dine with them and we had a lovely late dinner discussing what brought us to that part of the world. They were from Chicago and were in Spain to manage some property left by a relative who had died. I don’t remember their names, but I think the mother had grown up in Europe somewhere (Poland?) and had an accent, and the daughter was an artist. They were at the vegetarian restaurant because they had been ill from the food in Spain and had even been in the hospital, and a doctor had recommended they not eat animal products for awhile to see if they’d recover more comfortably.

It’s not like me to hang out with strangers, but it was fun to do it this time. We also managed to mingle with some locals on the way back to our hotels. They were having a celebration to raise money for their Semana Santa thrones/floats (more on that in a later post), and now I think I’m in a whole lot of other people’s pictures!

The bats or birds were plentiful above the cathedral on the way back to our rooms.

Málaga, Alcazaba

The Alcazaba is a mostly 8th-11th century Moorish fort on a hill overlooking the city. It was indeed noticeably cooler in the shaded palace areas compared to being out in the beating sun.

Looking out toward the Mediterranean from the fortress; note the bull ring

Looking back over the city away from the sea. It’s pretty obvious how big the one-armed lady’s one arm is and how much different the skyline would look if the other one were finished!