Thursday, July 11: This morning, we drive to Granada and stroll into the Bib Rambla, also called Plaza de las Flores (Square of Flowers), part of the old Silk Market and now the Flower Market of Granada. In the center of the square is the Gigantones Fountain from the seventeenth century, which is held up by some very ugly characters. The Plaza Bib Rambla is named after Bab ar Ramia, meaning a ‘wall gate’. It was used in Moorish times for bull running.
We stop to sample some delicious Chocolate and Churros in Andalucía. A churro, sometimes referred to as a Spanish doughnut, is a fried-dough pastry-based snack. It is normally eaten for breakfast dipped in hot chocolate or cafe con leche. It’s delicious!
Walking through the square we pass the Bishops Palace and walk into the Alcaiceria, the well-preserved old silk market.
Barry leaves us to explore the Granada Cathedral on our own. But before he does, he takes me to an ATM so I can get some cash for tonight’s flamenco show. When I put the card into the machine, a traveler’s worst nightmare happens. A message comes up that my card isn’t valid and the machine eats my debit card!
Luckily the bank is open and one of the bankers inside returns my card to me. But he tells Barry the card has a stop on it and he shouldn’t be giving it back at all. However, he can see the look of panic on my face and kindly returns it.
Despite having the card in my hand, it puts a damper on my day. I know I don’t dare put it back into an ATM again. I need to wait till it’s morning in the USA, so I can contact Mike and ask him to check with the bank about the card. Luckily I know the PIN number for my Barclay Bank credit card and I’m able to get some cash out using that. However, I don’t want to use a credit card for cash advances because of the exorbitant interest attached to cash advances on such cards.
I try to forget about this whole debacle because there is nothing I can do about it now. I go into the Granada Cathedral and try to shake off my worries. I love this cathedral because it’s light and bright inside, unlike many of the gloomy cathedrals I’ve seen throughout Spain. I also love the circular capilla mayor with its star-painted dome.
Unlike most cathedrals in Spain, this cathedral’s construction had to wait until the Nasrid kingdom of Granada was acquired from its Muslim rulers in 1492; while its very early plans had Gothic designs, the church’s construction in the main occurred at a time when Spanish Renaissance designs were coming into play. Foundations for the church were laid by the architect Egas starting from 1518 to 1523 atop the site of the city’s main mosque; another architect took over in 1529, and it took four more decades to complete the design.
The most unusual feature of is a circular capilla mayor rather than a semicircular apse, perhaps inspired by Italian ideas for circular ‘perfect buildings.’ It took 181 years for the cathedral to be built. Baroque elements were introduced into the facade during this long period, beginning in 1667. Two large 81 meter towers foreseen in the plans were never built for various reasons, among them, financial (Wikipedia: Granada Cathedral).
We meet again and walk through the town and along a small river, where we get our first glimpse of the Alhambra on the spur above.
We also pass by some strange street art.
Before heading to the Alhambra, we stop for some tapas. We won’t be having dinner tonight until after 8:00, when we go to see a flamenco show, so we need something light to hold us over.
We share a plate of Manchego cheese, a Spanish potato omelette, and artichoke hearts topped with anchovies.
We also share some “little shrimps” crispy fritters with pearsil (parsley).
We can see the Alhambra beckoning us from above. We’re due to begin our visit there at 3:00; we have timed tickets to enter the Nasrid Palaces at 6:00.
So, after our late lunch, we drive up to the entrance to the Alhambra, for the highlight of our visit to Andalucía.