It’s not like me to miss a week posting something on art or travel, but I have been ‘out of sorts’ for want of a better word to describe my sporadic exhaustion and brain fog. However, this morning I returned from my walk with a blog idea! I hope you’ll join me as I sift through the travel notes I jotted down when visiting Granada, in May last year.
Thursday 9th May. The bus trip from Cordova was great, the landscape fairly repetitive in the main – rows of olive trees mostly, the soil clay-coloured and arid looking – but what a surprise as we neared our destination, to see the high snow-capped mountains of Sierra Nevada, a majestic backdrop to this Andalusian city and the fabulous green belt of trees.
Our apartment in Calla de Carmen is adequate, just. The kitchen – undersupplied. No dish cloths, no tea towels, or wine glasses. Fancy that. Neither were there maps or information. But, seasoned travellers that my husband and I are, it was no trouble to search for the local supermarket. We found the shop okay, but became geographically embarrassed as we criss-crossed the narrow intersecting streets on our return. First night, and we’re eating in. Bread and olives with salad to follow. Washed down with a nice Rioja. In a mug. And as tired as I was, my body craved the comfort of the King-sized bed from our last stop, as this bed scarcely made it to ‘double’ in description, and was so short my feet kept hanging over the edge. Still, I was able to listen to the musical plumbing while I hung there .
Friday, we jumped aboard a number 9 bus to Miguel, which is high in the hills. We were told it offered fantastic views to the Alhambra and across Granada city from there. And that’s exactly what we found. Expansive. Fantastic. And most definitely awesome!
It was warm as we walked downhill through the old streets, referring to a schematic map to track our way through the maze of lanes. We got lost numerous times, finding dead-ends galore, and retracing our steps again, and again. But it was interesting, different and enjoyable. An ice cream was called for, when we finally reached the town, for it was very hot by then. Scorching. We kept to the shade of buildings as much as possible, as we ducked on and off the paths, avoiding people and cars sharing the narrow streets. Back at the apartment, I sat in the cool courtyard and finished off some sketches I’d started in Barcelona, where I’d been part of a Sketch Spain tour.
Saturday. Another fantastic day. A number 30 bus direct to the Alhambra this time. And what a place! A vast assemblage of palaces and fortresses built between 1238 and1358 by the Moorish monarchs of Granada, later taken over by Christians. The ornamentation detail was a feast for this artist’s eyes, from ceramic tiling, fretted plasterwork, carved wooden and brass ceilings… And the gardens outside were equally magnificent, featuring skinny cypress, manicured hedges, flowerbeds of alyssum, gentian, salvias and roses, as lovely as they were centuries back I imagine. A cold beer in the bar before leaving was necessary, and then taking the bus downtown. We passed, then entered an antique shop, with an art exhibition gallery upstairs. But it was sighting a small drawing on a sideboard downstairs which intrigued me – a pencil portrait of a young boy, resembling an early Picasso.
All evening I thought of that drawing, even though the ambience of the cafe down our street took most of my attention. Plus the flamenco guitarist and dancers resident there.
Sunday morning we were up late, but not too late to catch the antique shop open. Of course I was always going to buy the portrait. The work was one from an earlier exhibition by a young Milanese artist – Guillermo Martin Bermejo. Well, a Picasso, really? In my dreams. It was another beautiful day, in which we sweltered but found nice oases of cool to relax in too. Like the small bar/cafe beside a bridge, where we sat under large red umbrellas and gazed onto the shallow river. A tonic each and some tapas. Smoked salmon on guacamole, and sardines on tomato. Yum. Perfect, I think. We sauntered back through the streets, pausing to watch a parade of dancers, drummers, costumed donkeys led by colourful owners… You’ll always find a celebration or demonstration in any Spanish city. And Granada was no exception.
That night, our last, we dined in – on a simple meal of tuna salad. So nice to have fresh tomato, lettuce, eggs etc., Accompanied by more mugfuls of Rioja.
After dinner I packed my new artwork safely into my carry-on bag, a place I’ve tucked many a fragile memento from past visits to Europe. I am sorry to leave Spain – it’s been a terrific experience. I just love the people, their culture and passion. I hope it is not too long before we can visit again.