out of barcelona. the city has a great metro system, and it delivers one right into the train station, a busy place thronging with people. people going everywhere, people sitting on luggage. people– everything from greying businessmen to women in purdah, sandals to shoes with turned-up toes, the highest of heels to the more fashionable shoes that run all the way up the calf, but have almost no soles. half an hour before the train is due to arrive the line forms to go through the scanner and ticket check, and then there it comes down the track. i am in a sleeper unit, with sortuv bunk beds not quite designed for someone of my height. after a weak gin and tonic i am off to get some logs sawn.

well, almost– there seems to be some kind of a fight going on out in the corridor, shouting and perhaps some blows thrown, someone arguing over a room and a ticket, yelling and screaming, the echoes of which linger. my sleep is not the stuff of which dreams are made.

the sun comes up and reveals hills with lots of trees and almost no undergrowth– olive trees, i estimate, and the way they are arranged is interesting. they cover the hills, sometimes in nice neat lines and at other times they just cover the hills, arranged any which way, as if the planters were having a difficult time. finally, we slowly pull into the station in granada. what seems like a longish taxi ride and i am at the hotel, but my room not yet available, so i drop off my pack and take a walk, in craven search of a cuppa coffee– MUST HAVE COFFEE!!

if i haven’t mentioned it yet, the coffee in most places in europe excellent, far superior to what i have been used to in the states (and of course, mexico, which seems to be “the land o’ nescafe”), and i go over my usual limits almost every day, both in amount and the hours at which i will partake. what the hell, i’m on vacation, right? the only place open has outdoor tables, but it is cold and i stay inside at first. it is a casino of sorts, but an ersatz one at best– one plays machines for everything, and no doubt it would make a great movie set at some time, but luckily enough i stay out in the cafe portion and sip a couple of cups of great joe before beginning to wander around the town.

and a gorgeous place it is, too– the light is good and the sun, after a cool beginning, is bringing a warmth to its’ stones. much to be seen and experienced, and i spend the day looking around and exploring the streets. granada is not so narrow as barcelona, in the way that the “streets” pass between buildings, and so there seems to be more light. still and all, without my trusty map it would have been easy as pie to get lost. i buy a croissant, expecting it to taste like the great french ones i have had in the distant past, but it is a disappointment. gotta go to france i suppose, well, if i HAVE to guess i could do it.

in the later afternoon i take the bus ride out to the alhambra– the ancient moorish fort that hangs like a reddish cloud above granada. i have a ticket for entrance to the main part at around 7:00, but i come an hour early to explore the other parts, the ones you don’t have to wait for.

this time i am definitely NOT disappointed– not by half!! the light is a little weak for great photos, but i love the place– just the topiary alone is enough to drop one’s jaw. perfectly manicured and some wonderful shaping involved. then comes the walls of the musee de beaux artes.the facade of this building is wonderful, the blocks of stone cut separately, and then textured with a point chisel– very nice indeed!! after a quick tour of the whole site, it is time to stand in line to get into the major part of the alhambra. lots of waiting here, and much later than planned to enter, but absolutely marvellous inside– all the graceful arches, that wonderful moorish designing one thinks about after having seen all those old movies, only better, more well-done.

much great stucco work to be seen, lots of carven wood panels and ceramic tiles of all sorts, impressive vistas– courtyard after courtyard, all wonderful, simply wonderful. all too soon it is over, and the bus ride back a little chilly and darkening– the remedy? some hot thai coconut soup, of course, and a few thai dishes to go with it, mouthwatering stuff. and a decision– go back to the alhambra in the morning and try for some more tickets!!

chilly, but successful, and into the alhambra i go again, this time bathed in much nicer light. got to see a bunch of the place i had missed the night before, including several magnificent reflecting pools, which i shot over and over again– some surrounded by topiaries, and others with archways and the like– words fail to properly describe them.

by the time i get out of the gate once more i am dazzled and on overload– it was just too darn fine for words!! the alhambra is supposed to be one of the very best of these ancient forts, but i have heard that the one in co’rdoba– the mesquite (sp?)– is considered by many to be the best. i shall have to save it for the next time, as it is on to the little town of tarifa the next day– and, for that matter, the next blog as well– will see you there!!

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