Granada – Malaga; The Alhambra and Nights on the Town

When we arose just after 10 I had some immediate regret, this was bad! I had to lie still for quite some time before getting the energy and motivation to move and ready myself for the day. Why oh, why had we bought that extra bottle of wine!? Getting dressed and packing was quite the task and took triple the normal time with the regular breaks to lie down to prevent any accidental spew incidents. – Oh Spain. We checked out and headed into town for a breakfast and lots of liquid to cheer ourselves up and cure our sorry states. A tomato bread and Spanish omelette later along-with a lemonade, water and a coke meant I was starting to feel the remnants on humanity flow back. Bodega La Bella y La Bestia Origins was a great little bar/restaurant with everyone’s food being both delicious and incredibly cheap. I would definitely recommend to those visiting the city.17015269_1344244382263619_772042215_o

We had left the best until last so to speak – the most famous tourist attraction in all of Spain, the Alhambra. Maeve had knowledgeably informed us prior to the trip that we would have to pre-book tickets with which we opted for the morning slot with a 1pm time to visit the famous Nasrid Palaces. Given our slow morning and that we were all still pretty hanging despite the food we were running slightly behind time. There are 2 options to get up to the Alhambra, you can either walk up or take the tourist tram a’ la Disney. We opted for the former option given the time constraints in the hope the walk would help to banish the last remaining elements of the night before. The walk up was really beautiful and despite the steepness we all really enjoyed gawking at the interesting statues and the continuous flow of water surrounded by greenery provided a touch of serenity. It is a very peaceful area and would have been nice if we had left 45 minutes for the walk rather than having to rush past a lot of stuff to get to our slot in time, the benefits of hindsight.

When we arrived at the top and the entrance to the complex we could see 2 snaking queues. We assumed these must have been for those without the foresight to pre-book and marched around to the ticket collection counter which was strangely cordoned off with a scary looking security man with a dog that was muzzled hanging around. We politely explained to him that we had pre-booked and so could he please let us in to collect our tickets. This was unfortunately met with a despondent look where he pointed to the queue and told us to join it. This was obviously a mistake, what would be the point in pre-booking if you had to queue anyway right? WRONG! Maeve spotted a more helpful looking lady whom she went over to explain our situation to but she again told us to join the very long snaking queue. Only in Spain could you have such a completely nonsensical system of pre-purchased tickets. It actually was beneficial not to pre-book as the on-the-day show-ups queue was shorter and they let a few people in from each queue at a time. We managed to stem our queueing rage and I took the opportunity to maximise my use of time by having a short rest on one of the benches in the sun. When we finally got to collect our tickets we then had to join another queue for entry and then rush through the complex to the Nasrid Palaces where we had already missed our allotted timeslot and there was yet another huge snaking queue. We had no choice but to wait in the queue surrounded by the palace structures and gorgeous views out over the city. Somehow, luck was finally on our side and despite being late (which it categorically states on the ticket will result in no entry) the lovely lady let us past.

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I was so glad as of everything we saw at the Alhambra the Nasrid Palaces were definitely a highlight. The architecture is unlike anything else I have seen in Spain and reminded me a lot of some of the great palaces in India including the Taj Mahal. As you enter in groups it means you then have the chance to wander through the ancient palaces at your own pace which was great and left lots of opportunities for photography. It is basically a lot of quadrangles all encompassed around a main central courtyard which were built up over time and so you have no idea where you are at a given time in terms of the grand scale of the building. It was lovely to wander around gazing out at the majestic views of the city below, surrounded almost entirely by flowing water or pools of flat unwavering water perfect for those reflection pictures. There was an opportunity to get an audio guide but given the palaver getting into the Alhambra complex as a whole we bypassed this which was a shame as there are no signposts or information signed throughout the palace. After the beauty of the Nasrid Palaces and the time wasted queueing we were pretty short on time. We decided to maximise what we had left by wandering through the enormous garden grounds and having some very arty staged pictures taken in the style of a Glee-esque musical by a kind gentleman who took on his new found photographer role with a seriousness I have rarely encountered. We were planning to have a quick look in to the Palace of Generalife but time was not in our favour and we reluctantly headed back to the hotel down the steep wandering hill in the sun.

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It had been long enough to justify having one last wine before we said bon voyage to the vino trio for another trip. We opted for Reca this tiny old bar in the square right where we were staying. We ordered a bottle of cava which of course came with the obligatory tapas – some cheese and ham on bread and then some artichoke and anchovies with sour cream. Unfortunately they ran out of cava for this course and so Ruairidh kindly switched to wine to allow us to savour the last of the cava and they gave us some pickles and olives to apologise for the travesty. Given our goodbye drinks we ordered a taxi to the bus station where we stocked up on snacks before the trauma of bidding our favourite wine friend farewell (oh and Ruairidh too). Fortunately for us the holiday was not quite over yet and we boarded the bus to Malaga to check it out for our last night and morning in Spain. We arrived into the bus station and stupidly took a taxi the 3 minute drive to our hotel – Barcelo Malaga. It was super funky and right next to the bus and train station so a perfect option for those travelling around. It was a 15 minute drive into the centre of Malaga but for us it worked perfectly for the night. We settled in and then took the slide (yes, our hotel had an indoor slide and it was marvellous) to the bar for a pre-evening vino.

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The taxi into the centre was cheap and the city looked gorgeous in the fading light, particularly the huge fortress and modern looking marina. We had done a bit of googling and opted for El Pimpi – a cool tapas bar who are known for their locally harvested sweet wine. We had an absolute feast and it was delicious consisting of a ligeritos pringa – a sandwich with a mixed meat spread and a cheese and meat platter with 2 local reds. Absolutely delicious. We finished the meal with the famous local sweet wine and a small chocolate mousse tapa – it was brilliant and a bit of an institution in Malaga from what we could see. We weren’t quite ready to head home and so instead headed to Los Gatos another top tapas bar for a final drink. This place definitely focussed more on eating but the staff were very friendly and happily brought us over some local red wine. The staff were overly friendly and without us even requesting a second glass we had one and it was distinctly better than the first! We nibbled on some olives and were having some fun chat when I saw someone else had ordered a clear drink that came with a lollipop. I needed to have this. In fact we had four – all of which were free. In fact we paid a total of €5 for 2 large glasses of wine and 4 g&t’s with lollipops and the waiter gave us some extra lollies to take away. What a place! As they were packing up the staff mentioned heading to a nearby bar for some after drinks which given our freebie evening we thought sounded great. It turned out to be a sort of live music club where there was a great band from the US playing and we spent the rest of the night partying away with our new found friends and having a multitude of other beverages. Shotting Malibu is totally a thing! After a flirtatious evening for me and Robyn being offered to be left someone’s fortune despite mild protestation we got a taxi home at 4a.m via a McDonalds around a 30 minute drive from our hotel – come on Spain where are all the late night food options?? We had a mild incident with our bathroom door breaking which proved interesting and had to move rooms but all in all one of the best nights out I have had in a long time.

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As my regular followers will know I usually do a post a day but since you have just read about our epic night you can probably guess that our ability to take in the sights of Malaga the next day was greatly inhibited – in fact we stayed in bed until 12p.m. we managed to grab some food at a little café next to the station called cafeteria Juandi where I had a feast of Galician octopus, chicken croquettes and calamari as well as a coffee, coke and water. It was incredibly cheap which was good since I didn’t manage to finish it all. Luckily, we were a 17 minute journey from the airport so we headed home broken but having had the best trip. The 2 hour Jet2 delay was horrendous given our condition and even a microwaved tikka masala from Mum’s Kitchen in the airport couldn’t save me from the depths of despair. What a weekend – until next time Spain.

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