I would imagine that many travelers’ first impressions of Seville are not good ones. Even for me, driving down the Paseo del las Delicias into the city, my initial thoughts of the place were not positive. But Seville will seduce you. It will lull you into thinking that it doesn’t have much to offer, but then it will capture your heart like a Spanish lover.
Over the years we have learned that it is in our best interests not to plan too much to do. We aren’t getting any younger, and we need some “quiet” time to rest and relax. Ergo we build some days into our trips where we don’t have much to do. Today was one of those days. The only thing on our agenda on this day was a scenic trip to a winery high up into the mountains.
Within visible walking distance of Alhambra is the Palacio de Generalife, the summer palace of the Nasrid sultans of Granada. Generalife is Arabic for “Architect’s Garden”. Although smaller than the palace at Alhambra, Generalife has a quiet charm and restful demeanor that the rulers of this volatile region probably required.
To access the Generalife, we had to walk through the gardens separating the Alhambra and the summer palace. Per our tour guide Christina, the sultans typically did not sleep in the summer palace, and rode between the two palaces by horseback, primarily due to fear of assassination. That was their loss, as our stroll through the gardens to the Generalife was soothing walk, even on a hot day like when we visited.
One reason I travel is that I want to be changed. I want to go somewhere and see things that transforms me in a positive way. Alhambra did that for me. To say that I was blown away by the beauty, history and grandeur of the place would be an understatement.
Journey to Granada
With so much to see, we had to get an early start. It is about an hour drive from Nerja to Granada, so our driver Christian picked us up at 8:45am and off we went. The journey there was scenic, with the tall peaks of the Sierra Nevadas all around us. When we arrived at the entrance of Alhambra we met Christina, our local tour guide for the day. As all our guides have been on this trip so far, Christina was extremely knowledgeable about everything on this tour. As we had a little time until we could access the palace/citadel, Christina took that time to explain a little about the history.
Day 4 was a relatively quiet day, mostly traveling from the northeast part of Spain down to the south to Malaga in Andalusia, about 60 miles from the Strait of Gibraltar.
Domestic Flying in Spain
In planning our trip, we debated the best way to get from Barcelona to Andalusia. Eventually we decided to fly and not take a train or car because it would take much less time.
It is always interesting to fly domestically overseas. While we are very comfortable traveling domestically in the US, when we fly within a foreign country, we see the differences in how things work. For example: I don’t like to rush when I’m flying. I like to budget a lot of time for check-in, security, etc. Flying is stressful enough for me. I don’t want to add the concern of missing my flight to it. We left our hotel in Barcelona at 9:45 and arrived at Barcelona airport about 30 minutes later. Typically Sunday mornings are not busy times at our local airport. That is NOT the case in Barcelona, the airport was packed. However our flight is not until 12:20 and we had priority check-in so we were not concerned.
When we visited Barcelona many years ago, we never got to go outside the confines of the city. This time around we wanted to make sure that we got out of the city. Our plan was to see some of the small villages and towns in Catalonia, between Barcelona and the Pyrenees Mountains. For this, we decided to try something new… again. In addition to our valued tour guide Monica, we secured the services of a car (and driver) for the day. When I travel, I don’t care to drive if I can help it. In a foreign country in particular, DJ and I typically use public transport (buses, trains) or get a taxi. It saves me from having to investigate the local driving laws. Plus, we get to see how the locals get around. In the end that makes us feel more like travelers and less like tourists.
However, public transportation would not be a good option here for a day trip. We were surprised to find out how cheap it was to have our own driver. Call me elitist if you want, but when it comes to travel, my goal is always to keep things easy. Have a chauffeur for the day and be driven around in a spacious Mercedes town car? Sign me up!