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friday, june 19, 2015 the alhambra
After a morning café con leche and a napolitana (my go-to breakfast pretty much every day), we headed up to La Alhambra. If you ever plan to visit La Alhambra, I highly recommend taking a taxi to the entrance. We opted to take this pathway up the hill only to discover that it was very steep. We were halfway up and complaining about our calves burning, so at least we got a good workout. Be sure to check out the picture below of a bench that shows the angle at which we were climbing. I have to say that I've never had a better tasting bottle of water than the one I had when we reached the entrance.

I had purchased the tickets back in March for a guided tour in Spanish for 39 € a piece. We weren't sure whether it would be an individual tour or in a group, though we realized that it clearly said "grupo" on the ticket I had printed out. So at 10:00am, we met our tour guide Arantxa (pronounced 'Arancha'—it's a Basque name) in front of the bar/café where we received our audiobox and earpiece. I thought the set up of the tour was really intriguing in that Arantxa spoke into a small microphone, and we all heard her wirelessly. And we didn't have to be near her to hear well, just as long as we were all on channel 5 we could hear her from anywhere in La Alhambra. Our group consisted of 26 people who were all interested in learning about La Alhambra from a guide who spoke only in Spanish, and she asked us where we were from: Argentina, Nueva York, Madrid, Barcelona, Indiana. I believe there were only four Americans among the 26 members of the group, which I thought was cool.

There is literally a thousand things I could say about La Alhambra, and I learned an immense amount within the three-hour tour, five-sixths of which Arantxa spoke in detail about everything she knew about La Alhambra. She really was an amazing tour guide and was extremely knowledgeable on the history of La Alhambra. I learned that La Alhambra is Arabic for "castillo rojo", which means "red castle", even though La Alhambra was never actually red. Instead it refers to the color of a beard of some guy (I wasn't listening intently all the time, nor was Paul. I'm a horrible learner.) Arantxa refered to La Alhambra as a city and not as a palace, and she was quite insistent on that fact. I also learned that the Moors were very clean people, as they bathed multiple times a day and that women would use bathing time to be social, since it wasn't customary for them to be so elsewhere. La Alhambra was also built in stages, as each new king wanted to add his own personal touch to the place, and you can see changes in style at various points throughout.

In a few words, La Alhambra is simply incredible. I could not believe how much detail was placed into the etched walls of each room, as the writing was pristine and looked like it had been mass manufactured. The intricacies of the designs were so labor-intensive that I coudln't fathom how it was done. What intrigued me about the walls was that it was mentioned that they used to have many colors on them, but through time the colors have worn off and now only a faint hue can be seen in some places. The gardens located throughout La Alhambra were some of the most beautiful I've ever seen, and the periodic views overlooking Granada were awesome. Just take a look below.

The tour was worth the price we paid, and it was a very unique and humbling experience to be able to walk the grounds of La Alhambra. I could go on and on about this place, but I took 200+ pictures, and I'd rather let them speak for themselves. There is a lot of repetition within the pictures simply because I took pictures of everything I could, but there are some incredible views of Granada, fountains, details on walls and ceilings, and maybe a few selfies. Enjoy!

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