Like I have posted here earlier, fleeting friendships are born and like a cloud, they disappear.
I looked forward to the trip to The Alhambra – which means “red castle” in Arabic – and as it was said by many people, the tickets are hard to get, some have been reserved months in advance. However, there was one opportunity left for me and that was to be at the opening gate long before it opened at 8 a.m.
The ticket manager, who I have mentioned before is a teacher who wants to teach in California, told me to catch the first Alhambra bus at 7 a.m. in order to get in the front of the line. A few people without advanced tickets would be able to get in, only in this way.
Getting up early means I wake up nearly every hour on the hour until it’s time to get up and dressed.
So by 6 a.m., I was on the way to the bus that would be in front of the large cathedral.
t was dark when I left and remained dark until about 8 a.m.
From 6:10 a.m. until about 7:45 a.m. I roamed the street up and down. There were no coffee shops opened, but there were many young people who I assumed were walking to college classes. Then a couple walked up; and we discussed as much as possible the bus stop and then she began in English – for she lived for 5 years in New York City, as did her husband did for 8 years.
Then another lady joined us. It was Ana, who is from Argentina and is fluent in English as she is an English professor in her country. We boarded the bus and then kept each other company – all four of us under the couple’s umbrella – as it rained hard while we waited for the magic 8 a.m. hour when the gate would open. Once we got into the gate with our tickets, Ana and I went one way together while the couple went another way. Ana and I found a hotel on the way to the site and went in and sat down in the lobby. Old fashioned photos and mirrors, pottery and statues sat on shelves before us as we sipped our coffee from porcelain cups and saucers. After standing in the rain for nearly and hour and an hour before that, my legs needed a rest.
Then Ana and I began our tour in the rain, first in the watch tower and other buildings, and a museum. After about two hours of climbing up and down steps, I avoided the very last steep corridor up to the top of the tower, and sat down instead. I saw Ana wave to me from above. Believe me, I saw enough of the views from the tops of staircases and platforms to make me happy. It felt good to sit down on steps.
We saw gardens of rain dropped roses and other flowers in bloom on the grounds, which is near The Cathedral that is located in the centre of the muslim area and dates back to 1523.
The word General-life – a garden of paradise – was granted by the Catholic Monarchs to the Granada Venegas family.
“I’ve seen enough. If you have also, then I think it would be fine to leave.”
“Wait, I think we’ve missed something.”
“How can you say that? We’ve been walking and climbing for two hours.”
Ana asked a man standing inside the Cathedral, and I observed him discussing something with her and describing a direction.
She came back to me and announced that we missed the most important site, the Alhambra castle.
“What? Wasn’t that what we just saw?
“No, it’s over here.”
We walked over to a spot that I had seen earlier that was cornened off to the public, and she pointed out a live of people with umbrellas.
“That’s where we want to go.”
We went right up to the front of the line to show our tickets and the ticket taker told us our tickets had run out of time.
That was a surprise to me, and to Ana, as well. Then she remembered that the couple mentioned to pay close attention to the time on the ticket or we’d miss out on seeing the castle.
The ticket man told us we could go to an office and get the time extended. Well, to make this shorter, we walk-ran up stone walks, down and up steps, in and out of buildings, asking questions, getting lost, until we found the tiny office.
The lady in the office asked Ana why we were late getting to the castle, and Ana told me later that she just said we were so enamored we what we say that we lost track of time. She’s good!
So, we got up again to the front of the line and to everyone’s dismay in the long line, we were told to go ahead and go into the castle. I thought for sure, we’d be punished and told to get in line again.
Well, to tell you the truth, if I had missed The Alhambra castle I would have kicked myself all the way back to America. How stupid would that have been?
The Alhambra was a fortress, a palace and a small city, and features elaborate moroccan interior, with tile work on walls, filigree on the ceilings and arches, pillars, baths in a series of courts. There are pools, a lion room, with water squirting out from the lions.
The Alhambra dates back the the 24th century and is the work of the kings, Yusuf 1 and Muhammed V.
Since the 16th century the palaces have been designated the Casa Real Viejo – the Old Royal House in order to distinguish them from the Christian buildings.
The Alhambra has three divisions that are often found in Moslem palaces: a reception salon and the royal apartments called the Chamber of the Lions, as previously mentioned. This is the work of Muhammed V.
Arab Baths – symbolic of the city’s religious turmoil centuries ago. The baths were built by the Muslims for their belief that water was a symbol or purity. Christians believed this to be decadent and heathen-like so most of the baths were destroyed. The Moorish life in Granada gave social importance to the day-to-day live in Arab-era Granada.
Ana, while we walked in and out of the area of baths, told me there were Muslim baths now in Granada with steam rooms and other amenities.
After we indeed, had seen all there was to be seen, Ana and I went to a restaurant near the grounds and had chicken, gazpacho and wine. And then we got on the bus, which dropped us off where the bus picked us up bright and early that morning. We said goodbye, and that is the end of another fleeting friendship.