Our second port was Malaga in Spain. This was my first visit to Spain and we were lucky stop at three ports in this beautiful country. Jan (my mother-in-law) and I, went on a Royal Caribbean organized tour to The Alhambra, which is located a few hours away in the city of Granada.
We woke up very early for a 6:30 am departure. A tip for Explorer of the Seas passengers, you will never find The Windjammer so quiet, as it is when it first opens. Virtually empty. We had just enough time for a cup of coffee and a few bites, before getting on the bus.
I took pictures from the bus window as we headed from Malaga to Granada. What amazed me, was how much the landscape looked like Los Angeles. The small hills and vegetation looked so similar to what I have in my hometown, that If you had removed any buildings and had just shown me the landscape, I would have been hard-pressed to tell the difference.
We reached The Alhambra around ten and it was already scorching hot. All of our days in the Mediterranean were blistering hot. I love the heat, but the humidity is a killer. I'm used to that desert "dry heat".
Our group was large, so our tour guide gave us headsets in lieu of shouting. They had a short range, so the headsets served to keep us all moving and together in a group. If you can't hear her, you'd better pick up the pace!
The primary focus of the tour was on the beautiful gardens, which luckily had plenty of shade.
I really liked the pretty stone work, especially the animal designs.
The Alhambra is named for its red walls and means "Red Castle" in Arabic. It is considered one of the best, if not the very best, example of Islamic architecture in the Western world. The buildings were primarily erected during the reigns of Yusef l (1333-1335) and Mohammed V (1353-1391). It became a Catholic palace in 1492, with Spanish rulers King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella holding court.
Although we didn't go inside the building interiors, we did explore courtyards and some of the rooms directly adjacent to the courtyards. The buildings were very ornate, decorated with arabic writing and intricate designs.
This big tree is the Cypress of Sultana. It is said to be the meeting spot of a queen, who was having an affair with a knight from an opposing family. When the affair was discovered by her husband, the knight's family had their throats slashed in revenge.
I had too many pictures of The Alhambra to squeeze into one post. More to come!