Leaving Madrid and first views of Granada

Madrid AirBNB

TV in the apartment was fascinating: Chanel 1 was an extended advertorial with a very fat Dr Kang who uses acupuncture and a little moxibustion to effect miracles, according to testimonials from his patients. He follows, and is in turn followed by a person who injected variscosities, one venule at a time. This same show was on two nights running. Probably in case viewers missed the providers’ phone numbers. Chanel 2 advertised, seemingly also continuously, various chemical methods of weight loss and the resultant bodies; Chanel 3 provided a continuing discussion of the bible and the channels after these all had no signal or advertised that they were showing a ‘data test’ which was the same thing. Really.  

Leaving Madrid

The Madrid city centre, between the Sol and Opera stations, is very busy at 6.30am with people going home, walking, sitting, talking after a night out. Cleaners in their distinctive green overalls pushing large brooms or other equipment or, talking in small groups. None of the many local beggars around that early. With many taxis in the vicinity I didn’t have to walk far. Fixed price to the airport and the ride takes about 30′. Yes, trains are a lot cheaper but I’d need three trains and have previously proved adept at catching them in the wrong direction. So, better to catch a taxi sometimes. 

Madrid airport again. Yet again each board gave different information, the gate has changed (but it was K92 a while ago and still is), the flight is boarding now, is delayed and leaving 20′ late. Reminds me of my memorable first time in a Spanish airport, before I realised how flexible the information provided is and the need to check it and to check again. I broke land speed records getting from one end of the terminal to the other that day arriving at the finally selected gate as it shut. Phew. Easier this time as I knew to be very careful!

Granada

Flying in you see the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains. They soar up and over the area. The snow line looks relatively low and the whole valley surrounding Granada was covered in mist. High enough above the ground that the vision coming in was ok. 

From the plane, lots of olive trees. For km out you can see them up and down the hills of this region.  Yes, lots of hills. Will be great for walking as I’m at risk of losing condition.

The outskirts are unprepossessing. As in most towns over the world. The number of apparently empty buildings raises questions about the local economy.  The taxi driver told me things are bad in Spain and here too. As we know. 

In the centre of the city most houses seem new.  Maybe just well maintained as they don’t have the sterile block appearance of housing in the new areas and satellite towns in Spain. 

AirBNB apartment in Granada 

I’m waiting for David, my AirBNB host, in a plaza near the property, also near the Granada Cathedral. This square looks very promising as a place to sit, study and to drink coffee. Has very nice toast and tomato. It’s the usual larger Spanish plaza:  a central area surrounded by outdoor restaurants. A few small, transient looking buildings around the central area. The trees surrounding the square are in new leaf, the soft green of spring.  

Many touristy shops here, a replica of an Arab souk, and local options too, fruit and veggies, for example. This area is to the south east of the Granada Cathedral, an area I’m sure I’ll get to know very well over the next month.

The apartment is exactly as advertised: cosy but with a nice modern deco and furniture.   On the third floor and there is a lift for the last two. Washing machine that doubles as a drier, fridge, MW etc. And the flat is light and bright, on a corner overlooking two pedestrian streets. Beneath are a Japanese takeaway and a tavern. So, great apartment and an excellent location. 

Some views down and up both ways along the street from the apartment. The street is busy but the noise is ok. And see my ‘neighbour’ across the way. I happened to see them out watering their plants.

 

  

  


 

  First to buy a few things:  food for a start. Clearly there are interesting cultural differences:  again, no kettle but the hot plates this time are rapid. No cutting board or vegetable peeler. Perhaps most people staying here eat out as there are so many local options. 

And then there was the greengrocer! Never have I seen such an inefficient system. Imagine a small shopfront with narrow access down one side of the display with the scales and plastic bags at the back, in the middle. And the storekeeper:  an overly large guy working so hard as one item at a time was requested by a shopper. No self serve. No self selection. After he selected each lot of fruit he went back, weighed it and wrote the cost down. Then picked up another plastic bag and came out the front again. Filled the bag and went in again, weighed it etc. Multiply this process for an awkward guy getting down the narrow access for 4 or 5 items per customer. It took a long time to get served!  No, I won’t be going back. I really only stayed cos I couldn’t believe how he served his customers! And how slow the process was. 

Alhambra

Had to explore around Alhambra today.  It was a bit chilly and you can see the usual excellent statue memorial on the way up.

   

   

You walk up a steep hill north west of central Granada. Once you are in the Alhambra area you are assailed by the soft noise of running water in the wide gutters and the smell of the extended privet hedge beside the road. 

Wonderful large trees and some old walls and an old gate, the Bib-Rambla gate. See the signature Arab shape of the entrance. 

   

   

Pleased I was just exploring today. The crowd waiting to get in at about 10.30 am was large although largely obscured by the pencil pines over to the side. 

 

I walked around the hill to the side of Alhambra. And down to town again. These shots show how Granada looks from up there and some of the White Andalucian houses in the vicinity. Note the old entrance to underground storage that is presumably still used.    

      

And a few shots from around the Alhambra area: oranges on trees with the leaves on the trees in the background still not fully opened; and some of the many olive trees.

   

Looking for a supermarket but, sigh, it’s Spain and the only likely options will be the ‘express’ version that focuses on soft drinks, chips etc. Sure enough, not much is open except cafes. Everywhere tables can be put on a footpath there will be one. With it being Sunday many cafes are very busy as two of these street scenes show and another the buildings near here. Plus, there was a bike swap or show and tell down near the river. Mainly scooters. 

   

     

So far, coming to Granada seems to have been an inspired choice. School starts tomorrow. I hope it’s as good as the last one I was at, in Madrid. 

PS I can’t adjust the photos. I set the size and location and sometimes it works. And sometimes it doesn’t! 

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