Madrid to Granada

Breakfast in Madrid can be so good. Toast with a finely minced tomato, served with olive oil, remains my favourite here. The cafe opposite the hotel opens very early, by 07:00, and serves good coffee with breakfast. All up €2.50. Not bad and a bonus compared to the airport options in Madrid. 

Well, my sailing gear is in a small bag in hotel storage for when I next return to Madrid. Don’t know when that will be yet. Could be soon, may not be until early November. 

Still, I’m carrying too much! My pack weighed 5.5kg at Madrid airport checkin and my small bag another 1kg. Not sure where I’ve gone wrong as I’d like the combined weight to be 5kg or less. This is my first time without even one pole so I thought I had it made. And no sleeping sheet, just an ultralight sleeping bag. But, I have more leads than ever, a small solar charger. Are they the problem? 

Or is it just the warmer clothes I didn’t have my first time here and needed so many mornings. Maybe it’s ok. Most daily distances on my first leg to Córdoba aren’t high. Most. I can bus, or walk, the 37km day into Córdoba and will decide when I’ve reached the town before. I’m basically lazy so I suspect I’ll bus it unless I’ve found an interesting walking companion or have too much energy.

Marquis Hotel Issabel’s in Granada 

Not often I want to mention a hotel by name but this has some very interesting features. For a start, WiFi speed is 50+Mb/sec! Second time ever I’ve encountered fast WiFi in a hotel, previously in Lisbon. Here also has a kettle and a refined Japanese-type toilet. (I need the toilet manual as I’m sure it could talk to me if I just knew how to ask.) 

But wait, there’s more: I couldn’t see a tv and had to ask. It’s behind what looks like a mirror. Adds to a very impressive room. An added bonus is the European plumbing smell as befits an older building despite the great update of the lower two floors for the hotel. Looks like run down apartments above the very trendy new bit. 


The bathroom light movement sensor is very convenient, albeit a bit sensitive so I have to trick it off or it’s on whenever I move anywhere. 

There’s also a spa and a Turkish bath in the bowels of the building and the hotel’s location is great, central and close to where I plan to start walking on Wednesday. Very happy.

Why do I care about tv? Good for listening to a range of Spanish speakers after months away from here. Well, that’s only partly honest. Only on Spanish language tv do I see such exciting programs as ‘Kilos Mortales’ (about people who weigh 600lb or more and are participating in a surgical weight loss program) and ‘Naked and Alone’, the silliest program ever, summed up by its name.  

Both are great for practising aural Spanish. I also buy a newspaper daily for vocabulary and wonder if I’ll ever be fluent. At least now waiters and hotel staff don’t automatically always revert to english only. 

What is it about me that shouts ‘english speaker’? Apparently I ‘look’ english, Spaniards have told me. Odd. They can’t explicate what makes me look english though. Too tall? I towered over my fellow church goers this morning, by at least 15cm!

Walked familiar streets, bought a piece of best cheese cake ever from a shop that only sells that. And enjoyed being in a warm place where many are on holidays. 

Just looking around in Granada

I’m looking for areas and places I’ve not walked on previous visits to Granada. There is something on at one of the churches, the Basilica de Nuestra Senora de las Augustias. 

A huge juggernaut is in the church, to one side. It features Mary on top with a wooden Jesus lying across her lap. Four guards are on duty beside it, alongside a donation box. The flowers are beautiful and there is a steady stream of locals walking up to it, looking at it, taking photos, mainly with phones. 

Most of the locals in the church are older women, nearly all with very nicely done hair, although it is early in the week. In other places in spain I’ve noticed older women seem to get their hair set late in the week, possibly for church and family dinners. Today is only Tuesday. All power to the local hair salons that make their hairdos last so well. 

An interesting social phenomenon I’ve noticed before: an old lady led or helped by a younger woman looking like a typical Incan or Mayan, from South America, in other words. I’ve already seen a few such pairings in the church this morning. I wonder how common it is?

Outside this particular church is a shrine to our lady of Lourdes. Very colourful. Not so colourful, the beggars on each entrance.

Inside, after the beggars, is one of those mixes between the Moores and Christianity, so common in this area:  a tiled image of a saint over the top of a running water feature. And beautifully coloured.


More water:  I visited the remnants of an old palace down in the central area of town, just to look at its garden and water features. The Moores certainly knew how to use water to good effect. Long trenches with water sprayed in, central fountains in pools. They sounds of running water adds to the overall effect. I want one!


Lunch

Fighting with other geriatrics to get to the front of the cheese counter was too much:  I gave up. Went to a tapas bar I remembered. For the price of 2 coke lights I got a plate of fried eggplant and a stew. All up it cost €4.70.  A good outcome. 

Continuing the Camino Mozarabe 

Last year I walked from Almeria on the coast to Granada. This year I’m planning to continue from Granada to Merida, the old roman city on the Vía de la Plata Camino. 

Two stages: first, alone, from Granada to Córdoba and the second, from Córdoba to Granada when I’m hoping to find my two guys from last year. Benedo is walking some of the route from Granada but a few days behind me. I’ve tried to keep in touch with Benedo and Manolo since they suggested I join them again this year but they don’t tend to answer emails. I’ll WhatsApp them once I’m going as it’s a popular app here and I know both use it. 

As it’s the day before I get going I’m edgy. Always happens and I don’t know why. I know as much as you can before I’ve done it, where I’m going, have accommodation options and phone numbers, map and even track profiles, much more than when I walked the Via de la Plata in 2013. Much more. 

And I’ve done this a few times now so why get edgy? No idea. Sometimes I worry if I’ll find somewhere to stay as many small towns here have nothing. But the distances for most days are not long, most stops have at least one type of accommodation. So, I don’t know why but I am edgy.

I was planning on buying food today and again, I’m at risk of taking too much. Maybe an orange to join my nuts and nut bars. Oh, and the Werthers toffees that I eat only when I’m walking, and sparingly even then. 

Shouldn’t be too hot, high 20s, and there are a couple of very small towns on the way to Pinos Puente. I’m expecting olive groves, olive groves and more olive groves. Harvesting is happening now and many olives are small due to a lack of rain. 

Wish me luck! 

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