My two friends, Cale and John Lee, with whom I visited Porto and spent some time tooling around Lisbon, invited me to join them in Grenada, Spain after they decided I couldn’t possibly annoy them any more than I already did.
Not knowing anything at all about Grenada, I looked up their national anthem first (as of course we all do before visiting a new culture). I edited it for brevity and with just some slight changes):
Hello Muddah, hello Faddah, here I am in, the city of Grenada!
Spain is very entertaining, and they say we’ll have some fun if it stops raining.
I went hiking with Cale and John Lee, the many sights were fun to see.
I won’t remember most of them though, because my retinas are burned from the Flamenco show.
Flying in coach ain’t for sissies, especially if your legs are longer than most missies.
All the Spanish hate Americans, until we offer, Sangria from our jericans!
Just kidding, they love no one better. Muddah, Faddah kindly disregard this letter!
With apologies to Allan Sherman, who most of you probably have never heard of, but that from was a famous song of his from 1963, when I was only 34.
Grenada is a town in the southern part of Spain with a population of about a quarter million. It is perhaps most famous for the Alhambra, which is a Moorish citadel and palace. It was a key (and last) fortress during the Muslim occupation of the Iberian Peninsula, when they marched up from Africa to expand their empire. They were finally thrown out in 1492, at which point the Spanish decided to celebrate by sending Christopher Columbus off the edge of the earth. Everyone hated Columbus, so they were hoping he’d just fall off and go away. When that didn’t happen, they sent Amerigo Vespucci to map the land and name it after someone other than Columbus. I’m glad he used his first name, I’m not sure I’d want to be called a Vespuccian.
One of the things we of course had to do was go see a flamenco show.
It was purple.
Actually, it was interesting to observe the gypsy influence on the dance. The presentation felt as if we were sneaking a peek into a gypsy camp. Or maybe it was just that the woman looked like a gypsy, truly.
She provided the bulk of the entertainment as far as I’m concerned (they also had a singer who shouted his words at the top of his lungs, a pretty good guitar player, and a male dancer). This flamenco-stomping grandmother’s facial expressions were priceless. I am not kidding when I say she often made the exact same face as this one from Carolyn. I mean, the exact same expression. Except she was homely, and Carolyn is anything but. We weren’t allowed to take pictures until the end, my guess is they enforce that because by then she’s too tired to continue making faces.
It seems the point of flamenco is to stomp as hard on the floor as you possibly can. My guess is that the dance originated in poorer areas where there were lots of cockroaches. The winner was whoever stomped the most cockroaches.
Now it’s a dance. We really expected something more akin to the picture to the right, but maybe they just humor grandma every so often.
Anyway, we still had a good time, but next time I’m going to want a preview of the dancers. The man was pretty good, and it was all rather charming, but it wasn’t quite what I expected. The one we went to was called the best show in town. I’d hate to see the facial expressions of the lesser ones.
The Alhrambra was definitely the highlight of the visit (aside from the delightful company of my companions of course). It’s a vast complex with many beautiful gardens and awesome architecture. I’m always impressed with what they were able to build way back when without any technology.
Just to keep things simple, a slide show of the best of Alhambra is below this 3D image of the place. We’re the little dots on top of the tower looking at the view of a giant leather handbag.
We enlisted the aid of a tour guide to take us around the town. She wasn’t particularly good, but we did learn some things along the way, little of which I remember, partly because she was a little hard to understand, plus she kept mispronounciating all sorts of words.
We tipped her well anyway because she seemed a nice person.
She did tell one story I do recall that was kinda funny. Apparently the statue below was snuck –snuck!– onto the top of this building in the middle of the night without permission or permit. Ten years later, they still aren’t sure whether they’re going to leave it up or what to do with it.
In addition, apparently no one knows that the hell that is on the end of the horse’s tail. I think it might be flying horse poop. Or some kid hanging on for dear life. It’s a mystery.
Of course no blog post would be complete without presenting a Door of the Day. I have to carry the torch in Carolyn’s absence!
And here are some photos of the architecture around town:
Below is the view from our room at the apartment we stayed in. We were right in the middle of the action, which largely consists of shop after shop of Islamic-influenced clothing, art, and trinkets, all of them offering virtually the same thing at roughly the same prices. It’s like going to a grocery store where the fruit is nothing but bananas.
Below are some panoramic shots. The first one is of a Coliseum-esque structure and is completely round, I just twirled in a circle until I fell down from dizziness. What I won’t do to get my loyal readers a great shot!
Unfortunately, graffiti is ever present, even on historic sites:
Some of you will get it, some won’t.
After getting drunk on 18 sangrias and wandering around town, arm in arm, singing Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah! at the top of our lungs (to the bafflement of virtually everyone), we woke up the next morning, poured some sangria over our Cheerios, and then went our separate ways. I had a long layover in Madrid, and so decided to take the train into town to just wander around. Here are some of the sights:
Of course, no visit to Madrid would be complete without visiting the famous Trump Madrid Hotel. Oh, wait, something tells me this isn’t a Trump building. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but the clue is there somewhere…
A big thing in Madrid, at least on this square, was a bunch of characters in various costumes, posing for a picture and a tip. This guy is holding himself up with one hand. He did it for hours! Some Spanish people are really strong!
Of course, occasionally you could peek behind the scenes. I guess you could say the guy in the yellow boots took it literally when he was told to get his head out of his ass.
This lady had the ingenious idea to paint herself up like she was made of sand. She just sat there with her eyes closed the entire time, even as these school kids came in for a closer look. She just kept napping. Not a bad gig: sit on a chair and nap all day while people put coins in your hat. Just slightly more work than my retirement, but it pays better.
I couldn’t help but get a kick out of the sign below. And of course I had to disprove the idea by physically entering. Maybe they mean it’s physically impossible to enter if you’re only 1.8 meters tall, which is about 4 gallons in metric.
The Madrid airport is yuuge. At 7,500 acres (52 centigrade in metric), it is the largest airport in Europe in terms of physical size. I had plenty of time when I got back there after visiting downtown Madrid, so I walked in a straight line for seven million centimeters, at which point I needed to call a cab to get back to my gate. Unfortunately, cabs don’t operate inside the terminal, so I just sat on someone’s cart who appeared to be headed my way. You can always get away with a lot when you don’t speak the native language.
So there you have it. For less than a couple hundred euros, I could fly from Lisboa to two beautiful cities in Spain. I’ll have to take Carolyn back to Madrid; I only skimmed the surface, and it’s quite a bustling city. More cosmopolitan than Lisboa, but I’ll still take Lisboa any day, because it’s cute enough to pinch its little Portuguese cheeks!