2012 April 30 – Day 50 – Málaga, Spain

We had a day at sea between Castelleón and Málaga and we were happy to rest up before the final few ports.  Obviously I had many photos to sort through.

Málaga was settled in 830 BC and has a current population of 650,000.  Like the rest of Spain, Málaga is heavily Catholic but we traveled over two hours to the city of Granada to see a Muslim-Hispano complex – the 14th-century Alhambra (meaning Red Castle).  Olive groves stretch for miles. There are over 400 million olive trees in Spain. 7,600 people per day visit the site and tours are split into smaller groups (no more than 30) and you have an assigned entrance time; with a half hour leeway.  We had some slower people in our group and consequently we just made our deadline.  The complex includes the Royal Palace of the Arabic Kings and the Granadan Alcazaba (9th-century ‘fortress’ tower).  The last of the Moors were ousted from Spain in 1492 when King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella re-conquered Spain.  The Mosque was turned into a Catholic Church and the palace became the site of the Royal Court.  Once we were inside we had plenty of time to walk through two palaces and a fabulous garden.  Our guide kept everyone moving, not too fast, but steady, through the palace but we could stroll much more leisurely in the gardens.             The composition of the stone pillars was beautiful.                          There is lots of very intricate carving!

    This is the ceiling on the alcove in the right hand photo above.Both ends of a lovely reflection pond. The Moors were Arabs from the desert so they loved their water features and made sure they had lots of them.
   The Moors decorate every surface, with either tiles or carvings.  I really like this picture of arches behind arches, behind arches.  Another photographer’s paradise: with different textures, shapes and colours everywhere you look.

This courtyard is called Patio de los Leones (Lion Court) because of the  fountain.  The feline figures are oddities, since the Qu’ran forbids decorative representations of animals and human beings.  The fountain had just been replaced after an extensive restoration.  It was not yet out of its packing box and working. Looking out the windows you see a very pretty, secluded, central garden. Author Washington Irving traveled to Granada in 1828 and was granted access to the palace.  He was inspired to write “Tales of Alhambra,” a series of essays and stories.  Irving filled notebooks and journals with descriptions and observations though he did not believe his writing would ever do it justice.  He wrote, “How unworthy is my scribbling of the place.”

This cute animal figure was on a window that overlooked the town of Granada.

These beautiful cobblestone patios are made up of thousands of small stones.          The reflecting pools make the gardens so serene.Alhambra is a gorgeous example of Muslim architecture.  Inside the complex there are palaces, military buildings, a fortress and an administrative center.  There are detailed mosaics, prism-style cupolas and stone-cast latticework.  Even though we only were able to see a few of the rooms,  it was really lovely and a great place to visit.It was a short walk from Alhambra to Generalife gardens.  The gardens surround what was once the summer residence of the Moorish kings.  Little is left of the buildings but the gardens are fabulous.                                         What gorgeous hedges! It takes a lot of work and a lot of time to keep all the hedges looking so clean and crisp.  Notice the two measuring sticks laid on the top. The wisteria was so pretty.  It was still quite early in the spring but many of the trees and flowers were beginning to bloom.  A buffet lunch was served at a restaurant just outside the grounds and then it was back on the bus for the drive back through Granada, into the countryside and then on to Málaga and the ship.  What a great day.  We had been warned to be prepared to do a lot of walking and they hadn’t lied.  We arrived at 5:15 with weary feet and just enough time to change for dinner.

After dinner we went into the terminal to see if we could find some wi-fi, but the shop was closed so we went to our cabin and were happy to go to bed early and get some rest before we arrived in Tangier at 6:30 the next morning.

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