Surviving The Alhambra in Granada

Posted on September 18, 2012

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During my last week in Andalucia, I visited the famous Moorish palace and fortress complex situated in Granada; The Alhambra. It had been one of the things I looked forward to most, as I had been told that it was absolutely beautiful.

It was true, the buildings, gardens and view of the city below were absolutely stunning. Sadly for me, the entire area was packed with people and I hadn’t slept at all the night before, making it all the more difficult for me to actually enjoy being there. I was tired, annoyed and hungry. Had I been better prepared, I’m pretty sure the experience would have been a lot more pleasant.

A few things one could do to make an Alhambra visit easier:

Get your tickets in advance
Lucky for me, this I did. I had already read numerous travel articles about it and all of them mentioned enormous queues. You can order your ticket online and print it out at ServiCaixa ATM machines that can be found all over Spain. I really can’t stress it enough, the queus are indeed gigantic, you will be standing in line for hours and if you’re unlucky you won’t even be able to get in as the tickets for that day may have sold out. Plan your visit and choose your times wisely. I got an entry ticket for 9 am and had to wait around until 1 pm before I could enter the Nasrid palaces. I don’t like waiting when I’m this cranky.

Take the bus & wear good shoes
I’m used to walking everywhere. It’s healthy, it’s cheap and there’s usually plenty of things to see along the way. So naturally, we decided to walk the distance from the city centre up to the gates of the complex. Big mistake. It’s up a hill, and a steep one at that. Don’t forget that you will spend the rest of the day walking around already, do yourself a favor and spend the €1,30 on a busticket.

Bring food & water
We got hungry. Tough luck. Apart from one very expensive hotel restaurant and a couple of overpriced vending machines with prepacked sandwiches  there are no places to sit down and have a bite. After all the great tapas we’ve had over the past weeks, prepacked sandwiches were a huge disappointment.

Deal with it
Normally, I’m not that easily bothered. I can adapt quickly and can accept situations the way for what they are. But not that day. With no sleep, no food and no place to lay down and close my eyes for a while (I got sent away by angry security guards) I was in a very cranky state. Not at all fit for dealing with a couple thousand very excited tourists who don’t hesitate to push you out of their way in order to get the perfect picture. Don’t do what I did. Instead take a deep breath, try to live in the moment and ignore the background noise.

In the end, I don’t regret going up there at all. I do regret beating myself up over being so cranky all day. Looking back now, I realize that while sometimes you have the energy to walk around all day and party all night, sometimes you just get tired. Sometimes a site or place just doesn’t live up to your expectations. And that’s perfectly okay. At least we got the pictures!

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Posted in: Spain