La Fragua: Trip to Granada (and Córdoba)

This past weekend I took a trip first to Córdoba for a few hours and then to Granada for two nights. I’ve settled into the town here nicely and really love it, but I decided that I really should see something else since I am here. I am going to see Madrid properly this weekend with my mom when she arrives, but either Granada or Sevilla were a must too. So I chose Granada.

Friday morning I took the bus to Córdoba from our little pueblo. As I walked to the bus I started to panic. I thought I heard a bus is the distance. I tried to quell my fears by telling myself that there are lots of big vehicles on the road that might sound like a bus. The bus wasn’t due for an hour, or was is 30 minutes? No one seemed to know for sure. And that was the real reason for my anxiety. Online timetables and local information seemed to not agree. And that made me nervous. I am used to everything running like clockwork, but here it doesn’t. Here things happen when they happen and that’s about all you can really count on. 

In general I like this. In general a world with less pressure and more room to enjoy the simple and beautiful things of life is better. It pushes me to let go and slow down and love this single, precious life I have. It teaches me to be more patient and respect the paths of others. It shows me just how insignificant my plans are in the grand scheme of things. But when it comes to busses - damn! - I wish they would reliable. 

As it turned out the online timetable was correct and I was indeed an hour early. I had two churros and fresh squeezed orange juice in the cafeteria while waiting. And then I sat my the road in the freezing cold just so I would miss it. It turned up right at 9am. I could breath again.

I spent most of Friday in Córdoba. I went to the medieval synagogue, archeological museum, and did some shopping. I mainly bought clothes and scarves because I have so few here and the European styles are awesome. But I also bought these pink boots. Not my typical purchase. I am still kind of staring at them and scratching my head. Why did I buy them? I don't know.

 the medieval synagogue in córdoba


the tiny San Bartolomé church in Córdoba...honestly the most amazing tiles I've seen anywhere

some amazing artifacts at the archaeological museum 

eating octopus my first night in Granada

Saturday was my big day in Granada. I went on a tour of Alhambra and the Generalife gardens in the morning, walked around the Albayzín district in the afternoon, took a brief nap, and then went back to the Generalife gardens for a night visit. It was all amazingly beautiful. 

Palacio de Carlos V...a renaissance edition after the catholic kings took back over

the gardens outside the entrance to the Palacio Nazaríes

I took so many photos in the Palacio Nazaries that I had to make a slideshow. 107 in total, so sit back and relax. It's worth it!

 

From the Nazaríes Palace we went to the Generalife Gardens. 

my glimpse of the snow capped Sierra Nevada mountains before the clouds came in the hedges and fountains of the Generalife Gardens

the summer palace

Part of why I went away this weekend was to be moving. I love bus rides, train rides, or even driving. Movement always seems to clear my head and unblock the words and images in my mind. I love how the land swishes by and the gentle rocking of the machine soothes me. I feel the tension ease and the smiles come as I watch sheep running through the field, observe the natural rise and fall of the hills and valleys, and spot each pueblo far ahead across the fields before we come to it. 

Running water does the same thing. Sitting by or walking along running water unplugs something in my brain and calms me. The movement and the energy from it has great power in my life. That’s one of the reasons I love my bedroom here in the pueblo so much – I can always here the water running from the Pilar below. And also why I absolutely loved the Water Stairs in Generalife.

the water stairs (there is video footage of this too!)

My tour was moving so fast that I didn't get to shoot any video (though hundred of photos) in the Nazaríes Palace so I started shooting in the small Summer Palace in the Generalife gardens. Got a little bit of night shooting in too, but it is not fabulous.

 As the video shows, I went from the gardens to Alcazaba – the fortress – and then down into the city before returning to the gardens at night.

Alcazaba

the view from Alcazaba

courtyards and terra cotta roof tiles

the streets of the Pomegranate City (granada is pomegranate in spanish)

The city was full of amazing street art. Full murals could be found all over the place. I didn't get great pictures because most of it I saw from the busses, but here are some wonderful shots on flickr. This is one I saw while walking around.

street artsmall stone paved streets, good food and good views...and proving I was thereAfter a nap it was back to the gardens. 

the summer palace at night

Again, too many photos to just put into the post. This slideshow is much shorter (only 21 photos) but beautiful in its own way.

 

I wish I could have captured what it was like to walk through the darker parts of the garden. But maybe there is something about drifting alone, silently through room after room, arch after arch of evergreen hedges that needs to be experienced for oneself. I think it is a journey that would actually be different for everyone. So I sealed the memory in my mind. Standing alone learning how to enjoy solitude in the night accompanied by the sliver of orange magnified moon sinking below the horizon.

I feel things changing, shifting. My time here is speeding up. More people are arriving before I leave and the house is going to fill up. My calm days full of silence are dwindling. So much change makes me a little uneasy – like a big wave – but I just need to fight the panicky feeling and boldly ride the wave home. And at the same time I crave being home. I think I just know the ride home is going to be a little more chaotic than the easy life I have gotten used to for the last few weeks.

I would come back to Spain in a heartbeat. I absolutely love it here. But right now, honestly, the holidays are calling me home. My dad turns 50 a few days after I get back. And there are pies to bake, traditions to keep, a house to decorate, parties to plan, more paintings to paint, shows to prepare for, and gifts to make. Holidays in New England are something I look forward to every year. And this year I will actually have time to enjoy it. The more snow the better. It was a snowy halloween so I’m hopeful for a White Christmas.

just another alleyway