Friday, June 7, 2013

We Visited Granada – 23 Apr 2013

A bit about the trip - Some felt that the ‘Value for Money’ quotient was less on this Trafalgar Trip. They were extremely unhappy about the way Barcelona was handled or for that matter Valencia. All our visits were to public places where entry is free – such as gardens, churches, city centre etc. One had to pay considerable amount to go in for ‘Optionals’. Having said that - it is always better to plan your own trip - booking of hotels, what to see, how long etc. Self, Jai, Nair and Sudhi went to Greece – Athens, Santorini etc and Vienna in 2007. The entire trip was planned and executed sitting in Bangalore – courtesy the internet. The trip was excellent. One can choose this route provided the number is less. The same was the case last year, when we went with Kats and Naveen to Sri Lanka. On the other hand when travelling with a large number of people – such as twelve in our case – it becomes extremely difficult to co-ordinate the programme – too many requirements to be met. Some prefer visits to churches and museums, others favour the night life and some may just want to sit and relax. Food is another issue; I am not at all in favour of eating Indian food on a foreign holiday; try telling this to a pure vegetarian. Quite a few would like to ‘bend an elbow’ with a ‘Sun Downer’ at the end of the day. The prohibitionists in the group generally get together to voice a different opinion. There’s a popular saying in Chile that an abstainer is generally distrusted; the assumption is that the only reason one might not drink is to take advantage of others when they have had too much to drink. With all these problems on hand it is better to ask somebody else to organize your trip and make the most of it. If things do go wrong or do not meet your expectations – you can always blame others.

David kept us busy with various tidbits of information about how coffee prices went up when the peseta gave way to the euro. Joining the EU had a great impact on the population. The salaried class was the worst off and felt cheated– as elsewhere. The people who suffered the most were the working class who were not into buying or selling and the office goers. Many do not want to be a part of the EU. In the mean time David says Spaniards will continue to smile and enjoy life.

All the couples in the bus shifted seats so that we had different neighbors in the bus. We got a chance to know each other a bit. Every morning we wished each other loudly and shook hands – a good way to start the trip. David never forgot to ask us to thank our coach driver, Alberto, from Lisbon. In Spain, Castilian and Basque are considered pure Spanish Languages. The rest are all dialects or accented Spanish. All orange farms are owned by local farmers. Earlier on, the oranges were harvested by illegal immigrants. Due to the economic down turn a large number of Spaniards left the country. There are a large number of Peruvians, Romanians, Bulgarians and Moroccans immigrants in Spain today.

The Osborne Sherry company founded by Thomas Osborne Mann in 1772 erected large images of bulls starting in 1956 to advertise their Brandy de Jerez. The images were black with the brand "Veterano" in red on it. Advertising boards were located near major roads throughout Spain. The government did not like the Logo close to the road as it was a distraction. The company moved the hoardings back but made the bull bigger. Then the government told them to erase the bull or the words – the bull won.

Figure 1 – The Brandy Bull

Brown bears, lynx, parrots, eagles, falcons, storks, fox, deer, vipers and wild pigs make up the wild life of Spain.

A number of Moroccans visit these parts for shopping. To prevent them washing their feet in the wash basin prior to Namaz, the restaurants provide a special fountain for them.

The older the olive tree, the costlier it gets. A 400 year old tree may cost €2000/-.

David talked about Spanish music; in fact he would play some lovely Spanish numbers when he wasn’t telling us stuff in the bus. He mentioned Sanz Alejandro - singer-songwriter and musician, Pablo Alborán, Racio Jurado - singer and actress, Racio Durcal another singer and actress and Mecano a Spanish pop band formed in the early 1980s, active until 1992, which had a brief comeback in 1998. Mecano, he said, is still the best-selling Spanish band to this date, reaching over 25 million albums worldwide. Descanso Dominical’s album reaffirmed their stardom as worldwide artists. Paco De Lucia is a Spanish Flamenco guitarist, composer and producer. He is a leading proponent of the New Flamenco style, and is one of the first flamenco guitarists who has also successfully crossed over into other genres of music such as classical and Jazz. Vincente Amigo is also a Spanish flamenco composer and virtuoso gutarist.

But the cake goes to - Julio Iglesias a Spanish singer and songwriter who has sold over 300 million records worldwide in 14 languages and released 80 albums, and had more than 2,600 gold and platinum records certified. After college, he was a European-football goalkeeper for Real Madrid Castilla. In 1962, he was involved in a car crash that smashed his lower spine and his legs were permanently weakened as a direct result. During his hospitalization, a nurse gave him a guitar so that he might have something to do with his hands. In learning to play, he discovered his musical talent.

The Drive from Valencia

Figure 2 – Jai appreciating something at a distance

Figure 3 – Kats and Navin at the halt

Figure 4 – Girls relaxing at a technical stop

Figure 5 – Kats and self at a technical stop

Figure 5A – Sunder and Dore resting for a while

Figure 6 – Fascinating country side

Figure 7 – Passing through Puerto Lumbreras

Figure 8 – Out skirts of Purullena

Figure 9 – Approch to Purullena

Halt at Purullena Guadix and Cave Houses

After a technical halt we stopped at Purullena a municipality located in the privince of Granada. We visited a cave home - Museo La Inmaculada. Cueva Tipica is a delightful showcase of cave homes that is located on the “Hill of the Immaculate One.” The cave dwelling features period tools, cookware, and furnishings and hoard of other interesting artifacts. The Purullena caves are from Arabic origin. 30 Years ago everyone in this town lived in caves. Today 1100 people still live in cave homes. That is why Purullena is known as the Troglodytic City. The houses in the caves are dug out of the mountains. They didn't use any construction materials; they only painted them with white chalk. Chalk is a natural paint which is porous and the air can circulate preventing humidity in the cave.

In the inside of the cave it is not possible to put doors, because the air needs to circulate. That is why they have curtains to separate the rooms. There are also chimneys through which the air enter and can circulate. The ceilings are dome-shaped to avoid that the caves will collapse and also to distribute the weight towards the outer side of the walls. The material from which the caves have been made is Arcilla which is special clay.

The temperature inside the cave is controlled – it is cool in summer and warm in winter. Family of four stay in the cave. The entire experience was memorable.

Figure 10 – The Cave House

Figure 11 – A very colorful souvenir shop

Figure 12 – Nair is awed

Figure 13 – A young child in the cave house – owner’s daughter

Figure 14 – The owner has collected a large number of artifacts both old and ancient

Figure 15 – The family room

Figure 16 – Some more artifacts

Figure 17 – The range is mind boggling

Figure 18 –Jai having a wonderful time

Figure 19 – Other caves

Figure 20 – Some more caves

Figure 21 – Snow clad mountains at the back

Finally We reached Granada

The dive to Granada is simply beautiful. It is an extremely pretty city. Granada means ‘Pomegranate’. One can watch the best of the Mediterranean. The drive takes you through the rugged Moor Pass and through snow peaked hill ranges.

Reconquest ended with fall of Granada on 02 Jan 1492.Thereafter half a million Moors left for Africa.

Granada is home to 300,000 foreign students. Happy hour starts at 9PM and free food is served with beer – a Granada tradition.  
The city boasts of excellent houses, bungalows, parks, roundabouts, statues etc.

History records - Spain, now without any major internal territorial conflict, embarked on a great phase of exploration and colonization around the globe. In the same year the sailing expedition of Christoper Columbus resulted in what is usually claimed to be the first European sighting of the New World. The resources of the Americans enriched the crown and the country, allowing Isebella I and Ferdinand II to consolidate their rule as Catholic Monarchs of the United Kingdom. Subsequent conquests, and the Spanish colonization of Americas by the maritime expeditions they commissioned, created the vast Spanish Empire: for a time the largest in the world.

Queen Isabella was a very superstitious person. She is reported to have worn the same dress till Christopher Columbus returned to Granada. The city has honored both by erecting a statue in the city square. The greatest artistic wealth of Granada is its Spanish-Muslim art — in particular, the compound of the Alhambra and the Genaralife. The Generalife is a pleasure palace with attached romantic gardens, remarkable both for its location and layout, as well as for the diversity of its flowers,plants and fountains.
Muley Hussain was the last Moor king of Granada

Figure 22 – Sky line of the Granada

Figure 23 – The main thorough fare

Figure 24 – Orange trees on the road side

Figure 25 – Once again fascinating balconies

Figure 26 – Plaza Del Triunfo garden. Very close to the hotel ‘Macia Condor Granada’ where we stayed

Figure 27 – Prem and Nair on the prowl in Plaza Del Triunfo Garden

Figure 28 – An interesting statue in Plaza Del Triunfo

Figure 29 – Main road

Figure 30 – I was really fascinated by the lamp shade – great municipality

Figure 31 - Plaza Isabel La Catolica, Granada's central square. Columbus presenting himself to Queen Isabelal.

Figure 32 - Plaza Isabel La Catolica, Granada's central square

Figure 33 – Lalitamma doing one better than Armstrong

A very fine statue

Art shop

Another part of the city
Jai Sudhi and Beena relishing Granada


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