We arrived in Spain in the midst of Semana Santa, or Holy Week, which was quite an experience! I have to admit, it was really a little scary at first. Troops of men in purple and white Ku Klux Klan - esque robes and hats, carrying statues through the streets... My first reaction was to think back to my US History classes from sophomore year and the segregated South, but after a while it wasn't so startling and I could understand more of the magic and mystery of Spanish Catholicism.
For that first evening, we wandered around the old town of Granada before settling in to eat delicious tapas at a local restaurant (and watch a very upsetting Madrid-Barcelona game in which Barcelona lost), and tried to get to sleep at a reasonable hour for all the things we were going to do the next day.
Our second day in Granada we got to see the Alhambra. I had wanted to visit it for years, and so in the afternoon we visited the main gardens and the Generalife before returning at ten-thirty to see the rest. It's as magical as everything you've ever heard, and seeing it at night - the lit-up town below, the intricate stucco on the windows, the golden Arabic poetry climbing to the arched and inlaid ceilings - took my breath away. We wandered through the Boat Room, where each geometrical piece of the arches had been painted different colours, and through the Hall of the Myrtles, where the moon (almost full!) glistened over the long reflecting pool.
If you ever get a chance to go to the Alhambra, even if it's like us and you get the last tickets for ten-thirty at night, go. It's exquisite and one of the most stunning examples of Moorish architecture in the world. Just thinking about the artists who painted the ceilings and made the tiles and painstakingly applied gold leaf to the windows is overwhelming, don't you think?
Have you ever been to the Alhambra? What did you think? If you haven't, would you like to go?