Granada was the entire reason we went to Spain. I'd wanted to see it since I'd first heard about its history when I was 14 years old. For some reason the whole Nazrid era and Al-Andalus, Moorish art and architecture, knowing that the renaissance began with the education and libraries of these early Muslim kingdoms -- pomegranates, oranges, the Court of the Lions, scalloped arches, geometric designs in stone -- it all seemed to center in Granada. And the Alhambra.
We arrived after a long road-tripping day from Seville through the white hill towns of the Sierra Nevada. After dropping our little car at the little central train station and walking thirty minutes down the Calle Gran Via de Colon, we reached the base of the hill where the Alhambra complex perched above us behind the cliffs. We checked into our room at the very excellent and excellently located* Hotel Casa de Capitel Nazari, where we were extremely excited about the large Jacuzzi bathtub (remember, baths were scarce in Denmark, so we were always overjoyed when we traveled and lucked out with a tub). We even took a picture, we were so stoked:
The Hotel Casa de Capitel Nazari also was just simply beautiful. It was a connected hodgepodge of Spanish renaissance palaces - each with their own ubiquitous central open atria and the rooms' windows facing inward with their very Andalusian solid wood shutters. Our room actually felt more like a suite - strangely shaped with step ups and downs into different, small mini-rooms: a little entryway, a bed platform, a reading nook, a dressing area with an antique wardrobe.
But we're never ones to lounge around in our hotel - however historic and bathtubby it may be. Our first night was spent doing our usual Rick Steves' audio city tour to give us more history and our bearings.
We started out at the 10th century stable/market where all the camel caravans congregated, through the Nazrin-era bazaar (now upscale jewelry/gold markets), visited the tombs of Ferdinand and Isabella at the Cathedral, took a break to get a *real* churro with chocolate at the Plaza Bib-Rambla, and ended up wandering through the narrow streets of the Al-Andalusian Albaizin district, which felt like we had somehow made it back to Istanbul or, more correctly, that a bit of Morocco had made it up into this most southern part of Spain.
We didn't take many pictures of that first night in Granada - only three off-the-cuff snapshots done more out of habit - probably because we were so enthralled with the constant intersections we kept meeting between high Christian, deeply Islamic, and historic Jewish residents all living together, depending on the era, with remarkable cooperation or considerable hatred.
But really, if the reason we came to Spain was to get to Granada, the reason we came to Granada was to see the Alhambra. And we weren't going to get there until the next day.