Our last day! We got up early and went to the bus station since that is the best way to travel between Malaga and Granada. I was a little apprehensive, since I know the American bus system is not really much to brag about. Not so for the Spanish. The bus was very clean, comfortable, and well air conditioned. The tickets were also pretty inexpensive. No complaints at all! After about a two hour ride, we made it to Granada.
The whole reason for us going to Granada was to visit the Alhambra, the last palace of the Arab leaders before they were run out of Spain in 1492. When I was getting my Master's degree, I wrote a paper on the painted ceilings in the Hall of the Kings, and it was really difficult to find good images of them. I was really excited to get to see them in person and perhaps take some good pictures of them to pass on to my former art history professor.
When we arrived in Granada, we headed straight for this little tourist desk in the middle of the bus station. We asked the girl there how to get to the Alhambra. She asked, "Do you already have tickets?" Um, no. "Then you have a lot of work to do today! Here is the website (she handed us a little brochure with a map), and there is an internet cafe. You have to check and see if they still have tickets available for today. Probably not. I think it's better if you stay the night here in Granada and try to go tomorrow. Today you can ride the tourist bus and see the monuments of Granada." Panic immediately set in. What?!? We had to buy tickets in advance?!? We can't stay until tomorrow! We have to get on a plane to Texas tomorrow! This is our LAST CHANCE!
We went into the internet cafe and paid for 10 minutes (50 euro cents). I went to the website on the brochure, and sure enough, it said they were sold out for that day. We were sitting there, disappointment beginning to overwhelm us, when the guy next to us said, "You don't need advance tickets. I was there yesterday. You just walk up and they let you in. You should go try to get in." That's really all the encouragement we needed, so we took a cab up there. It was an expensive ride. If you go to Granada, I recommend you take the city bus to get around. It's way more economical.
There was a bit of a line, but I was encouraged that there WAS a line. It's not like they were turning people away. There was a little sign that said you could only gain admittance to the Nasrid palace (that's the oldest part) at the time written on your ticket. As we got closer to the front of the line, I saw a sign that said "Cash only" and began to panic again. We had just blown half our cash on the cab fare up here, and there weren't any ATMs in sight. Luckily, the combined cost of tickets was 24 euros, and y'all, we had 25 euros!!! Phew! Plus, I discovered later that there totally was an ATM nearby, it was just in the advance ticket retrieval office, so we would have been fine. I was so excited about getting in that every tiny obstacle seemed like a huge hurdle I had to overcome.
So, tickets bought, they let us in! We were on our way! Here I come, Hall of the Kings! We showed up at the Nasrid palace when we were supposed to and began to make our way there. We passed through all the famous rooms - the Mexuar palace, the Hall of the Ambassadors, the Courtyard of the Myrtles. I started to go crazy with the camera taking pictures of all the beautiful details on the walls when I noticed the "Low Battery" light coming on. Nooooooo! Luckily, we had brought a backup camera. I asked Jonathan about it, and he said, "We left the other camera back at the hotel." What?!? Why didn't I think to bring it? Panic, panic, panic. So, I kind of stopped taking pictures so that I would be sure to be able to get a photo of my ceiling paintings.
We finally got to the Courtyard of the Lions - probably the most photographed part of the palace - only to discover that the famous lion fountain AND my paintings were under restoration and were NOT ON DISPLAY. AAAAAAAAAAAH! I cried. Jonathan was so sweet to me, too. He was like, "Well, next time we come..." And this was his second time to visit the Alhambra. I said, "You don't want to come again! You're just being nice!" But he kept saying stuff like, "When we come back, we'll do this part first..." and "After we buy our apartment in Spain, you can come here with your friends..." It really did make me feel better. After all, it was 12 years in between visits for him. There's hope for me to see it again. Maybe by then they'll be done with the restoration. Ha!
Here's a picture of the pavilion where the paintings usually are. As you can see, it's covered in scaffolding and there are all kinds of ropes and big pieces of plywood denying you access. Boooooooo! Although I will say, I'm glad they are being restored. I do want them to be preserved for future generations. I just wish it hadn't been on my time, you know?
Eventually, I sucked it up and decided to enjoy the rest of the day despite my crushing disappointment. After living in Paris, I knew that this just happens sometimes. You travel all the way across an ocean to see something, and then the museum workers decide to strike on the day you want to see the Mona Lisa or whatever. Denied. Or you can't go to the top of the Eiffel Tower because it's too windy. Seriously.
Happily, there's plenty to see at the Alhambra besides that fountain and those paintings, and we had a really fun rest of the day together, walking around and laughing. A great way to tie up our vacation! Now, where are we going next?