This blog will be the shortest on text and longest on pictures of our trip. I haven’t got much to say about the Alhambra, other than that I regret reaching my 50s without having been on a proper visit to what is perhaps the greatest historical monument in Europe. Its beauty alone would make it a deeply moving place but it has a particularly poignant resonance in today’s world as a reminder of how Islam is in the DNA of modern Europe.
It was a lot less crowded back in the day when I did not have to think how long young boys’ interests in the achievements of Moorish Spain could be sustained: about two hours is the answer to that if you are prepared to ride out some minor meltdowns and do some Knights v Moors role-play.
In the lovely gardens of the summer palace. It was quite hot in the sun in February, cannot begin to imagine how sweltering this place must be in high summer.
These pictures make the place look deserted but it was actually pretty crowded and some of the bottlenecks were slightly wearing. Not quite shuffling through the Sistine Chapel in Rome, but getting towards it.
So top tips if visiting would be to make sure you book your tickets well in advance, come as early (or perhaps as late) as possible and try and find a good guide to take you to quieter corners and add value to the experience.
As I was saying about minor meltdowns. This wasn’t the result of boredom. It was provoked by a Chinese tourist who stepped inside the ropes around some cannons to stroke a black cat sitting on one of them and have their picture taken. Nothing really wrong with that — my local guide told me they let kids climb on the cannons until recently. But I felt I had to insist that we were not the sort of people who ignore ropes, and James, above, thought that was just not fair. A pear cheered him up however.
Roped off these days: back in 1990 a friend of mine came on a lads tour and took souvenir snaps right in front of the lions, in various sandals-and-socks combinations.
I’ve included these last three pictures because these carvings have a Habsburg connection, as do my boys, via a cousin. I need to do a bit more reading before I write the captions.