My cold wreaked a bit of nasal havoc overnight so I was reluctant to break the sleep spell this morning. Of course, Jason is never any help in that department so we all had a lie in! Once up and at 'em, we had a quick snack then made for the Alhambra. We approached it from the top via the carparks, so felt a bit different to when I was there with Bel. After getting our tickets we went straight down to the oldest part at the bottom. It was funny how similar the experience in it's entirety was to that with Bel. Both visits the leaves are turning for autumn, the sky is clear and blue. It was a bit cooler today but still lovely and all the colors were vibrant. The girls enjoyed climbing the Walls with Jason, and I enjoyed gazing down over the whitewashed Albaizin.
We had timed tickets for the Palace of Nazries so lined up for that. I thought the biggest change since last visit was how much more regimented everything was. There were various checkpoints all over that you had to have your ticket scanned at, you were only allowed entry to each area once, more areas were more heavily restored but you could visit fewer. It took almost our entire allocated time just to get to the palace entrance in the queue! Oh well.
Inside it was as impressive as ever. I shouldn't underestimate it just because I have seen it before - it is a truly remarkable place. A world favorite for me. such a wonderful mix of east and west. I love the moorish colors, tiles and intricate carving so fine in places it reminds me of lace. No audio guide this time!
The Generalife was beautiful. It's a mark of the temperate climate that the gardens are still flowering in November! I waited with Meg and Felix while Jason and em explored the top palace - too many stairs for the pusher. Felix enjoyed crawling across the dusty courtyards and up the stairs to find a low fountain which he splashed in. Much fun. Emily came back having filled the memory of my iPhone with her candid snaps!
The girls were both requesting a rest so after fuelling up at the cafe, we got in the car and drove up into the Sierra Nevada to visit Las Alpujarras, or White towns. Emily alternated watching dvd's with working on her Tinkerbell research book. She has done loads of colourful drawings all about the great fairy rescue movie - it's fabulous. I'll have to keep it for her when she's older.
After driving out on the highway for a while, we turned off and started winding up into the mountains. The views are so dramatic. Rocky, arid mountains, the vegetation sparse and low growing. The type of plants that make you feel hot just looking at them. Silvery grey and gnarled olive trees, beachy shrubs, everything either greyish green or ochre to blend with the rocks. We entered the national park and drove through the first two towns, larger and more populated. Then the road goes from around 700m to 1200m altitude reasonably quickly around sharp bends that afford glimpses of steep valleys across to distant snow capped peaks or upwards to the three White towns this area is famous for. Stark in color, warm in feel, the simple buildings huddle together in three groups ascending the steep valley on a diagonal. I was reminded of catching the bus up here with Bel and walking from the lowest village to the upmost one.
Having looked in LP for recommendations we went up to the third village of Capileira to find an Arabic/Indian fusion restaurant for an early dinner. We wandered the steep, cobbled streets until we located it, but it didn't open until 7. Back to the drawing board, we moved onto recommendation number two - a Cortijo just out of town. Jason and I bickered over whether the car would survive going more than 5km/hr over the pockmarked drive, then arrived at the suspiciously quiet Cortijo. A man came out and informed us that they were closed but suggested a different restaurant in town. We laboured back down the drive and parked again in the village where, what do you know, THAT restaurant only opened at 8pm! So the Spanish eat late, we get it. By this time it was six thirty so we decided to wait for our original choice. I took the girls into one of the many hippy-type, incense-smelling souvenir shops and we passed the time by buying them a jewellery box each.
Arriving on the restaurants doorstep at 7 exactly, we were looking forward to what LP had enthused about. The restaurant was a small whitewashed (gasp) room with hints at it's Arabic/indian leanings. Embroidered and bejewelled cushions on the seats, glass tabletops covering the business cards and information on every alternative therapy business in the area and photo's on the Walls of various saffron robed yogi's. The lady running it was sweet but covering the roles of owner, waitress and chef. A stretch for anyone. The girls ordered apple juice, and shortly thereafter we could hear the whirring of the magimix working on her concoction. A large jug of apple juice arrived, with pieces of apple skin still visible. The girls were not enthusiastic. The dips were lovely, and the meals tasty but we found the noise of the microwave pinging rather distracting. And following felix around the dining room I noticed packets of chocolate mousse on the sideboard that I wondered if would turn into the advertised 'homemade' version! Hmmm. Slightly let down but satiated, we drove back to camp, looking forward to bed.
Sidenote: When Jason and I were bickering, Meg piped up that we were "talking to each other like children!". True.
Having asked permission and refused a few days ago, Emily piped up this evening from the backseat that "Mum, it doesn't matter", her way of telling me she's done something wrong but doesn't think she should get into trouble. In this case it was "Mum, I've drawn in biro all over my face, but it doesn't matter"!!! So funny! She got quite upset with us laughing at how funny she looked, and even more so when Jason jokes that it wouldn't come off! Nothing a few wet wipes wouldn't fix in the end.