|I've wanted to visit Granada and the Alhambra for many a year and finally despite the best efforts of RENFE (Spanish railways) to stop me I've finally made it. Granada was grim when I got here, persistant light rain, dark skies and empty streets. Like many a normally sunny place the bright sparks in city planing have laid tile pavements everywhere and I was doing a very good impression of Bambi all afternoon. I didn't want to go up to the Alhambra until my full day here but I did expect to see it from the town, all signposts pointed in the opposite direction than my map showed but I could see no sign of it anywhere. I found a tourist office with times and prices for all major attractions (€48 to see them all!), booking ahead was recomended for the Alhambra as only 6000 people per day are allowed in so I asked if they could book my ticket. The nice lady told me that there was no need on a Sunday, the ticket office opened at 8am with 2000 tickets for sale, no queues no problems.
After my early evening siesta I went back into town and it was absolutely heaving, the Spanish do take their siestas and late evenings seriously. I could hardly walk down the street for people and thought I wouldn't get to the supermarket I was heading for before it closed, I made it in time but it was heaving too. I set my alarm for 7am and had a relatively early night, 1am (I'm reading a good book). Before I went to sleep I started thinking that I was going to be really disappointed with the Alhambra after waiting so long.
When I hiked up the hill to the ticket office in the morning the queue was enormous, I and lots of tour groups were going in, I wasn't going to get in, the queue didn't move. I guess I was the one who hit my snooze buton 5 times. When the queue did start to move it was the slowest I've ever encountered, comments about them handwriting the tickets etc were being made. My other dificulty was that while most people were in groups and holding there place while some went for coffees or seats I was stuck there. It took over an hour but I finally made it to the front. The main part of the visit is the Nizral(?) Palaces for which you get an allocated time on your ticket, I was now convinced that I would get 2 or 3pm when I was hoping to be back in town watching the match. My time was 10am which meant that effectively I had to head straight there as they are at the opposite side of the site.
I couldn't have been less disappointed, the palaces are amazing, fantastic, beautiful, I'd put them in the same bracket as the Taj Mahal. I spent about 2 hours in there and the estimated time for a complete visit to the site was 3 hours according to the ticket. After the palaces there is still a huge complex to see including the fortified part, the gardens, church, bathhouse and Medina. I was knackered by the time I got back to my hotel but very pleased that I'd made the effort to get there, I fell asleep and missed the football.