La Mancha & Granada
La Mancha & Granada
September 22nd - 24th
After Toledo, our driver Pablo did not have to go back to Madrid; so we
had the bus to ourselves.  We were headed toward Granada.  On the
bus Robert read us excerpts from Cervantes' "Don Quixote", published in
the early 17th century as we were going to go through La Mancha on the
way.  We stopped at Consuegra to visit a windmill.  With morning mist
covering the village down below, it was a scenic stop.  Although windmills
are only 200-300 years old, Consuegra must be Don Quixote's country.   
Then we stopped for a group lunch at Venta del Quixote.  We were so
glad to see "salad" for change.
Late afternoon we arrived in Granada, the last Moorish
capitol.  As soon as we checked into the hotel,  Robert led us
to Capilla Real (Royal Chapel) where we saw tombs of
Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand -- the couple we missed
yesterday in Toledo.  Their grand-son, Philip II had moved
them here from the Alhambra.
Next morning we had a tour of the sublime Alhambra with our local guide, Margarita.  The Alhambra is the
last and greatest Moorish palace of 13th-14th centuries.  We were fortunate to be able to see the
Alhambra's top sight, Palacios Nazaries, because we had our reservation as the Rick Steves' group.  I
looked forward to seeing the Patio de los Leones (Courtyard of the Lions), but it was going through
renovation.  Instead of the nice courtyard you see in the postcard, we saw an exhibit of these lions at the
museum inside Charles V's Palace.  Robert was excited, because he had never got so close to those lions.  
The fountain of 12 lions was a gift from a Jewish leader to the sultan.  It originally served as a clock, with a
different lion spouting water each hour.  How neat!  We finished our tour going through the beautiful
gardens with more water fountains.  Bugs in Consuegra must have dined on my neck, because I had several
swollen spots.  Margarita applied sage leaves from the garden on my neck as Spanish remedy.  I can't tell if
they actually helped..  
In early evening Robert hosted an optional wine and cheese tasting party at the
hotel lobby.  His Ursula watched us in her flamenco dress.  We weren't hungry
after that, so our usual three-some went out for ice cream.  I can't tell which I
enjoyed more, ice cream or the beautiful fountain near El Corte Inglés .
Robert, can you say "Cheese"?
Robert told us to dress nicely for the dinner that night.  We'd
be dining right across from the Alhambra which we'd visit the
next day.  From Plaza Nueva, we took a city minibus to get
up to the San Nicolás Viewpoint.  Wow, what a view in the
twilight!  Right next to the Viewpoint, there was  the
modern-looking mosque, built in 2003. The mosque serves
10 percent of Granada's population today.  We walked
many steps down to our restaurant, Carmen de Las
Tomasas.  While we were having our dinner, the Alhambra
was suddenly illuminated.  What a coincidence!  Last year I
was on the Rick Steves' tour to Greece.  We had our last
night dinner also in a full moon, looking at the Acropolis.  
Although I prefer Greek cuisine, this view was more
spectacular.  We walked through the quiet street of Albayzin
back to our hotel in a full moon.