Gorgeous doors and mosaics abound in Palacio Nazaries within the Alhambra.
Granada is only about a 3 hour drive from Sevilla (together with Cordoba they form a little triangle) so we cruised on over there for a few more days of Mudejar style buildings and tapas.
The most interesting thing to me about the Alcazar in Sevilla, the Mezquita/Catedral in Cordoba and also the Alhambra in Granada is how much the Christian rulers kept of the Moorish style architecture when they rose to power. We saw several rooms inside the Alhambra where Arabic script reading “there is no God besides Allah” still lined the walls…and where Christians held regular masses. Either they didn’t know what was going on or they were just exceptionally tolerant. Regardless, they left beautiful rooms and courtyards like this one intact for visitors like me to see today. How nice of them.
Granada is an interesting city in the sense that the Alhambra is up on a hill (it was a palace/fortress, after all), the “downtown” is one big boulevard and then a zillion windy alleyways down in the trough, and then the more residential neighborhood called the Albaicín is on the other side up on a hill. Got a good hamstring workout walking up there and back a few times. But it was worth it for this sunset view from the Mirador San Nicolas.
What would a trip to Andalucía be without a flamenco show? It was the ultimate tourist attraction, but it was in a cave, which I must admit was pretty cool, and Michelle Obama had been there, so I guess it was permissible.
On the last day of our Spanish journey we enjoyed a three-hour lunch (that’s Italian status) inside the home of an Austrian/Egyptian ethno anthropologist/ part-time ceramicist named Nadia. Her kitchen was full of Moroccan tea cups, tiles she had painted, spices, a complicated couscous cooking contraption and a copy of Jerusalem.
She walked us through the preparation of several classic Spanish dishes with a few Moorish/Middle Eastern spices thrown in for good measure. In the meantime she casually whipped out some baba ghanoush from the fridge for us to nibble on.
First up: salmorejo–like gazpacho but with some stale bread thrown in to thicken it up. Heavy on the onion too. In the background: a hand painted pitcher with some sangria. We ended up drinking it all before her two teenage sons came home from school. They were quite disappointed that there was none left to steal/sip while Mom looked away.
The big event came around 3 PM when Nadia flipped the tortilla española and massaged it in such a way with a spatula as to avoid creating any cracks. When that was all said and done, we had some deliciously onion-y/garlic-ky red peppers to accompany it. And in a weirdly unexpected fashion, she threw together a very California-inspired salad containing crab, avocado (avocado!!!) and corn with this crazy dill/mayo/ginger dressing.
Let me tell you, after a week of croquetas and fried eggplant, this bright plate was a welcome sight.
Overall, three thumbs up on Andalucía. Would highly highly recommend it to the architecture, history, music and food enthusiasts out there. My parents are headed back to the Golden State today…and I’m headed for a weekend in London. More to come.