Alhambra by night

Lunes, Day 8 - Granada by Night

Armed with our new Beatles tape, we bid a fond farewell to Los Monteros and Marbella and headed north along the coast for Granada. This was our longest drive - about three hours - so the music came in handy. We followed the coast up to Almuñécar, the cut due North through the Sierra Nevada mountains to Granada, home of the world-famous Alhambra. We found our way to our hotel, checked in, and napped for a couple of hours. We then explored a little of Granada on foot, and grabbed a quick dinner of sandwiches at a sandwich chain (once again, we were hungry at 5 pm and most sit-down restaurants didn't open for dinner until at least 8 or 9 pm).

At 9 pm, a shuttle bus in the hotel lobby picked us up to take us to a zambra (gypsy flamenco show) in the Sacromonte (holy hills). Most of the gypsies in Granada used to live in the Sacramonte, which consists mostly of cave dwellings. Severe floods in the early 1960s caused most of the gypsies to relocate to tenements on the outskirts of towns, but a few families keep up the tradition of gouging tourists with gypsy shows. These are family run operations, and the woman who was our escort is the daughter of the guitar player we saw perform. She was not only fluent in Spanish, but also French (her parents had spent several years doing flamenco shows in Paris so that she and her sibling could attend school in France) and enough English to explain her background and show us some sights before the show started. We started off at the Albaicín, where the independent Arab kingdom of Granada had its royal court from the beginning of the 11th Century through the building of the Alhambra some 250 years later. Nowadays, the Albaicín is most notable for its view of the Alhambra, which was breathtaking at night.

The show itself was fun, too. We were two of the last ones in the cave, and were therefore right in back where the dancers, guitar player, and singers were situated. We saw several different dances, with varying combinations of males and females, some with and some without castinets. Whoever wasn't dancing a particular set was sitting near the guitar player singing backup and aiding with the thunderous clapping, which joined with the loud tapping of the dancers' wooden heels on the cave floor was near-deafening. We actually recognized a few of the songs, thanks to the Gipsy Kings.

- Day Nine -