DAY 10, JUNE 3: ALHAMBRA – A PERFECT SETTING FOR A PERFECT BIRTHDAY

From Granada, Andalusia, Spain

DAY 10, JUNE 3: ALHAMBRA – A PERFECT SETTING FOR A PERFECT BIRTHDAY

A perfect ending for a perfect birthday: “It started with (flamenco) music, and it ended with (street) music”

Happy Birthday balloons

My birthday this year started at midnight on June 2-3, right after that amazing Gypsy flamenco show. As Elizabeth and I were walking to back to our apartment through the nearly deserted streets of Granada, she was the first to wish me a happy birthday. It was 12:01 AM, June 3, 2017.

After a good night’s sleep, we climbed up the Alhambra twice. First, in the morning, to stroll through and enjoy its beautiful gardens. And then again in the evening, for a special visit to the magnificent Nasrid Palace.

MAGICAL BIRTHDAY AT THE ALHAMBRA, Part 1

The first half of my birthday has been sheer perfection. Elizabeth and I just returned from a magical walk through the gardens of the Alhambra. Tonight we go back for a visit to the Nasrid Palace. Here are some pictures from our noontime walk.

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A group of local artists were also spending the morning on the Alhambra grounds, painting some of the scenes which we also photographed. Elizabeth was shy at first as usual, but eventually got up the nerve to talk to one of the artists.

MEDITATING AT THE ALHAMBRA REVEALS THE ORIGIN OF ITS ARABIC NAME: THE “RED CASTLE”

When Elizabeth and I first set foot at the Alhambra o June 2, I also meditated on its grounds and inside the church of St Mary”s, next to the Carlos V Renaissance Palace. I said to Elizabeth afterwards, “all I was getting is the color red, like brick red laced with thin black lines.” Lo and behold, this is what I have just discovered: 

Alhambra” is a Spanish rendering of the Arabic words “qa’lat al-Hamra”, meaning “red castle”. The significance of the “red” part is easy to see, as it comes from the dusty red stone that was used to build the thick walls around the castle.” (from http://www.exploring-castles.com/europe/spain/alhambra_granada/).

So the ancient Arab spirits from the 13th or 14th century were communicating with me through the colors during my meditation. And they also helped me subconsciously choose this peach-reddish shirt to wear during the most important visit on my birthday – June 3
Pretty fascinating, wouldn’t you say, how our spirit guides work? And how they help us stitch together and interpret their guidance afterward. So that each experience becomes a lesson. Thank you, my dear spirit guides. I just love your subtlety and sophistication. 

MAGICAL BIRTHDAY AFTER THE ALHAMBRA, Part 2

“Birthday Cake” at a Granada creperie

After we came down from our noontime walk through the Alhambra gardens, we stopped at a creperie in Plaza Nueva, the city center.

This is where I had my “birthday cake.” Which, this year, turned out to be my favorite dessert of all time – a crepe filled with Nutella with a scoop of Tiramisu ice cream on top. And I washed it down with a Wildberry smoothie. YUM! 🙂

This was the third day in a row that I have had a crepe like that “for lunch” at the same little store. The staff are already getting to know me. I don’t even have to tell them what I want anymore. 🙂

MAGICAL BIRTHDAY AT THE ALHAMBRA, Part 3

RETURN TO THE ALHAMBRA: VISIT TO THE NAZARIES PALACE

The Sultan and the Sultana

This evening, Elizabeth and I returned to the Alhambra for our most exclusive visit – the Nazieres Palace. If the Alhambra is “a perl set in an emerald,” as the Arab poets sang some 800 years ago, then the Nazaries Palace is the diamond inside the pearl.

First, we spent an hour or so clambering up and down the Alhambra towers and medieval walls. This is what we saw… starting with some panorama shots.

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Breathtaking beauty. That just about sums it up. And that was just a warm up. When we finally were able to get inside the Nasrid Palace, our jaws dropped in amazement. Take a look…

This first photo, in which Elizabeth and I are seated inside the Nazaries Palace, we have modestly captioned: The Sultan and the Sultana. 🙂

Yet… for all its beauty and splendor, Elizabeth and I both agreed the Nasrid Palace comes second to the magnificent Mezquita in Cordoba (see CORDOBA, HEART OF ANDALUSIA, WON OVER OUR HEARTS, TOO – http://wp.me/p3R16m-Y7). Maybe it’s because we saw it first as an example of ancient Arab art (in May 2014).

Mezquita is, of course, much smaller than the Alhambra. And we are only comparing the Nazaries Palace to it, not the whole Alhambra

On a grand scale of things, when you take into account the grounds, the gardens, the fortresses and the parklike setting around it, the Alhambra would have to rank as the number 1 – the most beautiful Moorish structure in Spain.

The Alhambra is a reflection of the culture of the last centuries of the Moorish rule of Al Andalus (Arabic term for Iberia). Their territory was reduced to the Nasrid Emirate of Granada. It is a place where artists and intellectuals had taken refuge as the Reconquista by Spanish Christians won victories over the Muslim rulers elsewhere in Spain.

The pictures I am sharing with you cannot do it justice. But they will have to do. Because access to the palace is restricted only to the ticket holders. And the getting the tickets is like winning a lottery. That’s how lucky we were to have gotten them without prior reservations.

Even Claude Debussy, the famous French composer of the late 19th century found inspiration in Alhambra for his preludes – Gate of Wine. I was not aware of it until I took this picture and later researched why this sign was there.

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nazaries-banner

GRAND FINALE OF A MAGICAL BIRTHDAY

A perfect ending for a perfect birthday: “It started with (flamenco) music, and it ended with (street) music”

Half way through the day, I said to Elizabeth I felt I was having a perfect birthday. Now that it’s almost midnight, I can say I HAD a perfect birthday.

After that amazing visit to the Nazaries Palace at the Alhambra, Elizabeth and I went to a restaurant at the Plaza Nueva (the city center of Granada) that I had picked out for my birthday dinner. It’s name is La Cueva (the cave).

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“So for two nights in a row we are finishing our day in a cave,” I joked. (You can see me eating a soup there to start the dinner).

Last night, we attended a wonderful flamenco performance at the Gypsy part of Granada which actually took place in a cave. And since the show ended just before midnight, I figured the Gypsies and the flamenco kicked off our birthday celebrations.

SATURDAY NIGHT LOCAL STREET PARTY

Before we headed out to the Alhambra this evening, something moved me to walk up the hill to the Albaycin town center, a cute little square with a church at its north end.

As soon as we saw it on our first morning here, I said to Elizabeth, “this reminds me so much of Hemingway’s novels about the Spain and the life in small towns. And the movies which were made based on his novels.

When I got to the square, I saw a crew setting up a stage under the church at the north end of the little square. I asked them what that was about.

“It will be good music. You should come,” one of the workers told me in broken English.

When Elizabeth and I arrived a little after 10PM, the street party was already under way. We joined in singling and dancing with the crowd in the square.

It was a perfect ending for a perfect birthday.”It started with (flamenco) music, and it ended with (street) music,”

I said to Elizabeth as we were walking back to our apartment. We were both exhausted, but happy.

SATURDAY NIGHT STREET PARTY IN ALBAYCIN, GRANADA – a video clip by Bob Altar Djurdjevic – June 3, 2017

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One Reply to “DAY 10, JUNE 3: ALHAMBRA – A PERFECT SETTING FOR A PERFECT BIRTHDAY”

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