We Who Wander

This is a series of posts about Italy, Malta, and Spain that starts here.

Lynn and I were done with the Acosta Museum by 11:00 am.

“What shall we do now?  Fancy a walk down into the town again?” she suggested.

“Sure.  Maybe we can find that Hop On Hop Off bus thing,” I answered.

The streets of Granada, or at least the scenic sections of it, were way too narrow for the standard red double-decker sightseeing bus.  But some kind of tourist vehicle had passed us the night before. It looked like a toy train.

We also wanted to find the Cathedral, where Isabella and Ferdinand were entombed.  I was binge reading Phillipa Gregory’s books about the Tudors and wanted to learn more about the parents of Henry the Eighth’s first wife, Catherine of Aragon.  She was the only one of his wives who had been born of a king and queen, raised to be a queen, and who put up a good fight when he tried to shed her.

I’ve written about my ability to get lost.  I accept this trait and even welcome the (good) surprises it can produce.  Lynn, however, had silly expectations that we would consult a map, head in the “right” direction, and arrive at our chosen destination without detours.

It’s been said of St. Paul (mostly by people from our twin city, Minneapolis) that the streets were laid out by drunken Irishmen.  To which I counter, “What’s wrong with that?”  It’s so much more interesting than your boring, uptight Scandinavian-influenced grid plan over there across the river.

Granada reminded me of St. Paul, with streets twisting like rivers. There were tiny alleyways only pedestrians could maneuver, and only single file.  Here’s a map of the Albaicin district:

plano-albaicin

Street signage was hit and miss, sometimes at the top of a wall, sometimes in an actual street sign, and sometimes embedded in the sidewalk. There were sometimes pretty icons which were maybe meant to mark streets; this one was about 25 feet up on a wall.

icon

And so we got hopelessly lost, over and over.  I think Lynn felt really frustrated by our incompetence, and probably annoyed by the fact that I was laughing about it.  We saw signs for the “touristic train” but nowhere to buy tickets.  Then we saw the poster for it in the window of a tourism bureau and went in.

“Can we buy tickets here for the tourist train?” asked Lynn.

The travel agent or whatever she was gave us a look.  “It is a trolley, not a train,” she said patronizingly.

Lynn is better with these kinds of situations than I am.  I go straight to sarcasm, but she holds fire, smiles, and gets what she wants.  “Oh I see, thank you, and can we buy tickets here?”

“No!” said the woman, as if it was a ridiculous question. “You must buy them at the ticket stand near the Burger King” and she waved her arm dismissively to the right.

We walked in that direction and, for about the fourth time, passed a tall building with an eagle on top.  We spied the Burger King and finally found the ticket kiosk across the street and half a block away.  Clutching our tickets triumphantly, we turned around and there—through a narrow alleyway—caught a glimpse of the Cathedral.

“We were walking past it all along!” Lynn said, exasperated.  We paid €4 and entered; this was only the crypt with the remains of Isabella and Ferdinand, their daughter Joanna “the Mad” and her husband, Philip “the Handsome”.

We paid another €5 to get into the Cathedral itself, and it was yet another mind boggling gilded monument built with plunder from the colonies.

catedral

We got lost again, and found a pretty pavilion where we sat in the sun and had a late lunch.

We had been walking a lot on cobblestones and cement, and the thought of hiking back up the hill to our hotel was daunting.  Miraculously, Lynn saw a bus approaching, knew it was the right route, and in 10 minutes we were back in our room.  It had been a good day; now to rest up for the Alhambra tomorrow.

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