8th August 2015

Oh yes I’ve
Got a lot of washing to do
A huh huh
Got a lot of washing to do
A huh huh
Whole lot of washing to do
A huh huh . . .

With apologies to Mr E Presley . . . We carry limited clothing – but still the laundry piles up . . .

The Melt
Boarding yet another of rip-off British Southern Rail’s comfortable wagons we rolled up to Gatwick airport to take our Vueling flights to Barcelona and on to Granada, only to find that in our absence the weather in the southern half of Spain has become even more humid.

In fact, we seem to have arrived in Granada at a time of exceptional humidity, perhaps due to the Levant, perhaps due to global warming or even those mysterious ‘chem trails’ that criss-cross the sky above Spain. Either way – it is fugging warm here in a humid but not humorous way.

Granada Spain

On day one there had been a distinct inversion layer that occluded distant visibility, which is a shame as we had walked up through the old Albayzin district to the uppermost viewing points but found only hazy vistas of the surrounding hills of the Alpujarra and the Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra was still visible, and we can see the distant hordes of tourists being herded through its grounds. Mine jew it is a site well worth visiting – we already ‘did it’ several years ago. This time we are happy to wander the city’s back streets, marvel at the tourist crowds in the old areas (such numbers these days my goodness), view and photograph the awesome architecture and bar-hop (‘Tapeo’) through the hundreds of bars – all trying to outdo each other with ‘free’ tapas. The weather cleared a bit the following day, but still maintained high humidity. We are assured “no es tipical”, as normally this is a dry heat area with humidity usually restricted to the coastal area – tell me about it!

Say what you will about Granada – not that there is anything negative to say about it – but its water is mountain-chill cool and beautiful to drink straight from the tap. The Moors chose this city not only for its strategic position but for its endless, plentiful supply of fresh water from the nearby Sierra Nevada. Not too far from the coast, they built this fabulous city stronghold here and its palatial grounds (the famed Alhambra) echoed to the constant trickle, fall and pour of water. A visit to the Alhambra is one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ things to do, and in spite of the tourist hoards (an infestation at this time of the year), it is better to have someone explain it all to you. Or maybe just do a whole lot of research beforehand and then do it solo.

Cathedral - Granada Spain

The truth about the very generous ‘free’ tapas with every (alcoholic) drink is that they incorporate the cost by padding the drinks bill a little. However, it is very little and still very economical compared to Oz/NZ (2 Euros for a good sized beer or wine plus generous sized tapa) and it ensures you are not drinking on an empty stomach. Sometimes you are even asked which tapa you would prefer and the list can be quite extensive. So you can bar hop around town, or simply stay in the same place (the tapas vary with each new drink) and not bother with a meal at all. But we chose one day to resort to ‘the full Monty’ again in the form of an 8 Euro Menu Del Dia – something we have been avoiding of late simply because we cannot eat so much, no matter how reasonable the cost. I started with a Sopa de Ajo (garlic soup) while Rachel had the Gazpacho (we could have had Paella) then we both opted for the dish below (photo), which included chorizo, morcilla (Spanish black pudding) potatas a la pobre (baked sliced potatoes in oil with green peppers – poor man’s potatoes) and an egg. Deeelicious – there were three other available choices. For desert I had a big wedge of cantaloupe and Rachel chose the home-made custard on a biscuit (natillas) – she loves that one (my favourite is home-made ‘flan’). This was accompanied by a full bottle of red wine and a full bottle of Casera (lightly sweetened Gaseosa – like lemonade). Most don’t finish their bottle of red wine but, well, we left a little not to look too out of place (manners Cedric, manners . . . oink oink).

Morcilla Chorizo Granada Spain

Below – ‘free’ tapas

Finally quitting Granada, we took a lengthy but comfortable bus ride through the olive oil basket of Andalucia. Olive trees as far as the eye could see up and down distant dale and hill interspersed with some considerable hectares of grape vines, wheat and sun flowers. The lovely, castled and cathedral-ed hill-top villages we stopped at or passed looked, understandably, quite prosperous and most featured a Bodega. In one village bunches of grapes were spread out in the sun over a vast area on tarpaulins to give them a little final sweetening. There are many co-operatives here. Finally, we entered Cordoba, caught a local bus and found our accommodation. It is a proper, but small, hotel on the corner of a large and busy piazza just outside the olde town and from our comfortable, clean air-conditioned fifth-floor room we see out to the distant countryside. We have already extended our stay here to a fourth night (30 Euros/nt). Our room in Granada (on the 6th floor) at 33 Euros/nt had an unfortunate smell wafting up from the drains and every towel smelled mouldy. These things happen when you are travelling and they can spoil your enjoyment of a place (that did) and in spite of Granada’s obvious charms, given the heat and humidity at the time we just couldn’t be bothered changing to another place in the same town.

Such is the vicarious nature of these travellers.

Oh, and we found ourselves a spotless, coin-operated laundromat here in Cordoba too.

Our conversational Spanish has now improved to such a degree that whenever we pop in for a drink somewhere, with probing we find ourselves learning more and more about each region from the chatty Spaniards – thus it is becoming more rewarding and interesting. We do enjoy our food and drink so, too. Of course, our return to Italy for the final week will present the same old linguistic problems – but it’s all part of the fun, eh.

Am I prattling on . . . . . . . . . . . 😉