Nom de Plumage

April 7, 2013

La Alhambra – Dreams Do Come True

Filed under: Travel Journal — nomdeplumage @ 8:31 pm
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When I was making a list of my ‘must-see’ destinations for my journey, the Alhambra was at the very top. Not Paris, nor New York or even Rome, but the Moorish legend of Granada. If there is a place that represents heaven on earth, then I have found it. But let me rewind the clock a little and start from the beginning of my day……

When I decided to make Cordoba my base for my journey around southern Spain, the Alhambra was my focal point. But it was not until I went to buy a ticket to Granada, that I realised that actually getting there by train was not going to be easy. You see, there is only one train from Cordoba to Granada and one back. It means that time is of the essence and that I cannot afford the luxury of spending a lot of time in Granada, for fear of sleeping on park benches should I miss my return train. At 11:10 am, an old two car carriage train left for the two-hour journey through some of the most mythical scenery.

The first hour of my journey, I could not help but be absorbed with the incredible feats of heroism and adventure, courtesy of Jake Gyllenhaal in the blockbuster ‘Prince of Persia’ (in Spanish) on the small TV screen. It did not take me long to give Jake the flick when the scenery changed. Barren rolling hills started to turn green and lush meadows with snow-capped mountains in the distance emerged. I could be in no doubt that I had arrived in Granada.

But things changed quickly once train stops at the station. I disembark and go look for directions or help, and find no one. I exit the station and walk the short distance to the main street and a feeling of discomfort overcomes me. The streets are dirty, the people appear ragged and drunks lie in the street and I walk blindly in the vain hope that I can get some direction. As I walk along the main street, the scenery and people change and my first impressions give way to a city that is beautiful with wide boulevards, landscaped parks and great shops. But I found the people are very distant and I could not warm to them. I find a tourist shop with a woman who kindly directs me to the bus stop and bus number I need to get to my destination. There is a route (loop) and buses leave at regular intervals. The price is reasonable and the journey takes you high above the city, navigating through very narrow busy streets, to the entrance gates of the Alhambra.

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How can I ever do justice and describe the magic of the place or convey the feelings that overwhelmed me? Impossible! How can I describe heaven or make you believe that something greater was at work here today? I could not have wished for a more perfect setting, with the perfect weather set in the perfect scenery. Winter did not exist here. The brilliant blue sky was almost cloudless and the sun’s warmth penetrated the layers of my winter clothing. In the distance, circumnavigating the area, are mountains with snow on top and below in the valley, are towns with white stone walls.

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I count my blessing as I walk around the complex, that it is not peak tourist season and I do not have to contend with noisy crowds and wait in long queues. What reverberates endlessly, is the gentle trickle of water that flows within the many water features throughout the compound. What enfold’s me and holds me in a dream, is harmony and tranquility that I have not felt in any other place before.

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What if I ask you to conjure up an image of wealth and power? Would you picture the gold gilding and elaborate furnishings of Versailles or the stunning frescos and religious relics at the Vatican perhaps?

What image comes to mind when you think beauty or elegance? Maybe there is too many things to choose from?

Until the moment I walked into the Alhambra, I did not believe that a place existed that embellished all theses things and more. Wealth is not only about gold or expensive artefacts, but about knowledge, wisdom and history. Power is not only to gain control over the weak and rule, but to endure the ravages of time, bring unity, peace and comfort to those in need. Beauty at most times is fickle and superfluous, but there is beauty  unmatched in the intricacy of detail, perfection in design or the uniqueness of overall impression. For me, elegance means simplicity and perfection of every detail. It is not always about the grandeur and the excessive amounts of artefacts because when you come here, you will see neither of theses things. In fact, the Alhambra needs none of these because it is without the superlative furnishings etc, that perfection is not overshadowed by affluence.

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The sun is setting and my time here is all but over. I must catch the bus back into town and then my train to Cordoba. I leave reluctantly and know that for with, nothing will ever match the beauty and tranquility that I have seen and experienced here.

To anyone who has had the privilege of visiting the Alhambra, or to anyone who wishes to go, there is one thing that I can guarantee that will happen to you – you will never be the same.





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