Part 15: Alarcon to Granada Day 1


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The Trip

We stayed in the castle at Alarcon and had a great meal.  Due to the popularity of the location, we were only able to get a room for one night, so we decided to change our booking in the next Parador, Jaen, and switch it for another day in Granada as there was much more to see.  We were told by the front desk at Alarcon that there was a battlement walk at the crest of the castle, all we had to do was request the key.  So, we did and headed up the stairs to see what was there.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

From the battlement, we had an unobstructed view of the surrounding area.  To the north, in the canyon, we could see another mirador that was part of the Alarcon ruins.

We also got a clear view of the second part of the Alarcon reservoir system.  This check dam allows river water to be diverted into a tunnel that heads  south.

The aqueduct tunnel and bridge are visible in the center of the photo above.  Also visible are the first two gates to Alarcon.

We also looked down upon the third gate which was directly below us.

We had a clear view of the upper tower of Alarcon.  Our room is behind the arched window.

The upper tower had grates for the soldiers to stand on that also allowed them to see what was happening directly below them.

These two beams were part of a porch that was outside our window; these look to be "original equipment".

From the battlement, we also got a clear view of the main cathedral in Alarcon.

Taking a closer look at the aqueduct bridge-tunnel we could see the spoil from the tunneling operations dropped along the canyon walls.

We headed out and came to the Alarcon Dam, so we stopped to check it out.  The water level seems to be down quite a bit.

The dam is designed to produce hydroelectric power, but given the lack of water flow, it did not seem to be in production.

We traveled on the road for about 3 hours until we reached our original destination for the day which was the Parador Jaen.  Rather than staying there, we decided to just stop for lunch and a look around and devote several days to Granada.  This is the bar area.

There was a large tapestry on the wall.  Notice that the seats underneath the tapestry are church pews.

This is the dining room with awesome vaulted ceilings and huge chandeliers.  In contrast to the other paradors that we had visited, this food was just "ok" and a bit of a disappointment.

This was a sign at the entrance to the castle.

A little bit of history.  Note that the other, older castles were "salvaged" for material for the current Parador.

One of the towers on the north side of the castle.

A great view of the northern part of Jaen.  Note the high-density housing but open areas beyond.  We surmised this was due to the owners of the olive orchards not being willing to see their land because of the revenue.  So, if the city cannot build out, it will build up.

There was a large cross at the end of the ridge with a 270 degree view of the city of Jaen.

From the cross, we could see into Jaen and spotted this huge structure.  I am not sure what it is, a school or a municipal building perhaps.

We could also see the main cathedral in Jaen.  This is a very large church.

Also visible was the Jaen bull ring as well as other churches.

No trip is complete without seeing an "appropriate" off-road vehicle.  While not a Unimog, this truck does qualify.  This truck is part of the Andalusia fire service.  This truck is 14 ton (metric) capacity, a bit heavier than Thor, but the chassis is also shorter.

The only thing that seemed odd was the really low rear bumper.

We traveled another hour through the rain to get to Granada and were lucky enough to arrive at the height of rush hour.  Finding our hotel was very, very difficult.  Kathleen's GPS took us over some of the city's tall hills through very narrow, winding streets.  At out point, we were confronted with a squeeze between buildings that was 1.8m wide (about 70").  Our car was 1.807 meters wide and the only things that saved us from damage were skillful driving, careful spotting by Kathleen and retractable mirrors.  That squeeze was tight!!  When we finally did find the hotel, it did not have parking, so we circled around town a few times until we found an underground parking plaza.  We then took a cab to get to the hotel which was about a mile away.  A really hard commute overall.

The narrow streets were in the Albaicin district, but ALL the old quarter streets are narrow as can be seen from the map above.

The hotel was right on Plaza Nuevo which is close to the Alhambra (our final destination).  Turned out that there are 1-2 MONTH lead times for tickets, but Kathleen found out that they sell 600 tickets per day on the open market.  But, to get those tickets, you have to personally stand in line at 0800.  She decided to go, I decided to do this web page instead.

We walked to dinner from the hotel.  This is a wide street as it has sidewalks on both sides.

This is a narrower street, but our squeeze was even narrower.

The distant part of this street is reminiscent of bazaars in the Arab world.  Of course, at one point in Grenada's history, it WAS part of the Arab world.

We had dinner at a local tapas bar and I can say with great assurance that all 3 of us are getting quite tired of tapas.  But, despite noise and the crowds, the food was good.

The excursion through the tight streets of Granada was "cruel and unusual" after a long highway drive.  I am glad that I did not scratch the car as I did not get supplemental insurance.

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