After a very successful concert in the Teatro de Rojas in Toledo, we departed for Granada, Spain. The name of the city was nostalgic for me, because my family had a Ford Granada back in the seventies which served us well. We had a four hour drive to Granada ahead of us.
In Spain, the coach bus travel is very well regulated by the government. Buses may not travel more than two hours without a break. Imagine this: All buses in Spain have seat belts. We in the US are still trying to get seat belts on school busses.
The ride to Granada was very exciting from a literary standpoint. We drove through the land of Don Quixote, which was created by Cervantes. We actually saw los molinos (windmills) referred to in the well-known story. Many may remember the broadway show, The Man of La Mancha, created from this story. We drove through the land of La Mancha!
The ride to Granada also featured thousands of olive trees along the countryside. Spain is the largest producer of olive trees in the world! Much of the world’s olive oil is produced in Spain. Much of the food of Spain is diced in olive oil. They believe that everything is better and healthier with olive oil. We have certainly had our fill of olive oil on this trip!
Upon arrival to Granada, we immediately checked into the hotel – Los Angeles. We believed that perhaps the name of the hotel was meant to attract Americans; however, our Los Angeles really is a Spanish word that means the angels, which is to give the Spaniards a feeling of comfort, especially Christians.
One of the benefits for traveling to Granada, the second most important city in Andalusia, was to see the most important Islamic structure of the Alhambra and General-life, the number one most visited site in all of Spain. After arriving to the hotel, about seven of us took a strenuous walking tour of the city where we saw Granada’s cathedral, Royal Chapel, and impressive view of Granada called the Albazina.
We then went to Alhambra. This complex of buildings was first built in the ninth century as a citadel called Alzacabal. Adjacent to the Citadel is a part of the Alhambra called General-life where the Nasrid kings had their residences and all the staff. Imagine everyone associated with palace living at the palace as well. This was a great position to have during this time (akin to being a federal worker). The tour of the Alhambra took over two hours, with several groups of walking tours staggered every ten minutes. If you were late to your assigned tour, you lost your position and funds for the tour.
After the tour, the choir had a late meal scheduled to begin as late as 9:30 PM. On the way to the restaurant, due to much activity in the city: Commencement from the local university, scores of weddings scheduled, and a special procession of the Virgin for the anguish, we had to depart from our bus due to street closures due to the procession and walk four blocks to the restaurant of our group meal. After a great meal, we had then walked to our hotel, another four blocks due to additional road closures.
After another full day, everyone crashed from a full day of touring!