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2017-12-12

Alhambra Part 1; Storming the Cliff

We’re not a family of early risers.

Let me change that; Little Master is:

He loves practising his burgeoning vocabulary of grunts, plosives and sirens in tandem with the sun’s daily ascension, whilst also working on his little back-fist, elbow, kicking and kneeing techniques, using Daddy as his training partner.

(though Daddy is usually training his sleep at that point, so it’s a painfully one-sided affair)

Nonetheless, the rest of us aren’t fans of the early starts.

So, imagine the abject horror visited upon my wife and I’s countenances when we discovered that our lack of foresight and planning had left us with but one option to see Granada’s world-famous Alhambra; an 8am tour.

Yes, folks; if you don’t pre-book a whiles ahead, you may find you can’t visit. Due to the limited number of people allowed in the complex on any given day, there are very limited “rock up on the day” tickets, and we did witness, first-hand, some very irate travellers being denied entry.

(and “We’ve come all the way from Kansas for this!” doesn’t budge a Spanish ticket inspector)

Thus it was, with a grave feeling in our hearts, we set the alarm – for the first time in…..months – to get us up at 6am.

(given that we’d just about gotten the kids to bed at 11pm – and ourselves more than a couple of hours later – this was a real kick in the nuts)

But, we were assured, The Alhambra was one of the marvels of the world, and well worth it.

We were also assured, it was a twenty-five minute walk from our apartment.

Well, 6am came, the alarm went off, as did my heart, then, gasping for air and confused as the day I was born (and crying like it too) I got out of bed.

Amazingly, we managed to get ourselves showered, the kids up and dressed, breakfasted and ready to leave by 7:20am; early bonus prize to us!

(though it was a false start, as I’d accidentally left without putting my shoes on; “Damn you, 6am start!”)

Locked and loaded with two children.

The sun had barely risen and, in the narrow streets of Granada, it hadn’t yet found the pavement by our apartment. The result? Cold. Near freezing cold.

Which would have been fine…had we not been in shorts, vests, summer dresses and, in My Tesoro’s case, sandals.

Little Miss, compliant in getting ready, was now, vastly, unimpressed. And she let us know.

Little Master was back in the carrier, happily swaying in the warmth of my body and, despite it still being held together by a brace of drill-heads, Little Miss was in the buggy because, she explained with great eloquence, it was too cold to walk.

I tried to explain the benefits, therefore, of movement in warming her up. But, again, she was vastly unimpressed.

We didn’t have time to argue; if we didn’t make the 8am tour meeting we might not get in. We had to haul ass.

But, thankfully, it was, apparently, only a twenty-five minute walk…

The start of THE climb…

Well, it turns out that we made one near-fatal error in calculation. Namely, the Alhambra, visible from all around the city due to it’s imposing location, elevated to a great altitude on top of a virtual cliff-like hill, would, clearly, be reached by foot in an upward direction.

And, in keeping with it’s medieval heritage, the streets leading to it would be cobbled. And with steps.

So, with the cunning bribery of a lollipop for breakfast, we got Little Miss to dismount and we carried the buggy (complete with litres and litres of water) up the steps. And then some more steps. And then a few more, for good measure.

The view from the top after a LOT of steps! Yep, we climbed from down there 🙁

At least we weren’t cold anymore.

To be fair to Little Miss, she lept up the steps like a diminutive shiny-haired sugar-powered monkey.

After ascending the last steps, wheezing, dripping but victorious, we were already late for the 8am start, so My Tesoro forged ahead post-haste to secure our spots, whilst I trundled along, uphill, with Little Master and Little Miss, firmly ensconced back in the buggy, glad at least to have smooth tarmac under foot and wheel.

I found My Tesoro roving about still in search of the tour guide and, perhaps more crucially, a cafe. We may have been late, but there was still the priority of a pain-au-chocolat to obtain for Little Miss, along with some warm milk, an English breakfast tea for me, and then a, in hindsight, not-so-surprising second trip back to the cafe for another pain-au-chocolat for me, who was suffering most abominably, after fixing eyes on Little Miss’s chocolate-filled pastry, with non-buyer’s remorse.

Thankfully, as always, My Tesoro sorted out all our bellies. I pulled my weight by sorting out the finding of our guide, who, as convenience would have it, was outside the cafe with a group of about 30, all ready to go once the last few stragglers had associated themselves with the group.

(can you guess who those stragglers were? Yeah baby, that’s how we roll! 😉 )

Our guide dolled out a headphone and radio set for me.

“Can I have another please?” I asked

She scowled slightly.

“For my wife.” I added.

Slightly grudgingly, she passed the headset and radio and turned back to the group.

“Excuse me,” I began.

She turned with the look of someone less than pleased.

“Can I have another please?” I asked.

She scowled, less lightly.

“For my daughter.” I added, motioning to Little Miss, who was out-scowling the guide.

Very grudgingly, she passed me another headset and radio then, turning to the group, said:

“Please, everyone turn on your radios, get your tickets out and follow me.”

And off we marched, towards the ticket entrance, just as My Tesoro arrived with my pain-au-chocolat.

It might have been a lot later than our allotted time, but we were all there; tickets in hand, radio headsets on ears and guide in front, ready to explore the world-famous Alhambra.

And the sun was out too 🙂


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