On  Tuesday we were joined at the Abla aire by Jo and Sam in their 31yr old Mercedes motorhome. As with so many of the motorhomers we met they were a lovely, friendly, sociable couple and we spent quite a while chatting to them. First of all on Bertie and later that evening they invited us for wine and nibbles on their classic van. They were such fun to chat to and such good hosts that we rather over imbided and staggered home to Bertie at midnight! We swapped phone numbers and are keeping in touch. We are travelling in oppostite directions – they are going north and we are still going south – so we probably won’t meet up again this trip. Maybe we will see them in Scotland!

Feeling a little the worse for wear we got up quite late on Wednesday morning and by the time we had had another chat to Jo and Sam and waved them off and then serviced Bertie we were a bit late leaving ourselves. First stop was Mercadona at Guadix to restock with essentials. I had hoped we might have time to visit the cave house musuem at Guadix but in the end neither of us felt like it. As the route today is mainly motorway we decided to go right through to Granada and sort out lunch when we got there.

Granada was a far bigger city than we had realised. Not just much bigger but also much busier. It was quite a shock after so long spent on minor roads and in the back country. Our original plan was to go to a free car park in a small town on the edge of Granada but when we arrived there after negotiating some seriously narrow streets we decided we did not particularly fancy it for the night and moreover we were worried about driving back to the Alhambra in sufficient time to be ready to go into the Nasrid’s Palaces at 10:30 as required by our timed tickets. We had lunch and then decided it would be better to drive back to the official, but expensive, Alhambra car park and stay there tonight so that we are all ready for our big day. It only took us 20 minutes to get there but who knows how long that might have taken around 9am. It costs €31.05 for 24 hours in the official motorhome car park at the Alhambra and there are no services – all you get is somewhere to park. However it is just 500m from the entrance to the complex and this is where we would have to park whilst we visit the palaces anyway.

We took the opportunity that evening to wander down to the entry complex and talk to the guys at the ticket office. I was slightly worried that we only had the tickets on our phones and not printed out. The lady there was really helpful and checked my PDF ticket and our passports and promptly issued our proper tickets for tomorrow. That saved quite a bit of hassle in the morning.

When we got back to Bertie we found that we had parked next to a motorhome of a couple from Lairg whom we had met weeks ago in Simat de la Valldigna! It was good to catch up with them. They had just returned from their visit to the Alhambra and were about start the long drive home as he has an doctor’s appointment in Golspie (in the far north of Scotland across the Moray Firth from Forres) in a few weeks time.

We had a quiet night and were up and about in good time to get down to the palace entrance about 9:30. We have to be in the queue to go in the Nasrid’s Palaces before 10:30 and that is another 600m walk after we get in to the grounds. The whole scale of this place is substantial! I will let me my photos tell the tale.

A wall in one room of the Nasrid’s Palace. This kind of detail is to be found on all the walls in all the rooms. Originally it would have been brightly coloured too.
There were courtyards and fountains and amazing plaster work and tiles throughout the palaces
This huge dome was decorated in amazing detail and would once have been brightly painted too. This one of the best but there a number of others almost as good.
Another courtyard and water feature
The Nasrid Palaces were built by various Sultans of Al-Andalus between the C12 and C14 although they were modified by the Catholic Kings who conquered the area in C15.
This is the patio of the C16 Palace for Charles V but was only completed in C20. It is on a grand renaissance scale and looks rather out of place in this setting although a magnificent building in its own right
After the Nasrid Palaces we visited the Alcazaba fortress in the end of the hill. This was the military heart of the Alhambra and was built by the Moorish Sultans in the C12 and C13.
The view over the older parts of Granada from the large tower at the end of the Alcazaba
we walked back through the Alhambra gardens beside the walls on our way to the Generalife – the Sultans’ pleasure grounds and Summer Palace
The Generalife looks like a large building fro a distance but is actually a series of courtyard gardens with fountains and pools. The Alcazaba and the Alhambra can be seen in the background
Another courtyard within the Generalife.

In all we spent 6 hours in the Alhambra and we visited pretty much all that was open. We were exhausted! I did not log the walk but we reckon in total we walked about 3 miles and countless steps up and down too.

As we got back to Bertie we drove out of the car park having slightly over run our 24 hours and went to a secure parking area next to a garage a few miles away. In theory the garage did LPG (it didn’t) and had services for Bertie (yes but no drinking water!!). The car park was OK and we duly paid our €5 to the nightwatchman. We did not sleep well as the traffic in the main road nearby was a bit intrusive and started again about 4am. Various lorries and buses were starting up ready for a days work and leaving the car park as soon as it opened at 7am. Grrr.

The plan for Friday (10th) was to drive over the mountains to a car park in the little seaside town of Marina del Este close to Alumñecar that our friends Chris and Anita had raved about. I had deliberately chosen the scenic route over the moutains and we knew it would be slow but we had all day to drive the 60 miles. First stop was a Repsol garage on the edge of Granada that did have LPG and we filled up. As I suspected we had used a bit more than our usual 1 litre per day but not that much more so the heating has not been too expensive.

We turn off the Motril motorway about 10 miles from Granada on to the AL4050  and were really pleased to fine a wide smooth two lane road climbing slowly up into the hills. After a while we passed a large quarry and the road deteriorated at once. Not seriously and it was still ok but less smooth and less wide. Still we climbed. I use an app called Ulysse on one of my phones as a digital speedometer as it is easier to read that the built in speedo. This software also reports altitude although I have never really used that before. Today I watched it carefully as we climbed and the highest point was over 4,500ft. As we started off at 2,300ft in Granada the bulk of today’s drive would be the descent to sea level the other side!

We parked for coffee in the forest shortly before beginning the long twisty desecent to Alumnecar. Altitude here is 4,300ft
The road down the other side was never really steep but twisted and turned as it hugged the sheer mountains sides
Mountains views – we are about 3,500ft here
Lower down – now about 2,500ft
Just above the small town of Otivar. Note the terracing and the agriculture at this level (about 1000ft)

We found our way to Marina del Este down a steep, twisty, narrow road that I am glad I had checked on Google maps in advance or I would have wondered if I had made a mistake! The car park was gorgeous. Right beside a little beach just around the corner from the promised marina (full of very expensive sailing boats). We plan two nights here – in fact that is the most we can stay as without the services we had planned at Granada and none here we will be in urgent need of water and waste disposal by then!

Looking back toward Alumnecar from the Marina Car Park – Bertie is in the larger car park behind me as I stand here.
Our little bit of heaven at Marina del Este
The view from Bertie’s front window!
Alhambra