ALHAMBRA

Alhambra would have been very beautiful, if it wasn’t so hot.

Just after lunch was likely the worst time of day to see Alhambra, the extreme summer sun barely casting a shadow, and it took a lot of effort to keep cool – mentally speaking especially. Our ‘semi-private’ motley tour group of 13 (maximum 17 according to the website) arrived to a steaming Alhambra at 1:30 p.m. to start our three-hour guided tour of the royal complex. Our guide was an affable woman who, given the heat and mix of personalities under her, had the temperance of Job the entire time we wandered from one Moorish palace to one Moorish garden to another Moorish palace to no end. Lucky for our guide, we had use of earpieces that let her speak effortlessly into a microphone as we were sheep-herded from one amazing structure to the next, giving so much detail of each that I zoned out much sooner than I wanted, concentrated mostly on keeping cool and staying out of the oppressive sun. Admittedly the gardens were incredible, I could barely wrap my head around how green the plants were and how many different kinds of flowers could survive such weather. There were calming fountains and courtyards, lots of space, and beautiful views all around. After three hours though I couldn’t take any ‘moor’ and pretty much wandered ahead of the others in order to get away from some unsavory characters (people lagging behind and making us wait) and irritating behavior (some who made it their mission to latch onto our guide and pester her with questions). We were practically walking nonstop from the start, the longest break, perhaps not strangely, at a store that sold different kinds of Moorish-inspired merchandise.

As the tour came to an end, I was thankful for the experience but was dreading the ride back where once again we had the pleasure of keeping company with the two, now no longer strangers, that joined us in Seville. They chatted nonsensically with each other nonstop while the rest of us were quietly napping. When the van driver said he couldn’t drop us off at the hotel and dropped us off instead at the place where he picked us up, the Asian in the couple flared up diva-style, only to be told this was the same place as they were picked up earlier. ‘Oh…’ he said. I advised him to calm down and he simply glanced at me and walked off. Madre mia.

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