May 10 - Granada
The morning found us getting up early to meet our tour of the The Alhambra. Our tour starting time had been changed to 8:30 from 10:00. We were happy because the temperature was expected to be hot in the late morning and early afternoon. We arrived at the pickup point before 8:30 at met some other tourists who were standing around waiting for our bus. Nothing happened for about 15 minutes when a young woman walked rapidly up the street and took us under her wing. We had to walk for a block to get onto our bus which took us up the hill to the tourist office where all of the tours begin. We eventually met our guide and we were off on our tour.
I had toured the Alhambra a couple of weeks before with our cycling group and a guide that we hired. Today's guide was an order of magnitude better. Gus spoke fluent and understandable English. He had a good knowledge base of history and culture and presented it in an interesting way. We saw all of the highlights and understood their meanings in our three-hour tour. According to its website, "The Alhambra was a palace, a fortress and a citadel; the residence of the Nasrid Sultans and top government officials, court servants and the royal guard".
The tours are not only interesting for their historical and cultural perspective, but for their logistics as well. There are basically two parts of each tour - the gardens and the palaces. To stroll the gardens, you only need an admissions ticket. To go into the palaces, you need a guide and a special ticket that gets scanned five times for five admissions. The number of people in each attraction is strictly controlled.