impossible” We are told repeatedly.
can get tickets to the Alhambra
unless they book many months in advance.” The hotel concierge shakes his head
friends who booked their tickets four months before they came here. If you cannot book online then it’s
impossible. Enjoy the rest of Granada.” He adds before
shrugging his way out of the small cubicle in which we sit, along with the
hotels only working computer. We had
coaxed him into helping us muddle our way through Spanish websites when we
couldn’t buy tickets on the Alhambra
Palace’s website but he
had other guests to attend to. None of
the guidebooks that we had both meticulously read before getting to Andalucia
mention anything about booking ahead. It
seems hopeless and we only have one night in Granada
to see the Alhambra after having spent the
larger part of our trip in Seville and Cordoba.
shame. It is the most beautiful of all
the palaces.” The receptionist calls out to us when we finally walk away from
the computer screen. News of our
desperation had spread out among the amused staff at the front desk and even a
hotel cleaner or two.
I am on
my yearly trip away with a best friend, an escape ritual newly begun when we
decided that we needed time for us, away from family responsibilities and
schedules and commitments. Andalucia in Spain’s
southern region, had always held special sway, and I longed to experience its
special blend of Moorish and Spanish history.
We are visiting in May when the weather seamlessly flows from hot days
with the sun beating down on our faces, to cold breezy nights that surprise our
progressively tanning bodies into grabbing pashminas and light sweaters before
an outdoor dinner. It is the region of
citrus groves and olive trees. Lemons
grow as large as oranges before dropping from trees in swollen relief so that
the ground below is pitted with them.
But they also grow on trees along pavements, on the edges of roads and
in small random patches of garden on side streets. On one of our walks in Seville a few days earlier, I pick up a lemon from below the tree it had fallen from and its smell lingers on my fingers
for hours before I cut it open to release its intense sweet and sour scent. We taste citrus everywhere: in the blood red
orange juice we drink at breakfast or to cool us off in the heat of the
afternoon, and in the lemons squeezed onto the exquisite tapas and sweet tomato
gazpacho we had been devouring for lunch and dinner throughout Seville and
regroup over a small dish of herb infused olives in the hotel lobby. We would go to Alhambra anyway, we decide. We would resort to tears if required, we
agree. Spain is the land of chivalry;
surely no one could resist crying women.