Travelling seems to be the only exercise I typically get and visiting the Alhambra in Granada, Spain fulfilled my quota for cardio and endurance training for the foreseeable future.
Construction on the Alhambra (a lambra is Arabic for the palace) began as a simple fort in 889 and was completed as a sultan’s palace around 1250. I sits high on a promontory overlooking the current city of Granada in Southern Spain. It attracts around 8,000 visitors per day and I think I saw about 7,988 of them (more on that later).
This is the last Moorish stronghold in Europe and in reality is a place of retreat. The Christian Reconquista took the Alhambra in 1237 and thus the Moorish presence in Europe came to an end. While some of it has been destroyed, Napoleon lodged some of his army here at one point and they were a tough bunch, large portions remain delightfully in tact. Other areas faced destruction from the Christian conquerors simply to prove a point; It’s ours now. But thankfully Charles V left the glorious Palacio Nazaries in tact when he built his own palace to make his mark.
Because there are so many visitors, crowd control is complicated. I had to make a reservation weeks in advance that included specific times I could visit some of the sites inside. The only slot I could find was in the afternoon and this actually worked out for the better I learned since the morning crowds are a bit heavier. I still found the process a little confusing but worth the effort.
I arrived back at my hotel, with aching feet, tired, thirsty, hungry, and with one major disappointment. It was not until then that I realized that two of my friends from Los Angeles (now Las Vegas) were at the Alhambra at exactly the same time I was! When we compared notes, it appears that I arrived just about 10 minutes ahead of them. Unbelievable! Hence I only saw 7,998 of the 8,000 visitors that visited that day.