7/9- Granada Spain
For our one day in Granada Sharon & Judy suggested we go to the Alhambra. It was a palace and surrounding structure built by the Moors in the 13th Century. Ferdinand & Isabelle hung out here and it was rumored that here is where they gave Chris Columbus the go ahead for his big cruise in 1492.
It deteriorated over time but in 1862 Granada, the town, decided to restore it. They have and are still doing a great deal of rebuilding and it is really quite beautiful (top pix). The Sultan, in the 14th century, would stand on the balcony in the afternoon (2nd pix) and pick out his partner for the evening from those that were bathing and lounging in and around the pool below. (I never got up to the balcony.) The view from Alhambra (3rd pix) is spectacular.
We then went into Granada to spend an hour or so looking around. There are plenty of places to buy "chotchkis" (stuff)- (4th pix).
With only one day in Granada, there was undoubtedly tremendous pressure on our research department, however at the last minute we were able to capture on film (or disc actually) an example of the lack of sartorial elegance of some of the locals (bottom pix). SHAMEFUL!!
Tomorrow begins what is probably the most aggressive of our journeys. I had called Marrakech last week and they said (after a number of calls) that there would be "no problem" flying to Morocco. I called today, and was told that I needed "authorization." It may sound hard to believe, but I was given another number to call for the "authorization". They in turn gave me another number, who in turn gave me another, etc., etc. This happened seven times until the last person gave me the first number I called.
We thought at that point of just giving up. It does say in the aviation manuals I have, that you do NOT need authorization, just a flight plan 24 hours in advance. Sounds good but these manuals have been wrong before on this trip. I called the controller in Granada, Spain and was told to just fax a flight plan. I did, then called back, and he said it was approved. I asked, "approved by Marrakech?" and he answered "Yes- NO PROBLEM." Well we will see.
We have reservations at the La Mamounia Hotel in Marrakech. We plan on leaving the hotel in Granada about 8:15 AM with a 9:30 AM take off time. We DO want to take off before it gets too hot here. Airplanes don't like it when it's too hot. The trip should take about 2 hours and 45 minutes. We will fly over Malaga, Spain on the southern coast. From there it is about 100 miles over the Mediterranean to Tangier, Morocco. We then pass over Rabat, Casablanca, and finally to Marrakech.
As tourists, I am sure everything should go smoothly. We are staying at what is reputed to be one of the finest hotels in the world. As fliers of a private plane, I really don't know what to expect. Since we do all of our flying IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) that will probably be as efficient as it has been so far (with some strange local quirks to the way they do things). On the ground at Marrakech, --- we'll see---
I do not know how good the telecommunications are from Morocco. If we can, we'll continue to update the web and receive and answer email. If not, we will be in Lisbon on Monday (scheduled) and we'll update it then.