Best Laid Plans...
Today was the day we planned to get our applications sorted for our NIEs, or Número de Identidad de Extranjero: a tax identification number for foreigners, basically.
It has taken some planning, as we have been warned that a lot of documentation is required, in duplicate, and even then we may quite possibly be asked to go and get something else, but we are prepared! So, as soon as the alarm went off this morning and it was still dark, we got ready to brave Spanish governmental administration at its best, at the Oficina de Extranjeria in Granada.
On the drive up, we did notice that the roads were remarkably empty but that did little to deter us from our objective. We found a little parking space near to our destination, and trotted up the road to find the office shut, with no lights on within.
It transpired that we chose to do our important admin on the day of The Fiesta Nacional de España: THE national day in Spain, and always on 12th October. Everything was shut in the city apart from the cafes and tourist shops.
Always people to find the positive, we took the opportunity to have a wander, leaving the car outside the dark government offices. As it happens, it turned out to be a fortuitous opportunity. I will recommend this particular walk, as we have often ventured into The Albaicin from the Carrera del Darro, in the river valley right below the Alhambra. It has always seemed slightly lacking in something, lovely as it, and I always felt that there must have been something more to see. The Albaicin is the medieval Moorish quarter of the city - a warren of weaving, cobbled lanes that zig-zag up the hillside opposite the magnificent Alhambra. As you wander upwards, gaps between buildings offer almost surreal glimpses of the magnificent Moorish Palace and its own mountainous backdrop.
Today, however, as we approached Granada City Centre from another direction, we saw an old gate, or Moorish archway, that suggested there was another route into the Albaicin, and we followed.
Steep cobbled steps led upwards, away from the rather grand Government buildings that line the Avenida de la Constitución. The views across the city as you ascend are incredible, even on a day when the promised and long-awaited rains looked set to appear.
Towards the top, we reached a square just off the Calle Santa Isabel la Real, and beside an immaculate monastery; a tiered square that provided the most wonderful views of the Alhambra, at the heart of a beautifully preserved historic quarter. This was the part of the Albaicin that I thought must exist and that I had never previously discovered. This is a place to spend time, to take in the sheer age of the buildings, to be amazed at the views at every corner, be they expansive vistas across to mountains, or discreet glimpses down narrow lanes lined with higgledy ancient buildings. Photographs just do not do justice to the magnificence of this place.
Despite not having been successful in our admin attempts, we discovered a while new corner of this beautiful city. Besides, we now have to go back tomorrow to sort out our NIE and that gives us yet another excuse for another explore. Oh, and it did rain, and we expect more tomorrow....