Monday, April 6, 2020

Cycling Europe 2019 Day 16: Alcala La Real To Granada - the UNESCO Heritage City

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                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
As I sit at home to write this blog on a ride we did four/five months ago, the world is facing a dangerous pandemic, the Covid-19. To help slow down the spread of this pandemic & have it eradicated, I am STAYING HOME and not going out unless really necessary.
Stay Safe, my friends.


Cycling Europe 2019 Day 16: Alcala La Real To Granada - the UNESCO Heritage City
Portugal, Spain & France: Day 16 Monday, 11th November -  Alcala la Real To Granada
This is part of a cycling tour of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain), covering some cycling in Alcalá la Real & Granada.

Cycling Distance: 4.95 km.     Level: Easy
Time : 9:25 am to 12:30 pm
Time Taken : 3 hrs. 5 mins. (including waiting for bus & bus ride.)
Driving Distance Alcalá la Real to Granada: 50 km taking about 40 mins.

Cycling Around Granada:
Campo de Principe>St. Cecilius Parish>Realejo>Genil Riverside>Virgin of Sorrows Church>Batallas Fountain>Campo de Principe>Granada Cathedral>Alcaicería>Campo de Principe.
Cycling Distance: 8.68 km.     Level: Medium
Cycling Time : 1:15 pm to 6:30 pm
Time Taken : 5 hr. 15 mins. (including many stops for lunch, at bicycle shop, visiting cathedral & other attractions. and lots of photo opps.)

This is page 14 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D15 A. la Real          |          Go To Other Days      |      Go to D17 Granada 2 >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
     On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    It was a easy ride from and to our home-stays in Alcalá la Real & Granada and the respective town's bus stations for a bus ride between the two cities, i.e. the Estación de Autobuses de Alcala La Real (Alcala La Real Bus Station) & the Estación de Autobuses de Granada (Granada Bus Station).
    Later it was a ride to explore Granada; starting from Campo de Principe to head to the hilly areas of the Realejo near the Alhambra Palace Hotel. Then it was down to the Genil Riverside, and onward to Plaza del Campillo & the Granada Cathedral before returning back. The route was fairly flat except for the hilly areas of the Realejo.
         
3. Weather
    Morning temperatures aAlcalá la Real averaged 8°C. In Granada afternoon  temperatures averaged 14°C, while evening temperatures was about 10°C. Temperatures here was colder as the town is up in the highlands, and due to a cold front, the weather was colder than usual. It was a day with overcast skies.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather; and for more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Bringing Bikes Onto European Trains, Buses & Trams
    Both in Portugal & Spain, full size bikes and folding bikes (there is no necessity to fold them) can bet taken into inter-city trains, metros and trams for free and without bagging. Do note that bikes may not be allowed during peak hours.
    For regulations regarding bringing bicycles onto different Spanish trains, click here. For regulations regarding Barcelona, Click here and click here.
    We took 10:00am Alsa bus from Alcalá la Real to Granada (the bus tickets were bought online through Alsa's Website a day earlier. The bus fare was €5 per pax. There was no charges for our bicycles which was folded & bagged to be loaded onto the bus hold. The 50km bus journey took 1 hr. On working days there are six buses per day, less on weekends.

5. Places of Interest
    At Granada were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:
  1. Coliseo de Atarfe (GPS: 37.22449, -3.70141), enroute in Atarfe.
  2. Mapa de la Memoria Histórica de Granada Archway (GPS: 37.19106, -3.60711).
  3. Monasterio de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción "La Cartuja" (Carthusian Monastery) (GPS: 37.19201, -3.59949).
  4. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba giant bust (GPS: 37.18311, -3.60238) at central boulevard along Avenida de la Constitución.
  5. Monasterio de San Jerónimo (Monastery of St. Geronimo) (GPS: 37.17916, -3.60388).
  6. Plaza Isabel La Catolica (GPS: 37.17565, -3.59744).
  7. Bodega La Mancha front entrance (GPS: 37.17700, -3.5975).
  8. Bicicletas La Estación (Brompton bicycle shop) (GPS: 37.17301, -3.59295).
  9. Parroquia San Cecilio (St. Cecilius Parish, the patron saint of Granada(GPS: ).
  10. Bird's eye view of Granada from Poligono las albarizas marbella (GPS: 37.17417, -3.59182) at the .
  11. Alhambra Palace Hotel (GPS: 37.17406, -3.59001).
  12. Wall murals street art near Centro Privado De Enseñanza Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Private Teaching Center) (GPS: 37.17021, -3.5887).
  13. Fuente de los Cuatro Leones (Fountain of the Four Lions) (GPS: 37.16960, -3.59271) at Plaza del Humilladero which run along the Genil River.
  14. Fuente De Las Granadas (Fountain of the Granadas) (GPS: 37.16936, -3.59579).
  15. Iglesia De La Virgen De Las Angustias (Church of the Virgin Of Sorrows, the patroness of Granada(GPS: 37.17009, -3.59685).
  16. Fuente de las Batallas (GPS: 37.17215, -3.59862) at Plaza del Campillo.
  17. El Caminante statue (GPS: 37.17223, -3.59881) at Plaza del Campillo.
  18. Centro Artístico, Literario y Científico de Granada (Artistic, Literary and Scientific Center of Granada) (GPS: 37.17283, -3.59897).
  19. Catedral de Granada (Granada Cathedral) (where King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella are buried) (GPS: 37.17659, -3.59906).
  20. Palacio de la Madraza (Madrasah Palace) (GPS: 37.17605, -3.59830).
  21. Iglesia Sagrario Catedral De Granada (Sanctuary Church of the Granada Cathedral) (GPS:37.17595, -3.59899 ).
  22. Alcaicería (Moroccan Moorish Bazaar Market) (GPS: 37.17551, -3.59887).
  23. Plaza Campo de Principe (GPS: 37.17288, -3.59186).

6. Meals
a. Breakfast - a nice inclusive buffet at Casa grande (GPS: 37.46215, -3.92559) in Alcalá la Real.
b. Lunch - at Papaupa (GPS: 37.17321, -3.59316) in Granada:
    1. Tapas Tuna tortilla with olives, 2. Pineapple Salad, 3. Fish Paella Rice, 4. Pork cheek with banana, cocoa and coffee sauce, 5. Stuffed aubergines with meat, 6. Lime mint juice, 7. Colombiana apple fizz, & 8. Beer.
d. Dinner - at Taberna Tofe (GPS:37.17281, -3.59228 ) in Granada
    1. Complimentary Tapas that came with our order of wine (Tapas couscous with mini pork sausages), 2. Ratatouille, 3. Fried sliced aubergines with cane honey, 4. Iberican pork blade "Abanico" with honey mustard, 5. Mixed Tapas, 6. Mother-in-law meat balls.

7. Accommodations
    Two nights aApartamentos Campo Del Príncipe (GPS: 37.17224, -3.59256) in Granada which we had pre-booked through Booking.com; two nos. 4-pax apartments at a total of €248.50 per night (or €15-53 per pax per night).
    Address: Calle Escutia, 4, 18009 Granada, Spain.
    Phone: +34-619383266
    
8. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We bought pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three on-line through Lazada. As some of us stayed for a shorter period, we got two plans with cost ranging from RM30 to RM70 for a 20 days 4G and a 30 days 10G plans respectively. These plans include their "Feel At Home" package which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countries (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

9. Communicating with Locals
    In Spain, except in rural areas, many young locals can speak some basic English and communicating with them shouldn't be a problem. This is especially the case in hotels & restaurants.
     When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour, do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

10. Navigation
     Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
    Kevin was using a Beeline navigation unit that synchronized with pre-planned routes on his phone app. Sin & me were using the Garmin GPS units and had pre-plotted our daily routes into respective GPX maps usable in these units. We had pre-loaded the PortugalSpain & France Maps together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. Do ZOOM out to look for turning points further ahead; and ZOOM in at complicated junctions, otherwise one may make a wrong turn (it did happen to us sometimes).
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
    At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests that were not shown on our GPS units. In Spain, Google Maps does work in Cycling Mode.

11. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.
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PRELUDE

Yesterday we had had a good morning ride at the Vias Verdes Greenway Subbética section of the Vias Verdes hiking/cycling trail in Zuheros. It was a pretty cold morning but the place was just too beautiful not to ride in. Later we took a taxi-van to Alcalá la Real, an even colder place.
Today we will take a morning bus to Granada which will give us some time to explore the city which is one of the most recognized city in Spain because of its UNESCO World Heritage listing. as a World Heritage Site.
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ALCALÁ LA REAL TO GRANADA


Route - Alcalá la Real to Granada:
Cycling Distance: 4.95 km.     Level: Easy.
An easy route between our home-stays in Alcalá la Real & Granada to their respective bus stations for a 50km bus journey between the two cities.
(Zoom in to see cycling routes at Alcalá la Real & Granada)


We were so blessed to be staying at Casa grande; the mother-daughter pair of Linda & Jade had come in earlier to prepare breakfast. It was as extensive as yesterday's one at Hacienda Minerva, but it was one that was served from the warmth of their hearts.
We were also impressed by the cutlery and crockery they used: faux-ivory breakfast knives from Sheffield brought back decades old memories as we used to use similar knives back home decades ago when Malaya just emerged from British colonization. So did the blue enamel egg holder and coffee grinder; these were all just nice small touches.


We waved our ta-tas to them and with a tra-la-loo rode down-slope heading for the Alcala La Real Bus Station, or rather pushed down the steep slope, behind us was Castillo de Alcalá la Real (Alcalá la Real Castle) and ahead of the commercial center of the town. Down at flat-land, we we rode slow and casually on the wide red-white chequered pavements.


9:30am - At the Alcala La Real Bus Station Sin was ever the helpful fellow, going into the bus hold while we passed our bagged Bromptons to him in order to arrange it nicely and securely (top photo).
Unfortunately, there was no numbered seating in the bus and passengers just grab whichever seat is available. This would be okay, but somehow the bus seemed to be over-booked and when Sin came up, all seats were taken and he had thought of seating at the far end of the corridor. Unfortunately, this is not allowed and we were at a lost thinking that he would have to take the next bus. Fortunately a kind senorita gave up her seat for him so that we could all stick together.
Gracias Señorita!


The bus journey was pleasant as expected, often going along the highlands to look down into the valleys of contrasting yellow meadows and green olive groves.


11:10am - We arrive at the Granada Bus Station and disembarked at the lower floor of this large station. Exit is to the roads is at the upper floor, fortunately there was a travelator to go up so we could unpack and unfold our bikes to push them along.


Cycling in Granada was pleasant enough. Along the main roads were either cycling lanes at one side, or beautifully landscaped central boulevards with wide pathways.


En-route were some impressive sights (anti-clockwise from top); brown entrance archway to the Mapa de la Memoria Histórica de Granada Archway, a praying monk statue at one of the central boulevard, a stately shop/apartment building, and a peep at the Catedral de Granada.
The top right photo is that of the Bodega La Mancha; our GPS units wrongly guided us there instead of our home-stay. I had always envisioned a bodegas as rowdy bar with scantily clad senoritas dancing and flirting with patrons (from watching too many movies, perhaps); no, a bodegas is just a wine bar or winery.
But the name of this bodegas have a ring to it ..... Aah, Yes! La Mancha is the where the famous Don Quixote hails from!


We saw two more notable things. first was a giant bust of Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba at Avenida de la Constitución. Gonzalo Fernández de Córdoba was a Spanish general and statesman who led successful military campaigns during the Conquest of Granada and the Italian Wars. His military victories and widespread popularity earned him the nickname "El Gran Capitán" ("The Great Captain").


The second was the Plaza Isabel La Catolica, where a large sculpture depicts Queen Isabel 1 giving Columbus her permission to make his journey. This was sculpted in Rome for the Fourth Centennial of the Discovery of America in 1892.


Further along, the main roads gave way to narrower roads that led to the Campo de Principe locality where we will be staying. It's located at the foothills of the Realejo and thus the roads began to be gently steep.
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EXPLORING GRANADA 
 
Cycling Route: Campo de Principe>St. Cecilius Parish>Realejo>Genil Riverside>Virgin of Sorrows Church>Batallas Fountain>Campo de Principe>Granada Cathedral>Alcaicería>Campo de Principe.
Cycling Distance: 8.68 km.     Level: Medium
A ride to explore Granada; starting from Campo de Principe to head to the hilly areas of the Realejo near the Alhambra Palace Hotel. Then it was down to the Genil Riverside, and onward to Plaza del Campillo & the Granada Cathedral before returning back. The route was fairly flat except for the hilly areas of the Realejo.

We checked into our home-stay, the Apartamentos Campo Del Príncipe, quickly freshened up and was out again! Our first stop was the Bicicletas La Estación, which sells Brompton bicycles too. Sin was having some problems with one of his brakes and we were hoping that they could repair it.... they could!
Then it was lunch at Papaupa where we had (clockwise from top left): 1. Aubergines stuffed with meat, 2. Pork cheek with banana, cocoa and coffee sauce, 3. Pineapple Salad, 4. Colombiana apple fizz, 5. Lime mint juice, & 6. Fish Paella Rice..


The highlight of the meal were these tapas of Tuna wrapped in tortilla and served with olives.


Our next destination was suppose to be the Alcaicería (Moroccan Moorish Bazaar Market), but somehow or other we went the wrong direction and ended up at the steep slopes of the Realejo, a hilly precinct located just below the Alhambra.


Although the climb and push did tax our muscles, it was a blessing in disguise for up here the roads were quieter and the houses more spread out. Here too was the Parroquia San Cecilio (St. Cecilius Parish), it is a Renaissance church which is dedicated to St. Cecilius, the patron saint of Granada.

We thought after this would be the end of the slopes. But fat chance, there were even more slopes ahead. The cobbled stone road made the roads even more difficult to cycle on; but we caught on and tried our level best to cycle along the center of the road which were constructed from smoother and flatter pieces.


A reward of getting up to the Realejo, peeping through the lanes between the houses were these scenic views of Granada, showing the town with it's low buildings stretching all the way to the hills of the Sierra Nevada at the other end of the valley.


The good thing of getting high is zooming back down again 😊.
But at the first section we couldn't go a-zooming as the narrower streets there were paved with cobble stones; any zooming down would mean more than a jarring shaky ride, it would be dangerous too. Playing it safe, we very slowly rolled down, squeezing our brakes ever so often until we reached the main road (Carril de San Cecilio) which was tarred .... AND it was a-zooming we went!


Suddenly mid-way down slope, my buddies screeched to a stop. Here drawn on the tall walls of the Centro Privado De Enseñanza Santo Domingo (Santo Domingo Private Teaching Center) were beautiful wall murals street art. The one above was at the entrance to the teaching center.


The murals led from the college all the way down Cuesta del Caidero and turned round the corner at Calle Vistillas de los Angeles.
(Click here to see more of the street art murals of Granada)


Just following the road downhill was good as it led us to the Paseo de la Bomba, a park that ran along the Genil riverside.

At the Plaza del Humilladero within this park were many fountains such as the Fuente de los Cuatro Leones (Fountain of the Four Lions) & the Fuente De Las Granadas (Fountain of the Granadas).

From the Fuente De Las Granadas, we headed away from the riverside and continued along Plaza de Bibataubin, the central boulevard of Carrera de la Virgen. I like this central walkway, lined with tall leafy trees it's a cool shady place to walk/cycle; and running along both sides were mosaic stone patterns.



To one side is the Iglesia De La Virgen De Las Angustias () which is also known as the Church of the Virgin Of Sorrows, the Patroness of GranadaSeptember is the month of Virgin of Sorrows, the Patroness of Granada, and every 15th of the month the Patroness of Granada leaves the church in a procession that goes through the streets of the city, which are filled with colorful flowers and people who had come from all over the city, province and neighboring cities.



At the other end of the Carrera de la Virgen is the Fuente de las Batallas; but what attracted Anne was not the fountain but a nearby statue nearby called the El Caminante. She was bemused by the weenie "wernier" of this bulky statue. Oops!
Jokes aside, this bronze was made by the Cordovan sculptor Juan Antonio Corredor. It aims to be a tribute to the contemporary human being as the one "who walks alone on a deceptive path".

Looping back to Campo de Principe, we had to start climbing back uphill.... Well what goes down have to go up sooner or later! Along the way saw this immigrant Chinese man pushing his small bike while carrying his young son and two heavy bag loads of things. He's not complaining so we better stop complaining too; in fact even pushing he was going faster than us riding up hill; I guess after a while one gets used to these slopes.

One of our favorite wefie photography is using those traffic convex mirrors.


5:30pm - We returned to the Bicicletas La Estación bicycle shop; Fenn was having some difficulties with her gear shifters and the friendly technician quickly rectified the problem..... and at no charge! Gracias Senor!



Our next destination was the Catedral de Granada (Granada Cathedral).
Next to it, built with large grey stone blocks was the Palacio de la Madraza (Madrasah Palace) which 
was formerly a Madrasah or mosque school. It was founded in 1349 by the Nasrid monarch Yusuf I, Sultan of Granada. The building is currently part of the University of Granada.

We hung around at the outside listening to a busker singing; behind him a mosaic made from pebbles depicted the Spain Royal Coat of Arms.


While some of us continued listening to the busker, the rest paid the €5- entry fee per pax and went in to see the interior of the cathedral. No photography is allowed inside the cathedral, so click here to see some Google photos of the interior, this is understandable as the cathedral is where King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella are buried.
Unlike most other cathedrals in Spain, construction did not begin until the sixteenth century in 1518 at the old Muslim center, after acquisition of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada from its Muslim rulers in 1492. While its earliest plans had Gothic designs, most of the church's design was in the Spanish Renaissance style.

Just round the corner is the Iglesia Sagrario Catedral De Granada (Sanctuary Church of the Granada Cathedral), with its impressive entrance with huge timber doors.

Built in 1704 and is attached to the cathedral of Granada.This church actually forms part of the but with a separate entrance for the public.
It has a Greek cross plan, and inside were interesting paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries and a sensational Renaissance baptismal font.
It's interior was very beautiful too AND the good thing is photography is allowed.
Here Anne is saying some prayers at the main altar.

On each side of the nave were shrines dedicated to Jesus and Mother Mary.



6:30pm - AND just round the corner was a surprise!
It's the Alcaicería (Moroccan Moorish Bazaar Market); we have gone a full circle, starting by going the wrong direction to look for this market, and now finding it almost at the end of our ride. 
We were expecting a sort of open market with a bazaar feel, but what was here were actually individual shops most of which catered to tourists.
Well that's the end of our cycling exploration of Granada. It's too early for dinner by Spanish dining standards, so it was back to the home-stay to freshen up first.

8:00pm - We took a short walk to the nearby Plaza Campo de Principe. "The square was built in 1497 to celebrate the wedding of Juan, the son of Isabel and Fernando after marrying in Cantabria. In the center of the square is the statue of Christ of Favors which was built around the 1640s. Between 1679 and 1682, when the province of Granada was hit by the Great Bubonic Plague, the Realejo district was the least affected neighborhood, and people believed that this was due to praying before the statue. Every year on Good Friday a crowd of people gathers around the statue at 3:00 pm in order to make three wishes.
More importantly for us, surrounding this plaza were many eateries and we had our dinner at Taberna TofeOur meal show in the collage above, clockwise from top left: 
    1. Complimentary Tapas that came with our order of wine (couscous with mini pork sausages), 2. Mother-in-law meat balls3. Fried sliced aubergines with cane honey, 4. Red Sangria, & 5. Iberican pork blade "Abanico" with honey mustard Ratatouille.

We also ordered a mixed plate of Tapas which included cheese, omelet and one of the Jamón ibérico!

¡Sabroso! ¡Es delicioso!!
(That's "Yummy! It's delicious!!" in Spanish)

Click here for a Relive bird's eye view of our Day 16 ride around Granada.
(For more photos of the Day 16, Click Here)
This is page 14 of a 16-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D15 A. la Real          |          Go To Other Days      |      Go to D17 Granada 2 >
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Related Blogs:




Street Art @ Granada
Lively street art mural seen at the Realejo & Campo de Principe localities of Granada - November 2019





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