Decided to wimp out and fly from Casablanca to Malaga, Spain, with Royal Air Marac, rather than go back through Tangiers. Once in Malaga, I caught a 2 hour bus on to Granada. Loved the location of my hostel/hotel/airbnb/boardinghouse/whatever. Right down in the old town. Highlight was seeing Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, at dusk, (and getting tickets eventhough online it said they were sold out for 6 weeks), and taking an Olive Oil tour, complete with olive oil tasting and tour of groves and old school factories. Did you know that Spain makes 40% of the world’s olive oil, far outpacing Italy and Greece, each with about 20%? I thought not! I really liked Granada. Perfect contrast to Morocco.
Downtown Granada! At the end of this street is where I had my breakfasts, usually at 9:30 when the shop JUST opened up. I love hanging around European Old Towns before the tourists show up.
Another street before the tourists. Notice how SHINY an CLEAN the walkways and streets are. This is something I noticed about many countries I visited this year – so much decaying concrete. Granada was the opposite.
Random street singer. He was pretty good too! He’s sitting acros from the big cathedral.
Okay, Alhambra is a UNESCO site and a huge complex of Moorish influenced palaces and gardens, high atop a hill overlooking Granada. As I said, I managed to get daily “rush” tickets even though the online store said they were all sold out. I was given a 5:30pm entry time, which annoyed me at first. But since the sun set at 8pm, I enjoyed Alhambra in a beautiful dusk.
Interior wall, covered in stone carvings.
Detail of wall stone carving.
Lots of doors and windows with this amazing design, all different patterns, materials and other elements.
Okay, that’s it for Alhambra. I have LOADS more pictures but if I’m going to get all these things posted, I must move on! Next the Olive Oil Tour!
This is a 300 year old olive tree. The mountains in the background are the Sierra Nevada. The wall is pretty old too.
In the old times before modern machinery, local families would dump their olives in these vats, each family was assigned its own vat.
A donkey would get strapped in and turn this wheel, which would do the initial crushing of the olives, pits and all. It would end up as a paste which….(next slide please)
…get spread out on these pads. The pads would then be stacked up, maybe doze of them, and then…..(next slide please)..
This lever would be pressed down with increasing pressure, to squeeze all the oil out of the olives. This was the much desired “first press”. After the oil was out, they would press it again later for oil to be used for cooking oil or medicines or lubricants or whatever. When it was all gone, the olive (by now pretty dry) paste would be used for fertilizer or animal feed..
This is an olive oil tasting! Just like a wine tasting only, uh, with olive oil. I was surprised how different the oils tasted side by side. You ate a slice of apple between tastings to clear your palate. Not in the picture, a basket of bread to dip into the oil.
A part of the lore of this small ancient olive oil producing village is that the water that runs out of the Sierra Nevada mountains and nourishes the olive oil trees….is also the fountain of youth. So here I am drinking my way to immortality.