Posts Tagged ‘Alhambra’

El Ángel

In Plenary, Presentation on October 23, 2013 at 7:58 am

El Ángel

On the roof at number eight again, a pale sun trying to burn through the thin layer of cloud overhead. I could be in the country here, in some crooked little pueblo, for all the city noise I can hear – which is to say, none. Red tiles and whitewashed walls, palms, ferns and potted plants – my visual field is a crowd of Andalusian tropes – but this place is different, has always managed to be different. Something in its proportions, in the shape of the slender carmens and villas that rise from the ramshackle roofscape, the better to build the miradors and terraces from which people have looked across at the opposite hill for centuries.

The horseshoe arches and heavy wooden doorways and window frames: there is something more distinctly Berber here than anywhere else on the peninsula. Something Arab. Something African. K has walked down to the frenetic city below where we were last night, almost intimidated by its busyness, its overflowing bars and bodegas, to shop. I’ll follow her down there soon; it’s only a five minute walk through the stepped and cobbled, car-free streets of the old town.

It isn’t completely silent; as I down the first coffee of the day and look up at the Alcazaba, I recognise a few notes of “New York, New York” as it wafts over from a house upslope behind me. It’s soft and welcome and entirely typical of the place. I can’t remember being here, in fact, and not being able to hear music, if only in the distance.  It always seems to be good music too: when it isn’t flamenco it’s jazz, or swing, or an old Billie Holliday number More

Los Gatos, Grandes y Pequeños

In Practice, Production on May 1, 2013 at 10:15 am

Los Gatos, Grandes y Pequeñas

The cobbles glisten along the Carrera del Darro and little rivulets of rainwater rush downhill as we walk up, our feet sodden in their inadequate shoes. The weather gives K an excuse to duck into one or two craft shops on our way but she isn’t buying today. She’s in good spirits though; I’m making her laugh – something I regularly try and fail to do.

We’re sharing a tiny umbrella so the view is downward, at the pavement and the street; the rain has managed to take us by surprise and we will be wet through by the time we’ve hiked up to our little cave in Sacromonte, the old gitano quarter that these days is a warren of tablaos that truck tourists in for a bite to eat, some flamenco, and out again.

Wet, cold and happy; we’ve spent the morning and afternoon wandering through our favourite place. Like a lion’s paw resting on mown grass, a few outcrops of the Sierra Nevada come to a stop here on the flat of the vega, the vast flood plain on which sprawls the modern city. Above it, on one of the lion’s claws, the old red fortifications of the Alhambra. On the next claw, the rambling, crumbling, tumbling network of streets and patios, palaces and carmens that makes up the Albayzin. Bougainvilleas and cypress trees pop up amongst the stone-walled gardens and dusty red roofs of old, white-washed town houses, churches and former minarets.

We passed the caracole bar on Plaza Aliatar and walked down Calle Agua del Albayzin to Plaza Larga and through the old Puerta de las Pesas. More


In Presentation on May 18, 2011 at 9:23 am

The sultan sits.

Around him the royal party recline; the tinted light from the cumarias stains their skin and bounces brightly from the polychromed walls – every inch of them covered in script and elaborate tile work; geometries in blue, green, yellow and black. Shells, flowers, stars…

The floor is glazed in blue and white and the high hall is a perfect cube; its immaculate symmetries offset today by shadow, the scent of fruit-flavoured shisha, heady perfumes, cushions, throws and music.

Bleary-eyed blinking ambassadors adjust as they come in from the courtyard and its water-refracted glare.

Nervous functionaries nestle in the nine alcoves.

Saïd sings.

The boy’s voice joins the shisha smoke and rises quietly, curling through koranic quotes and climbing towards the seven concentric crowns of the cupola. More


In Plenary, Presentation on April 21, 2011 at 9:13 am


We’re standing in the tiny kitchen. We want to leave but will wait a few moments for the proprietor to finish his prayers. His daughter doesn’t want to take our money and besides, his prayer mat blocks the only exit.

We found this place by accident. Our blood sugars low, we needed something to eat and we spotted this hole in the wall, this hatch. The sign overhead informed us of tea on the terrace with panoramic views. Peering in through the sunken opening and past its solitary hotplate we saw nothing and assumed that the salon de the was to be found next door as part of the adjacent palace.

I beckoned to the bearded cook that we would like to go through but he indicated that we should descend the few steps into the sunken opening. Like the gentleman I am I asked K to preceed me. More