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So the idea of travelling now is somewhat a moot point, borders are closed, restrictions abound, the pandemic is everywhere and there are serious health risks. So we have to think of the future where would we want to go. Will we ever travel again, maybe, who knows.

In our case it is returning to cities we loved. That would be Berlin, Vienna, Salzburg, Rome, Granada, and somewhere in Sicily a lovely island, Trapani, Marsala?

Today, maybe this is the cooler weather around 0 C. and the Winter smell in the air got me thinking of Granada in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada and the fabulous palace of the Alhambra with its magical gardens.

The Alhambra Palace and fortress at dawn.

We were in Seville and took the train up to Granada, the difference in temperature was striking, Seville was pleasantly warm whereas Granada was cool if not cold at night. The distance is about 250 Km. the city of Malaga is much closer to Granada. We had arrived in Seville with our ship sailing up the Guadalquivir River which is silting up and is no longer the great river that saw Admiral Cristofer Columbus return from the Americas with his ship loaded with treasures.

Queen Isabella of Castille (1451-1504) and her husband Ferdinand (1452-1516) both are buried in the Royal Chapel of Granada in what was formerly the great Mosque of Granada. From looking at their caskets they must have been no more than 4 feet tall. Both of them are recognized as the founders of the Spanish Monarchy by unifying the Iberian peninsula and defeating the Moors in Granada in January 1492 the same year Columbus travelled to the Americas. This is why upon his return Queen Isabella wanted to celebrate by having him come to Granada. The Pope Alexander (Borgia) whose family where from Valencia, awarded the Sovereigns the title of Catholic Monarchs. This is why to this day the King of Spain is known as His Most Catholic Majesty. King Ferdinand was also king of Sardinia, Sicily, Naples and Majorca. Sicily will be ruled by Spain until its unification with Italy in 1870 the same applies to Southern Italy or Calabria. To this day Sicilians see themselves as a separate people and not as Italians.

The architecture and the panoramic view of the snow capped mountains makes for a beautiful city. We really enjoyed Granada, the highlight was the visit of the gardens of the Alhambra in their Moorish style and the palace which we visited late at night with no other light but that of a full moon, it was magical, something I cannot forget.

The walls are sculpted stone with intricate geometric details. It reminded me of the type of architecture I saw in Cairo from the period of the Abbasid Caliph architectural style. It was Mohammad Ben Al-Ahmar, Emir of Granada who built the palace we see today. It was so splendid that Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand made it into their royal Court. They had no such palace with running water, so this was a move up for them. After 1550 the palace is abandoned and falls for centuries into disrepair, occupied by poor squatters, only after the defeat in 1814 of Napoleon who tried to destroy the palace in retaliation against the Spaniards who fought him, it was British artists and intellectuals on the grand tour who rediscovered it and popularize the site. It is truly a gem of Islamic architecture.