Thursday, January 7, 2010

Granada 12/5/09

On our last day on land in Europe, we woke up at 6:00am. We went to breakfast at the Garden Cafe, and then went to meet our tour group in the Stardust Theater at 8:00am. We met up with our old friends, Judi and Patsy, as well as new friends, Helen, Frank, and Lorraine on the bus from Malaga to Granada. We really enjoyed spending time and getting to know all of them on this excursion! We drove about an hour and a half through the mountains to our destination. We passed groves of Olive trees and drove through the middle of clouds!
On the way to Granada, we made an inexplicable pit stop at a restaurant/souvenir shop. We weren't really sure why we stopped when the drive was relatively short. With such a packed itinerary, we didn't think an unecessary stop would be the most productive way to spend our time. When we got to Granada, we went on a short driving tour through the city. It was really hard to see anything through the bus windows, and I was sad that we didn't really get to see the Cathedral aside from a quick drive-by with limited visibilty. I would definitely love to go back and see more of Granada someday. We kept climbing through the mountains, and finally arrived at the Alhambra. We met our guide, Carlos (very cute!), and started our walk through the gardens at Generalife. The gardens were pretty with the tall trees and hedges, but I'm sure it is much prettier in the spring and summer when the trees and flowers are in bloom. The view over the main palace and the city was also very pretty.

We walked through the palace at the Generalife, and then started to head for the Palace of Charles V. Before we went to the palace, Carlos let us have a brief restroom break. Natashia and I made use of the time by taking silly pictures, of course!

(With Carlos!)

When we got to the palace, it was really hard to keep up with Carlos (one woman put a glove on top of her cane and held it in the air to help everyone find the group if they got separated!), hear everything he was saying, and take pictures at the same I opted for the pictures! I'm sure I could have learned a lot and probably enjoyed the tour more if I had been able to hear all the history of the Alhambra, but I also wanted to get some good pictures.

The architecture was pretty, however, after a couple of hours of going room to room (most of which looked an awful lot alike), Natashia and I were ready to be done with it and move on the next part of our excursion. Finally, it was time to go. We left Carlos and reboarded our bus back to the center of Granada. We went to a hotel where there was a huge buffet style lunch set up for all of us. It was a bit hectic at first, but once we got situated, we enjoyed the food and complimentary wine! They had some traditional Spanish dishes, as well as some American favorites. I was brave and tried some of the Spanish food, but I prefered the more familiar stuff (sorry, Raquel! ;-P). After lunch, while we were waiting for our bus to come around and pick us up, we noticed it was getting pretty late. We asked our guide if we were going to make it to the Albaycin. The Albaycin is the old Moorish part of town. It is set up on a hill opposite the Alhambra, and gives great views of the city and the Sierra Nevada mountains. According to our excursion description, we were supposed to go there for a short tour and photo stop. But, our guide said he did not even know that we were supposed to go there! We were pretty upset. Going to the Albaycin was one of the main reasons we chose this tour over others...and it was not cheap!! We had a pretty view of the Albaycin from the Alhambra, but it was not the same as being there!
Our drive out of the city gave us some really nice views of the snowy Sierra Nevada!
Ok, so some of you may have heard stories, but on the bus ride back to Malaga, while most people were napping peacefully, Natashia and I got a little silly! (Shocking, I know!) In our delirium, we took a series of incriminating photographs...I won't post any here, but if you scroll to the bottom of this entry, you will find a link to an album with all my pictures from the day. View at your own risk! Hahaha! We arrived back on the ship at 6:00pm. Along with Judi, we decided to go to the excursion desk to inquire about why our tour was cut in half. We were hoping for a bit of a refund, but were told we would have to wait a day or two before we could get an answer. Jumping ahead a few days, the first remedy that was proposed was the offer of Norwegian t-shirts. Needless to say, we were absolutely not thrilled with that idea. Judi took it upon herself to talk with Prem, one of the officers on the ship. Prem said that he would gladly get us a 10% refund on cost of the tour. It wasn't much for missing half of the excursion, but at least it was something. He said the refund should show up on our account within a couple days. We kept checking our account a couple times a day, and noticed that the charge had only gone down one cent. Finally, Natashia and I went back down to the excursion desk to fix the situation once and for all. The man we were talking to said that it showed the full 10% refund on his screen and that he didn't know why it wasn't showing up for us. He turned his monitor around so we could see what he was looking at, and I immediately noticed what the problem was...they had raised the price of our excursion $20 before issuing the discount so that it would still break even!!! We couldn't believe they would have done such a thing just to keep their money! Did they not think we would check on it?!?! Anyway, we definitely made sure it was put back to the original price and then discounted. Whew! So, back to the day at hand...after our visit to the excursion desk, we decided to wander the ship a little. These are two of my favorite pictures I took of the pool deck!

We ended up in the Spinnaker Lounge. We found a comfy seat and watched the sun setting over the water at port.
The ship was delayed about an hour in leaving, presumably because there were some stragglers getting back to the ship! As I was taking pictures of the sunset, my camera battery died. I left Natashia to save our seat, and went back to our room to grab my backup battery. When I got to the room, I saw that we had a voicemail message. It was from Chad! He and Scott were feeling better and wanted to know if we were up for doing dinner! I ran back to get Natashia, we called the boys and agreed to meet at Le Bistro at 7:30pm. From the company and service to the drinks (I had 2 delicious cocktails called "Passionate Kiss," some cabernet, and an irish coffee!) and food (onion soup, beef tenderloin, potatoes, and HEAVENLY creme brulee!) right down to the Versace plates we were dining on, dinner was amazing! It was a leisurely meal, taking about three hours. I missed seeing the Rock of Gibraltar as we passed, but, considering it was dark anyway, I think it was worth it! After dinner, Chad and Scott invited us up to their Garden Villa Suite for an exclusive tour. All I can say is that it was almost 5000 square feet of incredible!
After a little while, the boys decided it was time to go to the Casino to play the quarter pushing machine (haha, I don't know what it's really called!) and to the Champagne Bar for another drink (a yummy fruity martini)!

Chad was getting sleepy, so we went upstairs to put him to bed, and Natashia and I got to try out the fabulous massage chair in their suite! Then, Scott, Natashia, and I went to Bliss for a little bit before heading to our respective rooms for bedtime! When we got to our room, we received the first of six notices to turn our clocks back one hour that night. I definitely have to say that the gradual, 6 day change back to U.S. Eastern Time was very nice considering the jet lagged alternative!

See more pictures from "Granada 12/5/09" HERE

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