Lost in the Alhambra

Alhambra 9534 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Alhambra Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

These are the windows, and the view, that saw me losing sight of my husband, our tour guide Juan, and the rest of our group  inside the Alhambra, just before the Patio of the Lions.

Alhambra 9595 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

I was among those laughing, at the outset of the tour, as Juan encouraged us to stay together, even as he explained that it was rare for a tour to conclude without at least once person going astray from the group.Alhambra 9593 Copyright Shelagh DonnellyWell, the laugh was on me. We’d booked one of the first available tours of the day which, in theory, meant there would be less crowds through which to find your way.

Alhambra 9606 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

We were right, but it turns out that “less crowded” is a relative term. Before making our way into the Nasrid Palaces, our group began with Generalife, a series of exquisite gardens and more. I’d have thought that, if anything would distract me or cause me to lose sight of our group, it would have been the opportunity to photograph the Alhambra’s plant life.

Alhambra Gardens 6614 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

We were all equipped with headsets to hear Juan’s interpretations of the different areas we toured, and it was clear that range was limited. If Juan’s voice was overtaken by static, you knew you’d better get a move on. While I was taken with the gardens, and captured plenty of images, they were not my undoing.

Alhambra 9584 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly It was those gorgeous windows, the surrounding tiles, and the views both within and without, that caused me to pause a moment too long, just as a half dozen or so groups converged on the Patio of Lions. Each group, of course, consisted of at least a couple of dozen people.

Alhambra 9589 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

Could I spot my husband, or find a familiar face?  No. Could I hear Juan through the headset? No. Was I going to ignore the beautiful geometrics everywhere around me? Again: no. They were too beautiful, varied, and abundant, to ignore.Alhambra 9596 Copyright Shelagh Donnelly

So, while the mass of people in which I was immersed also grew, I made my way through the remaining rooms and courtyards of this UNESCO World Heritage Site with both ears attuned for Juan’s voice through the headset. After the first few minutes, I gave up on the notion of attempting to spot a single individual through such crowds. Should I have sped up? Slowed down? Made my way to the exit and work backwards if need be? Nope. Once you exit the palace, you can enjoy the rest of the grounds, but you can’t go back in.

As it turned out, and despite thinking I was straggling far behind, I must have passed our crowd somewhere inside the palace, as I did make my way back to the gardens before the rest of the group. A half hour or so later, I finally saw familiar faces. This wasn’t, however,  without more than a few moments of frustration or cringing, even now, at the thought of being the tourista who lost her group !

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