The Alhambra, on the outskirts of Granada, is seventy-seven miles from Malaga, one of the international gateways to Spain. It also has direct flights from Madrid. The Alhambra suggests the Arab’s idea of heaven, complete with flowers, tinkling waters and beautiful houris. It is a palace with twenty-five or more interiors and courtyards. The Court of the Lions is the Alhambra’s piece de resistance. In the center of the courtyard is a fountain supported by twelve amiable lions, each spewing water from its mouth. Each side of the court is backed by a room, artistic in its own right. The visitor can imagine the robed courtiers, the veiled beauties of the harem, muted voices and the intrigue.
The Parador San Francisco has replaced a convent which in turn replaced a Moorish palace on the Alhambra grounds. There are only twenty-six double rooms. Like all paradors, it is rated four-stars, one star less than the five-star luxury hotels. At least take a meal in the Parador. Two other four-star hostelries are in Granada nearby.
In Cordoba a major cathedral has been built within a mosque, a rare accommodation made by one religion to another.
Much of Spain’s tourist activity lines up on the Mediterranean Coast, especially along the Costa del Sol, south of Malaga. Only a few years ago the sun coast was a sleepy series of villages. Now it is solid hotels, restaurants, villas, and condominiums. The town of Marbella is at its center. Malaga is a departure point for Morocco via ferry or hydrofoil.
The Costa Brava (the brave or wild coast) centering on Barcelona is to the north. It is difficult to get to by road, less crowded and unspoiled. Cadaques is the recommended town. Avoid it though during August, when the Spanish, like the French, take their vacations.
The image of all-season swimming on the Mediterranean beaches of Spain is misleading since winter is sunny but definitely not warm enough for swimming.