Granada

Our first full day in Spain was spent in the beautiful city of Granada. We had a somewhat late start to the activities as we continue to try to rebuild after a sleep-deprived travel day. We all had a full Spanish breakfast, complete with tortilla de patatas and churros, a full spread of pastries, all kinds of meats and cheeses, eggs, juice, coffee - and the list goes on! A bit more than I expected after our tour manager told us that Spaniards rarely eat more than a croissant with a cup of coffee!

We were then off to the Alhambra - a palace and fortress complex with a rich history in both the Muslim and Christian cultures. To say this was an incredible experience would be a grave understatement. It was incredible on so many levels. Aside from the sheer beauty of the grounds and surrounding buildings, to see such intricate and maintained Muslim architecture and design was truly special. Thank God that, for whatever reason, it survived so many opportunities for destruction. The carvings alone left us all breathless.

After our extensive visit to the Alhambra, we had a delightful lunch at a restaurant very near to the palace. It was nice to be able to visit with one another and share our experiences from the hours before.

Having filled up on a larger-than-expected lunch, we took the bus to one of the higher points in Granada known as the Albayzin district and hiked our way down towards our hotel. It was a very informative and interesting walking tour lead by a local guide and we learned a lot about the life of a Spaniard in Granada as well as the rich history in this area. Though, I will admit, we were all getting very warm and tired by this point. Nonetheless, since we only had one day in Granada, we wanted to make the most of it!

The time had now come to get into concert mode, so we stopped briefly at the supermarket across from the hotel to pick up snacks before transferring to the venue. Spaniards eat dinner very late, and it was clear that we needed a little sustenance before performing. I will say that I enjoyed watching one of our young men buy a pack of salami, a wheel of cheese, and a loaf a bread. A European snack to say the least!

Our concert this evening was indeed something special. We were invited to be featured on the annual Granada music festival which presents the likes of Juan Diego Flores, the Berlin Philharmonic, the London Symphony, and the Choir of Men and Girls from Christ Church Grosse Pointe. It took place at the Hospital Real (Royal Hospital) which has been converted into a museum/concert venue and an absolutely lovely space. Despite a soccer game featuring Spain against Croatia (which they sadly lost in the 87th minute), we managed to have a full house of nearly 250 people. An incredible experience so far from home. The choir sang well despite a long and arduous day, though I have no doubt they will sleep well tonight.

Tomorrow, we pack our things and head to Seville. I have been dying to finally meet this Barber that Rossini and Mozart have been talking about those years! Figaro!!!

Scott