Monday, October 18, 2010

Feliz Cumpleaños, Enrique!

Very early Saturday morning (as in 3:00 a.m.), we boarded the night train from Valencia to Granada. Aside from the fact that the train was supposed to leave the station at 12:44 and was delayed over 2 hours, it was a pretty cool experience for both the kids and us. We were assigned a family sleeper cabin, which included 4 small beds, a sink and a window. Poor Bill was pretzeled into his little bed, but we all managed to sleep (some of us more than others) before we arrived in Granada for the start of Henry's birthday weekend.

Our hotel, The Alhambra Palace, was designed after the Alhambra and was located just about 200 yards from its entrance gate. I think Henry must have said, "Thank you" about 50 times when he saw where we were staying - not exactly sleeping in a castle, but pretty darn close!

The only way to gain access to The Alhambra is with same day tickets (and only 500 are sold each day), so Bill headed out at 7:30 Sunday morning to purchase ours'. Visiting The Alhambra is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience! The Alhambra started being built in the 13th Century and is the scene of some of the most important events in Spanish history. Much to our delight, we visited The Alhambra during the short period of time when a special exhibit, Matisse at The Alhambra, was displayed. With Matisse being one of Henry's painters, it felt like kismet.

Within the walls of The Nazrit Palaces, located in The Alhambra, are the palaces erected by Isabella and Ferdinand when their rule of Spain began. In fact, one of the main rooms that has been preserved is the very room where Christopher Columbus gained their commission for his voyage that would later lead to his discovery of The Americas. It was mind numbing to think that we were standing in that very room some 800 years later! The day before we went to The Alhambra, we visited the Granada Cathedral and saw the crypt where Isabella and Ferdinand are buried - pretty amazing! It's a bit early to tell, but I think these experiences have been far better for Henry and Caroline's education than the coloring sheets of the Niña, the Pinta and the Santa Maria that I seemed to get in school every year around Christopher Columbus' birthday!

On Monday, the day of Henry's actual birthday, he awoke to room service breakfast in bed and a nice, hot bubble bath. We took another train to Sevilla and will be here for a few days. We had lunch and took a handsome cab ride around the city, in honor of the birthday boy. Today, we hope to visit the Cathedral de Sevilla - the largest gothic cathedral in the world and reputed home to the remains of Christopher Columbus. We are so anxious to get out today and see more of this amazing place! My friend, Philomena, said that she left her heart in Sevilla many years ago. I think we may have found it.

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