We woke up docked in Almeria, Spain. We'd been in this region before but it is large and we were hundreds of miles away from our last destination.
The big draws here are Granada and the famed Alhambra. Both could easily be trips on their own but we only had about 8 hours in port. We decided in advance to book a private group tour of the Alhambra, which would include private transportation, with Top Day Tours.
It was a long 2 1/2 hour drive to Granada from the port for our small group of ten. This drive was made longer and really uncomfortable because the "door open" alarm went off the entire time. Everyone, including the driver and the tour guide, was about ready to go bat-shit crazy but there was nothing to be done.
We drove past very interesting hills with houses built into the sides of them, house/rock caves if you will. It was hard to get a picture since we were on the highway but we noticed they were the very typical housing choice of the area. The heat out here in the summer is intense so this keeps the people cool. And insulated from hearing the non-stop door alarm...
We finally made it to Granada, our heads ringing from the audio abuse, and had a quick walk around. We went into the lovely cathedral, walked to one of the pretty town squares, and then explored the Alcaicera, a Moroccan style market of crafts, clothing, spices, etc.
We then drove up to the Alhambra and met our private guide who led us into the most beautiful gardens and grounds I have ever seen. We spent hours touring the palace, staring wide-eyed at the incredible detail given to its design.
There is nothing I could write to convey the true beauty that is the Alhambra so you will just need to get yourself there. There's even a parador on the grounds that you can stay in!
They only sell a certain number of tickets a day so unless you book a private tour you will need to buy your timed ticked well in advance, I think it's like months.
To make up for the insanity inducing noise of the van alarm, our tour company both got us a replacement van and treated us to a very nice lunch before heading back to the port. There was wine, two types of gazpacho, salads, grilled chicken, and ice cream. A very nice gesture!
After another long drive back (but a quiet one this time) we got cleaned up, enjoyed happy hour, and then joined the crew and passengers for a big BBQ out on the upper deck while we sailed off towards Cartagena!