Thursday, 2 August 2007

Bye bye crowds

I've always been an early riser (unless I've got a hangover, I suppose) and one thing I like about that habit is that if you're out at seven in the morning in summer, you've got the streets to yourself. And, usually, that lovely warm light you get early on, and that disappears into a burning glare by ten o'clock.

However, you've got to get up very early to get some sights to yourself. Well, you can't, really. I was fifth in the queue at the Alhambra, and even at eight thirty as the gates opened, the Nasrid palaces were beginning to fill up. Even so, the atmosphere was placid and quiet, and the mountain breeze cool - later on, the palace becomes crowded and hot.

When at ten in the morning I saw the queue for the Alcazar in Seville, I would never have thought I would have half an hour all on my own in Pedro the Cruel's palace. But I did. And this is how;

I turned up at four o'clock in the afternoon. Hey, no queue! All the tour groups seem to have gone by this time - they do the place in the morning. Still fairly busy. Anyway, time to look around, take some photos, take notes, wander the gardens. An enjoyable experience.

Now the place closes at eight. By seven o'clock, the crowds are thinning. So about then, I thought, let's go back and look at the palace again. About ten past seven, I think I haven't seen anyone for a while. I look at my watch; I'm not going to get shut in here, am I? No - loads of time left.

Everyone else had gone. There were still people in the gardens; but no one at all in the palace. So I just carried on moseying; sat for a while in the courtyard; amused myself trying to work out how the wooden doors had been put together and which bit went where (the Arab carpentry is rather like a more complex and ornamental kind of Rubiks cube); and eventually made my way out of the palace twenty minutes later.

So a lesson learned. If you can't turn up early - turn up late!

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