PlanetSKI has been making some turns in Spain. The Pyrenees? No, Sierra Nevada in southern Spain. And there is far more to it than just the skiing. NEW

Did you even know you can ski in Sierra Nevada?

I didn’t until recently.

There is the historic Alhambra Palace, the beautiful city of Granada and then its up to the ski slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

All do-able in a weekend.

Departing on Thursday and returning Sunday evening.

I started with the sight-seeing.

Day 1 –

The 9.10am departure from London City airport was straight forward and utterly unstressful on the small BA jet that flew straight into Granada.

Goodbye England - Cliffs of Dover

Goodbye England – Cliffs of Dover. Image © PlanetSKI

Coming in to land was spectacular.

Flying low over the Sierra Nevada mountains was stunning.

But where’s the snow?

Can there really be skiing here?

Hello Spain - snowy mountains in the distance

Hello Spain – snowy mountains in the distance. Image © PlanetSKI

First stop the city of Granada.

Not your average first port of call on a ski holiday.

We drove in alongside almond orchards which had already finished flowering down in the valley.

I was assured that at higher altitude they were still in bloom and an unwelcome frost and snowfall at this stage might well ruin the almond crop.

So as a skier, would I want the perfect almond crop or some snow?

Probably some snow.

Next stop was the Alhambra Palace Hotel in Granada.

In time for lunch with a spectacular view across the city towards the mountains.

Granada and mountains beyond

Granada and mountains beyond. Image © PlanetSKI

The Alhambra palace – well what can I say about it that’s not in the guide books?

It is a ‘must see’ for everyone visiting Granada preferably with a qualified guide.

It was certainly a different way to start a ski holiday.

Our guide was Pablo Romero who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of every aspect of the Alhambra Palace.

He wove a wonderful tapestry with details from the Muslim Emirs in the mid 13th Century complete with colourful geometrics of Islamic art, mathematics and early science.

He enlightened me on Catholic conquests and Inqusition from 1492.

Then there was the subsequent opulent Palace built by Charles V in 1527, but never completed.

Courtyard of Charles V incomplete palace

Courtyard of the incomplete palace. Image © PlanetSKI

We visited the Nasrid palaces, Alcazaba and Generalife Gardens.

I had to pinch myself that I was on the way to a ski resort.


Alhambra of the Islamic days. Image © PlanetSKI

Religious verses on the walls

Religious verses on the walls. Image © PlanetSKI

Fountain of alabaster Lions

Fountain of alabaster Lions. Image © PlanetSKI

Elaborate designs

Elaborate designs. Image © PlanetSKI

Elaborate windows

Elaborate windows. Image © PlanetSKI

I learned how the traditional walled gardens were transformed into wonderful green oasis full of fruit trees and exotic herbs, flowers and vegetable.

They were irrigated by water provided by the sophisticated aquaduct constructed to divert some of the river water straight into the Alhambra.

Not only was the water used for irrigation but it provided fresh, clean pressurised water to the numerous fountains found within the palace.

These fountains are still supplied with water from the same aquaduct system.

View of Alhambra from Generalife Gardens

View of Alhambra from Generalife Gardens. Image © PlanetSKI

Pablo talked about the battles with Napoleon & Wellington in the 19th Century.

He pointed out the very English Elm Avenue planted by The Duke of Wellington in 1812.

He took us round the old town of Granada situated on the hill opposite the Alhambra Palace, and we visited the Tea Quarter and Moroccan style-Souks.

Alhambra - Twilight

Alhambra – lit up at twilight. Image © PlanetSKI

My brain was zinging with information.

You don’t get this on the way to Val d’Isere.

And talking of skiing I had almost forgotten that I had come to Spain for skiing.

But I had and I was promised the slopes above Granada were in good shape.

As I arrived they certainly looked good.

The slopes of Sierra Nevada, Spain

The slopes of Sierra Nevada, Spain. Image © PlanetSKI

I’ll let you know all about the slopes tomorrow.

I’m more than looking forward to it.

Check out the skiing in our next blog – Skiing in Spain – Day Two

Fact Box:

Our Guide was Pablo Romero (0034 609 12 11 05) or email pablokupfer@gmail.com

If you’re interested in visiting the Alhambra you need to book ahead to avoid disappointment as a maximum of 8,000 visitors are admitted per day (300 people every 30 minutes)

Book your entrance tickets here for the Alhambra.

For the spirit of the mountains