The Alhambra, Granada

The Alhambra (meaning ‘red fortress’ in Arabic) is an ancient palace and fortress built by the Moorish rulers of Granada in southern Spain (known as Al-Andalus when the fortress was constructed), occupying a hilly terrace on the southeastern border of the city of Granada.

Granada - Copyright: Phil Wiley 2005

Granada - Copyright: Phil Wiley 2005

Once the residence of the Muslim rulers of Granada and their court, the Alhambra is now one of Spain’s major tourist attractions exhibiting the country’s most famous Islamic architecture, together with Christian 16th century and the later additions of the ornate gardens that can be seen today.

In the warmer months the Alhambra can become so full of tourists that the Palace (full of art and antiquities) closes it’s doors quite early. They only allow a set number of visitors inside per day, so if you arrive later than midday you could be locked out. You can still enter the grounds, and walk the walls, but you won’t get to see many of the treasures.

Granada from Alhambra - Copyright: Phil Wiley 2005
Granada from Alhambra
Copyright: Phil Wiley 2005

My suggestion is to get there no later than 11am. If you’re staying in Granada be aware that it’s quite a hard walk from most of the tourist hotels so, unless you speak Spanish and can find the right bus (and bus-stop) it’s probably best to get a taxi.

The Palace of Charles V, within the Alhambra, was erected by Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor in 1527. Its most westerly feature is the alcazaba (citadel); a strongly fortified position. The rest of the plateau comprises a number of palaces, enclosed by a relatively weak fortified wall, with thirteen towers, some defensive and some providing vistas for the inhabitants.

Completed towards the end of Muslim rule in Spain by Yusuf I (1333-1353) and Muhammed V, Sultan of Granada (1353-1391), the Alhambra is a reflection of the culture of the last days of the Nasrid emirate of Granada. It is a place where artists and intellectuals had taken refuge as Christian Spain won victories over Al Andalus. The Alhambra mixes natural elements with man-made ones, and is a testament to the skill of Muslim craftsmen of that time.

Alhambra - Copyright: Phil Wiley 2005

Alhambra - Copyright: Phil Wiley 2005

The literal translation of Alhambra “red fortress” derives from the colour of the red clay of the surroundings of which the fort is made. The buildings of the Alhambra were originally whitewashed; however, the buildings now seen today are reddish.

The first reference to the Qal’at al Hambra was during the battles between the Arabs and the Muladies during the rule of Abdullah ibn Muhammad (r. 888-912). In one particularly fierce and bloody skirmish, the Muladies soundly defeated the Arabs, who were then forced to take shelter in a primitive red castle located in the province of Elvira, presently located in Granada. According to surviving documents from the era, the red castle was quite small, and its walls were not capable of deterring an army intent on conquering. The castle was then largely ignored until the eleventh century, when its ruins were renovated and rebuilt by Samuel ibn Naghralla, vizier to the King Badis of the Zirid Dynasty, in an attempt to preserve the small Jewish settlement also located on the Sabikah hill. However, evidence from Arab texts indicates that the fortress was easily penetrated and that the actual Alhambra that survives today was built during the Nasrid Dynasty.

The magnificence of Alhambra is well portrayed in this slideshow.
The music, ‘Granada’, is provided by Andres Segovia on the guitar.

Ibn Nasr, the founder of the Nasrid Dynasty, was forced to flee to Jaen in order to avoid persecution by King Ferdinand and his supporters during attempts to rid Spain of Moorish Dominion. After retreating to Granada, Ibn-Nasr took up residence at the Palace of Badis in the Alhambra. A few months later, he embarked on the construction of a new Alhambra fit for the residence of a king. According to an Arab manuscript published as the Anónimo de Granada y Copenhague,

“This year 1238 Abdallah ibn al-Ahmar climbed to the place called “the Alhambra” inspected it, laid out the foundations of a castle and left someone in charge of its construction”

The design included plans for six palaces, five of which were grouped in the northeast quadrant forming a royal quarter, two circuit towers, and numerous bathhouses. During the reign of the Nasrid Dynasty, the Alhambra was transformed into a palatine city complete with an irrigation system composed of acequias for the gardens of the Generalife located outside the fortress. Previously, the old Alhambra structure had been dependent upon rainwater collected from a cistern and from what could be brought up from the Albaicín. The creation of the Sultan’s Canal solidified the identity of the Alhambra as a palace-city rather than a defensive and ascetic structure.

The Muslim rulers lost Granada and Alhambra in 1492 without the fortress itself being attacked when King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isabella of Castile took the surrounding region with overwhelming numbers.

Sightseeing in Paris

Sightseeing in Paris

Sightseeing in Paris is a must for any traveller. For those of you out there who love to get out and see the sights on a trip you can’t go past a visit to Paris.

When you go sightseeing in Paris you get the whole deal – there’s culture, authenticity and that little snap of individuality. So I’m told anyway 🙂 And seeing I did it my way I guess the individuality bit is about right.

Already in France visiting my aunt and uncle who live in a fantastic farmhouse in Normandy, I  traveled from a little town called Flers in the French countryside to Paris by – not one of those utlra fast ones which whizz you by everything before you have time to see it, but a slow countryside plodder of a train…. lovely.

I’d booked a week in the Bleu Marine Paris Montparnasse Hotel mainly because it was within an easy walk of the Eiffel Tower and the river (and the railways station so I didn’t have far to carry my luggage) and the first thing I saw when I walked out of the Montparnasse train station when I arrived, was the breathtaking sight of the the Eiffel Tower looming straight ahead of me. Wow! It was the first time I’d seen it in real life. And I could see it everytime I turned around right until the moment I stepped inside the hotel. Sadly I didn’t have a view of it from my room, because I couldn’t afford one of the better rooms.

Paris is sightseeing on a whole new level. On my list of must does were the Eiffel Tower (of course )  Notre Dame Cathedral, Arc Di Triomphe on the Champs-Elysees, The Louvre, Napoleon’s Tomb and so, so much more.



Who wants to go to Paris for 2 weeks?! #Shopping #Eating #SiteSeeing #FallingInLoveeeee

Wednesday, June 13, 2012 5:16:54 AM


#325. Before I die, I would like to put a love lock on a lock bridge in Paris, France with the one I love.

Sunday, June 17, 2012 1:11:14 PM


@dOrmesson Moi j’y suis, en mode virée champêtre dans la pampa au nord-est de Paris, j’en suis à ma 3ème partie! ^^

Sunday, June 17, 2012 10:07:11 PM


My sightseeing in Paris (naturally…seeing I’d been yearning to climb it my whole life) began at the Eiffel Tower. This 116 year old structure which graces the Parisian skyline stands at 324m high and is a favourite stop for tourists from all over the world. For just a few euros you can walk up the 1665 stairs or catch the glass lift all the way to the top to get one of the best city views you will ever see ( the best night time view of the tower itself is probably from the top of the Montparnasse Tower which was near my hotel…brilliant (you have to pay to go up to the viewing platform though)

Back at the hotel I decided against eating in their restaurant and head out into the streets looking for somewhere quirkier and Parisian. And I found it big time 🙂

Monsieur Lapin… understated decor featuring a bizarrely morbid take on Alice in Wonderland on the toilet door, and as the name suggests a penchant for rabbit based dishes (lapin in French) . Delicious food but slightly strange place, where nearly all the other diners were male gay couples 🙂

I’m going to use the word bizarre again, because I’m a vegetarian so it it was a bizarre choice of a place to eat  in the first place…but the most bizarre thing about the place was a  HUGE picture in the ladies toilets of Alice in Wonderland brandishing a shotgun and a dead rabbit in a waistcoat with a watch at her feet. I remember my horror when I closed the door to behind me, sat down, and looked up to see her staying at me with that malevolent look..then I couldn’t stop laughing. Brilliant!

Sightseeing in Paris – The Louvre

My travels then took me to The Louvre – an absolute must for sightseeing in Paris! Based in the former Royal Palace, the Louvre Museum showcases the very apartments that Napoleon Bonaparte lived in, still in their original state. Given the long history of the Louvre, the glass pyramids which mark the entrance of the museum at the end of the Tullieries gardens seem in stark contrast to their surrounds. The Louvre showcases around 35,000 works of art including the Mona Lisa, Venus de Milo and many other famous works from around the world. The place is so huge that it is estimated it would take five and a half weeks of non-stop looking for someone to see everything within the Louvre’s walls.

When sightseeing in Paris you also can’t go past a visit to the Moulin Rouge, it is expensive to go in, but well worth the experience if you can afford it!

by kate wiley (this article is an ongoing adventure which will be added to soon, and regularly….sorry it’s so short at the moment. I actually wrote it at about 7 or 8 years ago when it was just thrown together without much thought except pleasing the search engines to make some money running advertising, which I no longer care about. Since then I’ve been back to Paris several times, and I’m still travelling – currently in Melbourne, heading for London in a few weeks.)




Paris – what other’s are saying:

A Moveable Party in Paris | My Melange


RT @MrTommyLand: Paris btw in the morning is beautiful No traffic wow! I could hang here! ????????????????????????

Sunday, June 17, 2012 10:07:09 PM



Sunday, June 17, 2012 10:07:04 PM


@lynabelaiid chez des amis près Paris!:)

Sunday, June 17, 2012 10:07:01 PM

After a long day of sightseeing in the Ciy of Light, many folks decide to pack it in early. Those who are into the party scene know there is plenty of nightlife in Paris to keep you busy after hours. But did you know that some of the …

Publish Date: 03/01/2011 20:00

Sightseeing in Paris, by land and water | paris1972

Sightseeing in Paris, by land and water. Over time I have read some folks claiming to want to be in Paris with limited time, sometimes even in between correspondence at the airports. Even thus I do not agree this is the best way to see …

Publish Date: 12/12/2010 2:31

Sightseeing in Paris: Sacre Coeur | Paris | iStopOver Magazine

a travel magazine brought to you by iStopOver, features great photos, expert reviews, cool maps and fresh content every day.

Publish Date: 01/29/2011 0:34

Alternative Sightseeing in Paris

Paris may be renowned as one of Europe’s most vibrant and interesting capital cities, but once you’ve climbed the Eiffel Tower, pushed through the crowds in front of the Mona Lisa and done a hunchback impression at Notre Damme what’s …

Publish Date: 02/21/2011 8:58

Parisian Tweets

Just had the most lovely day of sightseeing, shopping and wandering the streets in Paris

By PaintedRockLaur at 03/02/2011 6:19

@AlanTWilliamson Go sightseeing =D Paris is one of the best places in Europe, but Amsterdam is even better =D have fun whatever u do!

By Ann_moi at 03/01/2011 3:04

Were you in Paris on your vacation? I don’t know, my wife got the tickets.

By Felicityfmw at 03/03/2011 13:08

@SamanthaLynVona i need a longg longg vacation! like a year is paris sounds great!

By cassie_argeras at 03/03/2011 12:11

just booked the flight to Paris! Tomorrow going to book a flight for London too then all my vacation plans for this Spring are updated

By oalisa at 03/02/2011 4:41

A late winter vacation: I am taking a vacation to Paris! So really, this is a big deal vacation for me. I will b…

By madebyfrances at 03/02/2011 3:05

@kaythaney bah, epic fail on the holiday front, Ms Thaney. Though Paris in spring is lovely.

By grace_baynes at 03/02/2011 20:16



Australian Farmstay

farmstay - myella

Australian Farmstay


Myella Central Queensland


by Kate Wiley


When I tell people that I’m from Australia they automatically assume that I live in Sydney. In fact, I’ve noticed that plenty of foreigners seem to completely associate Australia with Sydney, kangaroos and that’s about it. They’ve got it all wrong! If you want to experience the real Australia, you need to do a farmstay, mate!

You can’t go home and say you truly experienced Oz unless you go on a farm stay during your holiday, and believe me, there are plenty around. In fact, farm stay is a booming part of Australia’s tourism industry.

If you go on a farmstay you’re guaranteed to make new friends, get great photos and experience a way of life that you’ll find nowhere else in the world.

Of all the farmstays I know of one comes to mind that stands out above all else for brilliant hospitality and an awesome, genuine experience. I’ve been to Myella Farmstay at Baralaba, Queensland twice, and I had the time of my life both times.
Myella Farm

A farmstay is the real deal

On a farmstay, no matter where it is, you get the real deal. I can guarantee you that you will get the bluest sky you’ve ever seen, with some of the reddest dust you’ve ever seen. That makes for for a sunset like no other you’ve ever seen followed by a majestic night sky studded with the brightest stars you ever saw.

This is definitely true at Myella Farmstay.

When I went there I had no idea what I was in for. Having been twice now, I can’t wait to go back! Hosts Lyn, Olive, Peter and Ken are some of the most genuine people I have ever met and they have done a marvellous job of opening their family cattle station to travellers from all over the world. Believe me, Myella Farmstay is good old Aussie country hospitality at its best.

Myella Farm

At Myella, and no doubt many other farmstays as well, expect to spend your days horse riding, riding motorbikes and helping out around the property. I read on one of the Myella brochures once that you will leave sore and dirty, but very happy – how true that is! If you don’t like getting dirty then don’t go to a farmstay when I showered the water washed out of my hair tinged red and I was cleaning red dust out of my ears for a while there, too!

And yep, I was sore too. During my farmstay I was assigned to a buckskin horse called Rebel. He had a bit more go than some of the other horses (I’m a horse girl from way back and have my own horses) so I was up for a bit of fun. At Myella Farmstay everyone is assigned to horses according to personality and ability – and I’ve got to give it to them, because they usually get it spot on. I had an absolute ball riding Rebel, but even though I ride all the time I was so sore on day two after several hours in the saddle on my first day at the farm stay. On day two I got the opportunity to give him a go at barrel racing – a real eye opener given that I’m a dressage rider, but sooo much fun!

Me feeding an orphaned baby kangaroo at Myella

Between all the great farmstay activities take the opportunity to do a bit of washing, play games, go into Baralaba or go for a dip in the pool.

At the end of the day there’s nothing quite like sitting around the campfire with a few coldies (Australian for an ice cold beer) chatting to your new mates and sharing stories. Then its to bed to do it all again the next day, and believe me, it will be one of the best and most welcome night’s sleep you’ll ever have!

Aussie country hospitality is legendary,so why not experience it for yourself on a farmstay?

Kate Wiley

Myella Farm Stay, Queensland, Australia, August 2010

We spend 4 days of our Australia vacation this year in August on this farm. An unforgettable and very impressive experience. The children always asking to get there again …


Blog posts about Myella Farm Stay

Will and Loulou's travel diary: Day 144 : Myella Farm and bumping


Got picked up early from Rockhampton YHA to go to Myella farm stay in the outback; Had some breakfast then collected eggs and cuddled chickens; Learnt another style of riding similar to western (not that we needed to steer

Myella Farmstay Baralaba

We stayed here for 3 days. My son – 9 years old – had the time of his life! The picked us up at our hostel in Rockhampton at 6.30am and we were in…

Publish Date: 12/19/2010 23:49

Myella Farm Stay Horse Riding Motorbike Farmstay Myella Queensland

Website: Myella Farm Stay. OK… You’re travelling around oz in your Wicked Rental Camper and so far so good. You’ve boozed up with your fellow backpackers in some of the major Australian cities and you’ve even managed to make friends …

Publish Date: 07/03/2007 17:16

Myella Farm Stay

This past weekend, we spent 3 days and 2 nights at the Myella Farm Stay in Baralaba, Queensland. To get there, we flew from Sydney to Rockhampton, aka Rocky – the Beef capital of Australia. We happened to arrive a few days before the …

Publish Date: 05/04/2009 21:33

Half man half horse

Man or Horse. This Japanese guy came to stay with this great horse head costume and oh boy did we have some confused horses at Myella!

Publish Date: 12/21/2007 21:46

Learn French – visit France!

learn french in paris

Learn French by visiting France

I really want to learn French. I mean really. I went to France recently and was starting to do quite well at it – my daily progress on speaking French really ignited an interest in the language and the culture for me. I can’t wait to go back!

I am reasonably well traveled for a 22 year old. I have been to many countries on various continents, often having no clue how to speak the native language. My most recent trip has encompassed Thailand, England, Spain and France. I used to learn French when I was in primary school. Like most kids I knew, I hated it. Over the years however, my extensive travel has ingrained a love of travel and languages in me and I can speak bits and pieces of lots of different ones.

My experiences have taught me that if I want to learn French, the quickest way to do it is to go to France and immerse myself in the language and culture.

For the five weeks I was in France it was my mission to learn French to the highest level I could. Okay, so I’m not fluent, but I sure learned a lot! When you find yourself completely surrounded by people that don’t speak English it’s amazing how much of their language you can pick up.

I started out knowing that bonjour means hello and that was about it! After a week of trying to learn French by listening and talking to people I knew a lot more and could ask if someone spoke english and make a purchase in a shop with a degree of confidence. By the end of my five weeks I could (and still can!) explain that I am a vegetarian and order a salad without egg, ham or cheese with fries and a drink. I can hold a basic conversation and get the general idea of what is being said to me.

If you really want to learn french, or any language for that matter, they key is to immerse yourself in the language and culture as much as possible.

I had a great time trying to learn french in an immersion situation and when I drove over the border into Spain – yep you guessed it –  I accidentally started speaking French to the Spanish! Oops!

by Kate Wiley