I went for the first time in the summer of 1972. It was murderously hot, but there were no queues, no timed visits, few visitors, you could wander around at will, linger, backtrack. I went back day after day for a week as well as exploring the Albaicín and other parts. It was magical, everything I could have wished. The sun set on the Torre Bermeja. I stayed in the Youth Hostel, where you ate in the courtyard under orange trees, wine was virtually free. During my visit an American guy turned up in a battered old blue van and from under the piles of dirty clothes in the back produced a beautiful Ramirez guitar in a case - we swapped pieces for whoever was listening, I even played Recuerdos - not that well, possibly, but at least I've played it in Granada. I went on to Córdoba - the same.
I went back in 1986 with my wife, promising how she'd love it. It had changed utterly - queues, crowds, ghastly. Córdoba just as bad - part of the Mezquita was even closed off, for a philately exhibition, of all things. My sister and family went to Granada about 15 years ago, just managing to get tickets for the Alhambra. At least they had a better experience in Córdoba than we'd had in '86. I've been to Spain many times, but (since then) always off the beaten track.