TWO DAYS IN SEVILLA – OLA!

DAY ONE
Welcome to Sevilla and the ‘sport’ of  bullfighting!  Sevilla is home of one of Spain’s last premiere bullrings and why should I mention this first? Because just this past week the wife of 29-year old matador, Victor Barrio, watched as her husband was gored to death in front of her in the ring.  No, this didn’t happen at the huge ring in Sevilla, but at a bullfighting festival in eastern Spain.  But still, it causes one to pause and try and understand why this is considered a ‘sport.’

Yes, I did tour The Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, saw the museum, heard the stories and saw where so many ‘world famous matadors’ had made history (or met their end.)  It does seem that Spain is slowly trying to phase this sport out as they did close down the rings in Madrid.

Seeing the very heavy and beautiful Suit of Lights that a matador wears was interesting but the dozen of stuffed heads of the bulls they had killed was not my cup of tea.

The Ring
The bull’s Entrance

So lets move on to more fun stuff that I saw and did during my 2 days in Sevilla! We had a very nice, very modern AirBnB just up the street to the bullring and then around the corner from the Cathedral and the main shopping area of town. The first night we were in town we found a fabulous indoor market (Spain’s answer to our delis!) very similar to the one I loved in Madrid.  You go from counter-counter and make your choices – everything from fresh seafood (yummy sushi) to hot stuffed meat pies dripping juice and cheese to over-the-top pastries.  You eat one or two and then go trolling for more!

Chocolate waterfall 

 

The market/deli at night.  It’s big!
Walking back I noticed the first of the many wall alters of saints.  I found them everywhere, though mostly in alleyways or down smaller side streets. I never found someone to ask their history – but being a very religious Catholic country I saw them as an everyday opportunity to pray to your favorite saint, ask for a blessing and know that your ‘religion is everywhere.’  They are quite lovely and I am sure, quite old.

         

         

Beside the meal we shared the night we arrived, we five travelers spent our time apart while in Seville.  Anita had gotten a chill and Dick’s asthma was acting up. The other couple had been to Seville before so they did their own thing – which wasn’t much.  The weather was lovely, sunny and bright, if a bit chilly (it was the middle of January!) I was out the door the very first thing each morning and usually the last one back in the evening.  
The first day, map in hand, I headed to the Sevilla Cathedral and La Giralda Tower.  Said to be the 3rd largest cathedral in the world (no way I could fit the entire Cathedral into one photo) and the largest one of Gothic design, it’s construction began in 1401.  But it’s origins go back to the 12th century, as it was originally a mosque. As was usual, when the Christians arrived they just tore it down and built over the site – but the left the La Giralda Tower.  Inside you find hundreds of pieces of art and the burial site of Christopher Columbus.  It is really one of the most imposing and beautiful buildings I’ve seen to date.  The line to get inside went on for miles, but I snuck my head in a side door and WOW!  
Only a little portion of the whole
The 12th century Giralda Tower
Inside the Cathedral
Outside the Cathedral

It’s now 2 p.m. and I was starving.  I wandered through a large, inclosed courtyard and entered the tunnel heading out to the street behind the Cathedral. There I found a small indoor/outdoor cafe offering wine and tapas – what more could I ask for?  I had the oh so delicious #7 on the menu.

Enclosed courtyard 

   

I sat for over an hour just sipping my beer, nibbling on the delicious food and watching the people stroll past – one of my favorite pastimes.  But now it was time to get up and wear-off that lunch.  Next on the agenda – The Real Alcazar de Sevilla.

Entrance to the Real Alcazar
The Real Alcazar is one of the royal places of the Spanish monarchy.  It was built in 913 when Seville was under Muslim rule and you certainly can see this in the mudejar architecture which reminds me very much of the Alhambra.  Alcazar means fortress and it served this purpose many times during it’s sometime turbulent years of existence.  The rooms are stunning and you could spend days just wandering through the vast gardens. There are even Roman ruins here.  The King stays here whenever he visits Seville on state business and there are members of the royal family that live in the palace full time.  I spent several hours and took 100’s of photos and here are just a few to give you an idea of this magnificent structure.

 

 
I stopped on my way back to the AirBnB for dinner at a Chinese restaurant when saw it was full of Chinese people and presumed it must have good food!  I was proven wrong.  It was okay, but certainly not the best Chinese food I have had, but maybe it was the best Chinese that Seville has? Should have returned to the Market.

DAY TWO

Free Walking Tour!  A great way to start the morning.  Today it was Pancho Tours with their bright orange t-shirts and umbrellas that I met up with behind the Cathedral on a damp and not-too-sunny morning.  The tour was 3 hours long and took in the following sites:

  • Cathedral & Giralda (only outside)
  • Puerta de Jerez
  • Palacio de San Telmo
  • Tobacco Factory & university
  • Statue of El Cid
  • Prado de S. Sebastián
  • Maria Luisa Park
  • Plaza de España: the highlight of this tour.
  • Lunch all together: optional, the most fun and interactive part of our tour. 
The Palacio de San Telmo, which is between the Cathedral and the Alcazar, holds so much history!  It contains every single document from every voyage that every single Spanish sea captain ever made – including Sr. Columbus.  Lists of what the ship carried as cargo, the names of every crew member and every passenger, the list of supplies, animals transported, everything down to the very last detail.  They are also Spain’s answer to Ancestry.com. It’s where you would come if you want to find your long-lost Spanish uncle.  And it’s been ‘going digital’ for the past 10 years.  They estimate it will take at least another 15 years to digitalize all of the documents they have.  

The Tobacco Factory/now University still has a faint order of tobacco that lingers in the classroom air.  The El Cid statue is huge and I can’t find the picture!  I do remember Charleston Heston played him in the movie. Why was it that Heston seemed to play every ‘bigger than life character’ in the 50’s and 60’s – Moses, Ben Hur, El Cid.

The Maria Louisa Park was so beautiful with it’s statues of lovely young women and poets who died of unrequited love.  There is a gazebo, formal gardens and flowering pathways to wander.  It’s right in the heart of a noisy city yet is so peaceful and serene.  

And then there is Plaza de Espana.  Built in 1929 to host the Ibero-American Exposition World Fair to showcase Spain’s industry and technology exhibits. The Plaza is HUGE with a moat running through it.  You can rent small paddle boats and slowly glide along the waterway.  Numerous bridges cross over the moat, leading to colorful tiled alcoves representing every region of Spain.  Today the buildings are used as government offices and museums.  On a lighter note, just two of the major movies that have filmed here are Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars – Episode II – The Attack of the Clones.

The majority of members of our tour took up our guide’s offer to take us to a neighborhood cafe for a typical Spanish lunch (at almost 3 p.m.)  Tour members were from Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, England and the US which lead to a great and quite lively conversation.   

I had the opportunity to get to know a lovely, young lady from Georgia who is a student at Cornell but doing a year abroad at the London School of Economics. We walked slowly back to the central area and agreed to meet for a drink when I was in London in a  few weeks – and we did!  Meeting and getting to know, even briefly, so many people from so many different places, is one of the true joys of traveling.

Tobacco Factory/University
Plaza de Espana – with a moat running thru it!
The ladies of Maria Louisa Park
Just one of the many alcoves at the Plaza de Espana depicting a region of Spain
 

I had purchased a Hop On-Hop Off bus pass and now was the time to use it.  I spent the rest of the afternoon on the open-air top deck of the big green bus with my earphones tuned to the English channel while riding through lovely neighborhoods, past huge monuments and ever huge-er buildings, snapping photos along the way.  Wish I could remember everything I saw, but I don’t.  I will just have to  to return and spend a lot more time than just 2 days in this beautiful city.

Cute!
Love the door handle
Inside a small church
Colorful tiles
On a wall along a side street – so pretty
Gate house to large mansion
Love the tiles!
Toro del Oro
The Rio Guadalquivir which runs through the city. 

Morning of DAY THREE finds our little group arguing about who should be responsible for taking out the garbage – those depart first or those that are not leaving for 4 more hours?  And you wander why I chose to usually travel solo?  

But it’s time to pack-up and begin the very easy 3 1/2 hour return drive to my little cottage in Ferragudo.  I have just two weeks left before flying to the UK for a few days and then back home to the US. 
Ferragudo 
My three months in the Algarve have flown by.  I met some wonderful people – especially Jorge and Maria and their extended family who took me in and made me feel truly ‘at home.’  I will miss the local ladies at my gym who would much rather gossip with each other and flirt with the young instructor than do any type of exercise.  I will certainly miss having coffee and shopping with my dear British friend, Maureen.  And dear Raquel, who played ‘tour guide’ on her days off to show me around her beautiful country.  I miss you all and promise one day to return. 
Até mais tarde……….

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