Found this in my draft folder!! No photos but sill had to share after all that thumb typing!
Sevilla: ¡que duende! What a way to finish Spain. It’s said that Seville has “duende” or “soul”, and that it does. I was staying at a hostal in ‘el barrio’, or the former Jewish quarters. The tall buildings and narrow alleys provide plenty of shade and are so narrow that a few where the buildings almost touch are called “kissing lanes.”
I stayed in my hotel room slightly longer this am, (what’s the point of being upgraded to a suite if you don’t enjoy it, right?? #Ballerstatus!) and washed underwear in the bathroom sink. (Oh right. #Travelrealnessstatus.) When I ventured out for coffee, I wandered the streets making my way to a smaller “Church of our Savior” cathedral where you could buy a combo ticket (and thus skip the lines) at the greater cathedral, the third largest cathedral in Spain that I would see later during my stay.
But Church of our Savior wasn’t a joke, either. You guys, understatement of eternity: churches back in the day were crazy!
After touring the cathedral I headed to the Arenal market for lunch, and after circling the block a few times, I tried to figure out why I couldn’t find it…. and it’s because it was closed. See! This is why I need a plan a b and c!
I knew of another market across the river in the Tirana neighborhood. That had to be open right?
It was almost 1:30.. Did even the markets close for siesta? It’s like 95+ degrees now and so hot but I was sooo hungry. Alas, I crossed the bridge and entered. It was very quiet and I was worried everything was closing. The fruits and veggies looked amazing. I bought a nectarine and two plums. “€0.72” (I’m so not in Barcelona anymore)
And had lunch at one of the cafès in the back of the market which was almost always advised as a great meal: good prices and fresh ingredients!
I ordered a tapa of the region: champinon con alioli y jamon (stuffed mushrooms with aoli and ham) and and wondered along the river back up towards the barrio. I did a barrio walking tour (self guided, holla at you again Rick Steves!) to see some of the sights before a siesta afternoon.
Then that night I had booked a flamenco show!
It was amazing and while no one in the audience was a local Sevillian, the performers were clearly artists. I got goosebumps several times. They don’t let you take pictures until the very last short performance but then of course everyone whips out their phones or cameras, so it looks a little cheesy. But I did it also! 😉
I started feeling weird at the end of the show, probably from being packed in the theater with so many people, and decided to stop back by my hotel, which was only a few short steps to get some water and freshen up before heading out for dinner. But when I went looking for the restaurant I had in mind, I felt worse not better. It was near 11, hot as hell and I gave up and told myself to just go back to the hotels and sleep. I’m not sure if it was the heat & not enough water, three weeks of no veggies (don’t even ask me the last time I ate something leafy was) , or just overall getting warn down but I was nauseous and light headed and the idea of alcohol and tapas did not sound good.
Tomorrow I had a pre booked 11:30 Acazar entrance ticket but after that I fully intended on coming back, napping more and taking it easy. I hated that this was happening in Seville, a town famous for how easy it was to fall in love with, but the month of travel was starting to have it’s affects.
Next day at the Alcazar:
It was interesting to see this after Granada, so I won’t bore you with too much of the history (and I’ve gotten some feedback that my blogs might have gotten a bit too… Ahem, dense?)
So,the highlights: it was built by the Moors in the 10th century,but adapted in the 14th century by the Christian conquerors. Alcazar is the oldest building in Europe that still functions as a royal palace.
It’s a fascinating mix of Islamic and Renaissance style, the invaders realizing the undeniable beauty and functionality but adding Christian embellishments and Renaissance influences the of the time.
The first Christian king to reside here, Pedro I, was in charge of some of the 1400’s restoration and in a typical story repeated a thousand times in history (eye roll), he left his wife and moved into the Alcazar with his mistress. So Typical. So the story goes that he “hired” (?) Muslim workers from Granada to emulate the romance of the Alahambra in the previous stark Alcazar.
In the throne room, the ceiling was Islamic symbolism: a square to represent the earth and the circle represented the heavens. But Pedro took it to mean he controlled heaven and earth. Ugh, privilege, amiright? Also, there are small steps in floor connecting adjoining rooms, so people would trip and stumble upon entering to meet King Pedro. That I think is kinda bad ass, tho. 😉
In Islamic Art, everything is symbolic. There are 5 pillars of Islam, so 5 colors were used in decoration (gold- charity, red-fasting, green- declaration of faith and white- prayer, and blue- water or the pilgrimage to Mecca. The shape on the bottom, that kind of looks like a pine tree, has 5 steps.. Or pillars of foundations.
(The art lesson ideas won’t stop coming…)
Once done on the base of the palace, you go up a floor and feel drastically changes. It’s here Charles V married Isabel, they forged the “new world” and we’re brought into a more modern interpretation of ‘palace.’ There are huge 18th century tapestries, and one was of a maps but was unfortunately perceived as upside down. It’s difficult to see, but that’s Africa on the top!
After that it’s more royal gardens, which seriously are never not stunning.
I went back to the hotel to rest up and get situated for tomorrow. Monday I had to check out at noon but my overnight bus to Portugal wasn’t until midnight. (Please someone write a song “Midnight Bus to Portugal” about me.)
I went on a walk but Sunday’s in Spain are rough. Everything is closed: stores, markets, restaurants and cafes. Plus it’s hot as hell. Have I mentioned that? I thought I would have learned this by now.
That evening I had the idea to take myself out for a little taperia crawl, to try and make up for the evening meal I missed the night before.
The first bar was Bar Alfalfa, an adorable neighborhood bar. It was offering paella on its tapa board, which the rule is you’re just always suppose to get when it’s fresh, and I wanted the ceviche. And Cava, obviously.
Two tapas is a lot for one person, and especially if I was trying to make this a crawl. But my eyes were bigger than my stomach, per usual. I tried to stretch my stay to over an hour tho.. (they also had free wifi!). The two cava, ceviche and paella came to €10.40.
The next bar, still full from my two courses, I wanted to just nurse a drink. An expert at this now, I bellied up and ordered “una cava.” The response came lengthy and I didn’t understand but after several go rounds of me trying to order, it became clear they only sold it by the bottle…. Where was Kelly when I needed her?! I ordered una tinta verana, my new drink, instead.
I arrived around 9, while the bar was empty, started sipping my drink and watched the bar full up until I was ready for a bite, so I ordered the quail eggs with ham, which I’d read about in reviews of this place.
Really, I just need to come back to Spain with other people so I can try more food. The gazpacho, pulpo (marinated octopus), and other dishes I saw go out looked so good!
It was around 9:45 and I was leaving just when things were hopping. But I wanted one more stop. It was dusk and I had heard about a hotel rooftop bar with amazing views of the cathedral. You pay about two times more for your drink, but with a view that was the only one of its kind.
There was one seat left at the edge so I unapologetically squeezed my way between two couples fawning over each other (one speaking French to and one Italian, I am not making this shit up) for the last seat facing the cathedral. There was a slight breeze, which was mostly lovely and only sometimes the wafted up the smell of horse poop from the square….
It was very romantic. Not in the “I wish Greg was here” way (I mean, I doooobut real talk, he would totally rather be at the packed tapas bar I just left), but more like, “I think I have a crush on this *country* romantic.
The sun was setting behind me and bats started flying around the bell tower that I would explore tomorrow.
It made me think about how travel has made me a better (Well and of course sometimes worse) version of myself. It would never occur to me to go to Seattle’s most scenic rooftop hotel bar and have a drink alone, even if I wanted to. And the amount of times I’ve told bartenders or servers that I was eating “sola” on this trip can probably out count the amount of times I’ve eaten out alone in my entire life so far.
What you have do when there’s just no other option is a confidence I don’t typically carry.
That night back at the whole I packed up and realized it was here I got to leave my Spain book behind! Rick would have been mad at me for even taking the whole booking this trip, saying I should have only ripped out the cities I was visiting and then discarded them as I went. I had been pulling out the sections as I needed for specific days (aka the Alcazar guide) so I didn’t have to carry the whole book around with me, so it had big chunks in it and was already worthless to donate to someone.
Monday, my last day in Seville I stayed in my hotel til near check out, packing up and relishing in the wifi and airconditioning. I was going to be free in the city until midnight, and while I could leave my luggage, it meant I wouldn’t have a place to come back to to rest or regroup or siesta.
I went out for a late traditional Spanish breakfast and I then wanted to get to the cathedral as it was my last day and had limited hours on Mondays.
Because I had already gone and seen the smaller church on the first day and had purchased the combo ticket, I didn’t have to wait in line to buy one. Let me tell you, the dirty looks you get as you walk seemingly undeservingly right past a line of people waiting in the hot sun were brutal- but it’s not my fault they didn’t do their research!
I walked straight past the line, and a guard even came rushing up. “Hola-” “¡Yo tengo una boleta!” “I have a ticket!” I said, waving it in the air like it was Golden and I was in Willy Wonka. (To be honest, I wasnt entirely sure if my combo ticket from two days ago would work- was it suppose to be for the same day? I figured I would play dumb.) But sure enough, he walked me right through to the entrance.
I swear to you, not standing in the 106 degree heat for even 10 minutes to buy a ticket was worth every penny of that $25 guide book.
Inside, my first thought was “OMG.”Then: “It’s like the Sagrada Familia! But… Older.”
The largest alter piece (65 feet hall, made of walnut and chestnut and covered in obscene amounts of gold leaf.) in the worled and the
7000 organ pipes, that would shatter windows of any smaller church are impressive regardless, maybe especially because!, of the age.
After the cathedral I wanted to go to the Plaza de España, some sort of town hall building surrounded by regal grounds that the ladies I met at the hotel bar last night told me were really lovely. It was. But honestly, when I got there I wasn’t really in the mood. It was so hot. How else to convey how hot it was? Blistering? Scorching? You get he idea. I was grumpy as fuck.
I was ready for my midday meal and headed back to my home turf area of the Santa Cruz barrio to find a tapas bar, and that meant back tracking across town in the scalding heat. But I did figure that the more I walked, the easier it would be for me to fall asleep on this overnight bus.
I found a place that was open and had a gazpacho and cod with garlic and it was so good! But now what?
It was only around 4 and I still had until around 8 to kill. At 8 I figured I would take a taxi to the bus station, hope for luggage locker, and then cross the river for dinner in Tirana, a neighborhood just across the way.
I felt I had seen the sights, and it was too hot to keep strolling the streets. I considered finding a Starbucks and camping out for the wifi and ac but what would Gloria say?
It was siesta time so every thing was closed and I didn’t have a hotel room. It was too hot to shop or drink. It was so hot that all I could think to do was to just sit in a dark room and stare at a wall. And so, that’s how I ended up watching “Inside Out”, dubbed in Spanish. It’s unintentionally becoming a sort traveling tradition! I remember when Ashlee and I saw a movie (Lilo and Stitch?) in Switzerland and were sooooo confused when the lights came on and everything stopped in the middle, because it turns out they are bad asses and have intermissions at their movies for bathrooms and snacks!
It was another fun experience for me in Spain. I understood enough of the movie (I literally both laughed AND cried!) and realized it was probably how much of my students watch movies, understanding the gist but missing some of the lines.
After the lights came up and I had to face the heat again, I went back, picked up my luggage and went to the bus station. I put my luggage in a locker, crossed a river to Tirana and found a restaurant on the main drag, so I could people watch and leisurely eat dinner with enough time to go back to board the bus.
I had always wanted to come to Spain and now I had done it on my own. I felt satisfied but also like I would come back tomorrow if I could.