Sevilla

Days: 10-11 (14 March 2017 – 15 March 2017)

Total distance travelled: 19,257.67 kilometres (11,961.30 miles)

Late.

That was our arrival into Sevilla.

We’d investigated overland options, however a flight, with our tight-ish schedule was ultimately the only option, the frustrating part being that it was a late departure from Lisbon, and therefore an even later time in which we touched back down in Spain.

As such, by the time we’d extricated ourselves from the airport, a taxi downtown became a necessity as by now, it was well after midnight.

Never really our preferred option, the outlay became a practical need, as the reality of finding an airport bus service (we’re unsure any were still even running at that hour), then navigating our way through dark streets in search of our lodging was not something we really wanted to face.

As it was, even our taxi was only able to take us relatively close, as Pension Nuevo Suizo was actually tucked away off pedestrian only streets.

We’d checked in advance that it (our late arrival) would be no issue, however it was still quite a relief when we finally found it, tucked away as it was in a narrow alley, and also found it to still be open and we were able to check in and conclude a very long day!

Dry, but overcast was the day to which we woke for our first day proper in Andalusian Spain.

I say it was our first full day (which is correct), but more importantly we had planned to travel on Cordoba the next, so we only had today to explore the city and its various UNESCO World Heritage sites (yes, we were keen on them again, and Sevilla had three of them all in relatively close proximity… well more aptly, the three in close proximity formed the listing).

First however, we took a wander (as ever, we were exploring by foot) to the well regarded Plaza de España, and in no time at all, we were not only there, but in that brief distance the grey clouds had also broken and it was a lovely, sun filled morning!

To put the compact nature of this historical centre into context, we’d walked little more than 3 kilometres (if we’d gone directly from our hotel, it is actually 2.3km, but we tend to go off on tangents), and between that distance we’d also passed the famous Catedral de Sevilla and the Real Alcázar, two thirds of the UNESCO listing!

I’m sure it would have been a beautiful spot, even under the dull skies with which our morning had begun, but with the sunshine and blue sky, it was now truly stunning!

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Inadvertently indulging in my passion for Star Wars at the Plaza de España

People cruised by on bicycles, others strolled around like us, and if we were so inclined, we could have even hired a horse and carriage!

There was even the odd wedding party capturing photos with the stunning backdrop.

Despite it all, there was something familiar about the place, despite me definitely never having been there.

Turns it it’s also a location that’s been used in many movies, but the one that caused it to stick in my mind was the second of the Star Wars prequels, Attack of the Clones.

Aside from feeling like I was suddenly on the planet of Naboo, we took time exploring an attached museum (full of armour, weapons, etc), but it was the ornately decorated plaza itself that stole the show.

A vast array of coloured, many painted, tiles created the beautiful setting, and set within a vast array of niches or alcoves sat scenes depicting events in history. Apparently one for every province of the country.

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Many tiled alcoves, one for each province in Spain apparently!

It was with surprise that I later read it had only been constructed in the 1920’s and not three, four or even eight hundred years ago!

We meandered our way back towards the cathedral, surprised at the amount of people (tourists) in the city given the time of year, most of them seemingly in and out of the city in mass groups and by the busload (mostly Asian in origin).

A touch of the scaffold curse struck us again on the exterior, so we made our entrance and my god (the expression of shock, not a sudden belief in any deity) was it cold in there!

The vast cavernous space, despite the groups milling about, was all stone and marble with flashes of gold, none of it however generated any warmth.

Touches of it were indeed beautiful, but with all that gold it was a bit garish as well, and the hordes of people were pressed up against the metal bars that separated us from the valuable relics of the church.

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Looking up to find beauty inside the Catedral de Sevilla (this way you can avoid seeing the crowds)

It was quite the relief when we were done and back outside once more in the sunshine.

The Real Alcázar was our next goal, however before we’d brave more of the crowds, it was time for a quick feed and the chance to sample a couple of local brews.

Refreshed, the crowds in fact turned out to be one long queue, where despite the time of year, the sun felt hot indeed, any residual morning cool now long gone as the cobbled streets now simply reflected the heat back upon us.

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Refueling (left) & Feeling the heat, despite the season (right)

Eventually, we got inside and our explorations of the Real Alcázar (royal palace Alcázar  of Seville) could now begin.

Beautifully manicured gardens within fresco laden courtyards.

Impressive tapestries inside long, mosaic lined halls.

Arched and columned niches.

It was really a delight of a place (dotted with fruit laden orange trees as well)!

Sure, we could have enlisted a guide, or paid for an audio device to learn a little more of the history as we wandered, but if you’ve followed our travels at all, you’d know that’s rarely our style.

We sought the areas that were a little less crowded, that we could enjoy in a bit more peace and to ourselves, and it was in the gardens that we found this.

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The stunning Real Alcázar

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Beautifully manicured gardens…

It’s not that they were particularly empty, but rather the space that they afforded, gave us more room to explore and the feeling that we weren’t sharing the place with the huge queue in which we’d waited.

We very much enjoyed the views of the garden that could be taken if one climbed the stairs and walked the covered hallways that skirt its fringes, and there sat below us was something pretty unusual.

Restored in more modern times, the Fuente de la Fama (Source, or Font of Fame) is not entirely unique, but it’s certainly one of the few we’ve ever encountered (if I recall correctly, there was one on the shores of Split, Croatia, but it harnessed the power of the tides and waves).

This was an hydraulic water organ, and at set times throughout the day, the waters that course through its pipes, play lyrical tunes for waiting listeners.

It was if nothing else, something a little bit different!

Nearby, the baths (or was it a cistern?) gave us pause for reflection, or at least some nice photos and most of the adjacent rooms were adorned with stunning ceilings, very Moorish in design, but beautiful despite the repetition.

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The sort of beauty you’d expect in any Moorish palace

After having explored to our hearts content, we concluded in the company of peacocks (literally, as there were several strutting about) tracing our way through the gardens hedge maze, which have been challenging had we been several feet shorter and the hedging a little thicker.

Still, it was a bit of fun on which to finish.

We enjoyed a few lazy afternoon beers back in our room to while away the afternoon, before heading back out once the sun had set to assess the cities evening lighting budget.

The cathedral wasn’t too exciting, but the Plaza de España was indeed something much better.

Not only were the buildings lit up in all their glory, the flowing fountains waxed between colours, from blues, to purples to reds.

Try as we might to dine later like the locals, we simply couldn’t hold out, and so it was that we shortly after found ourselves ordering another early meal.

At least it was all delicious!!

Once again, as the local populace was likely ready to consider their dining options in an hour or so, there were were, making ready to pay our dinner bill and retire for the evening…

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The south tower of the plaza at night (left) & Eating like locals… except we’re ready for bed before they’re even ready to eat! (right)

 

 

 

Notes:

* Our flight from Lisbon to Sevilla was with TAP Portugal and cost… actually, I have no idea (we’ve since lost the receipt)!!

* An after midnight taxi from the airport to an area near our hotel (it couldn’t get to our door) cost us €27.00.

We paid €9.00 each for entrance into Sevilla’s Cathedral Saint Mary of the See, while a further €9.50 got us into the Real Alcazar. 

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