Robert Frost

The best way out is always through.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Seville, Spain (June 6, 2008) Hot and Fabulous Day 8!

Buenos Dias Espana. I remember I awoke first of everyone (a very rare thing in my life especially without an alarm clock). I particularly recall there being a cool breeze from the open windows, and nary a sound or movement in the apartment or on the street below at 8AM. I lingered in bed. What was I going to do, wake my hosts or scavange in the kitchen? If I was the kind of person who relished an early morning run, this would have been ideal, but what did I do? I lingered until 8:45 am and starting getting our things (ie mine, Sophia and everyone's various articles) together. Around 9am or so, everyone starting rousing and shuffling around. Happily Sophia and Ben entertained each other while we breakfasted on cereal and yogurt. What was on the agenda? Well a treat for me (burden for Adam and Ale though) was that the Spain days were organized and guided by Adam and Ale. I am better with Spanish than French but here I also was granted a reprieve from being the group translator and leader. And it was a delicious time for me to simply follow our kind and educated guides around their adopted hometown. First was a 30 minute bus ride to central Seville (the oldest part) and to the Seville Cathedral.
As we walked from the bus stop to the Cathedral I reflected on this similar stroll I took with Ale in 2001. How the combo of the busy streets with cars and people, the dry heat and the historic architecture was all seemingly the same. With the added plus this time of street performers playing flamenco music while an adept dancer moved to the sounds in her colorful flowing dress and Spanish style appearance. Upon a closer look I notice she was Asian and Ale then commented that some of the dance students from the local performance school make some extra money for the day performing in the tourist area. I wanted to cross the street and watch awhile but here is the rub, with a family of 5, especially a toddler included: you keep moving even when there are things you really want to see, because you just don't know when it will have to come to a stop to accommodate our littlest trooper. Plus David and the girls get a little embarassed when I stop at performers or stop to clap and tip them. So instead, on to the Cathedral with the sounds of Spanish strumming surrounding us. Ah Espana.

It is funny to think that there was a longish line to buy tickets into the Cathedral. But, hey, they have to keep up the 0ver 600 year old building somehow. I can't describe how it took the breath away to look up, up, and up the tall sculpted columns to the gothic ceiling. As our eyes grew accustomed to the dimness (high ceilings and only a few stain glass windows equals dimness) all around us we could see the larger than life religious statuary and frescoes that rose upwards. This Catholic church that still holds services also hold a few remarkable characteristics: 1. Above see the gold, yes, gold, altarpiece that has scenes out of the gospels was supposedly built with the gold of the New World for Seville to show Spain's power to the world, 2. Below, are the bones of Christopher Columbus (supposedly) and the four pallbearers are symbolic of the four dominant regions of Spain at the time,

3. Seville Cathedral is the 3rd largest in the world, behind the Vatican, and St. Paul's Cathedral in London. After taking the Rick Steves guided tour of the Cathedral, (quickly) David and the girls went up the Giralda (bell tower) and took this pic of old town Seville. Where we were headed next. I waited with Adam and Ale while Sophia and Ben enjoyed each others company. Ale and I were roomies in college and a couple of years into our work lives after college when we lived in Austin. I can remember how we shared our hopes and prayers for the husbands and families we now have. Throughout this time together in Spain I reflected on those early hopes, and each time I could only thank the Lord for his amazing answer to prayers and the plans He still has for us. Once David and the girls joined us it was on to visit the nearby Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old Jewish Quarter). From my first visit to this one, this area of Seville, to me, is a bit magical and dreamy. The city sounds that surround you near the cathedral quickly fall away and even in the heat (near 110 degrees) the narrow walkways of this old neighborhood become cooler. The walkways are like a maze (called kissing lanes, because they seem so close the buildings nearly kiss, or for some other reasons, I guess) and built closely so the buildings' heighths can shade strollers from the strong Spanish sun. But the intricate weaving of the walkways and sometimes roadways, the lightposts, the colorful splashes of hanging plants, the hidden courtyards that open up as you turn a corner, the surprising small plazas with trickling fountains, cafes, and artesian shops selling Spanish fans, hand molded painted pottery, and flamenco dresses, etc tumbles you into a feel of true Spain. Bold, romantic, and alive. The girls had no preconceived ideas about Spain. For them it was simply time away from France where we were going to visit my friends. But I think at this point, even in the heat, they delighted in the discovery of a pretty fascinating city and culture.
Then we did them one better. We were hungry and it was time for TAPAS. When I visited in 2001 and first had Spanish Tapas, there was no such animal in my area of the US yet. About two years later, tapas were known as the appetizer-as-meal food sensation stateside. When I went in 2001, it was a food revelation to me. We would just pay about $3 for a drink, and either South Spain favorite "tinto de verano" (a very refreshing sangria like concoction), or a shandy (beer lemonade) was my choice and then an array of very tasty nibbles (tomato salad, small sandwices "bocadillos" that we would probably call sliders, olives, fried calamari, etc) were presented along with the drinks on small plates at no extra charge. The sweet idea being that the more you nibbled the more you drank.

This time around, Ale and Adam took us to their favorite tapas bar that during the day was frequented by locals and families. Here you see Ben nearly crying because he can't reach the small plate of Paella (oh, this was achingly delicious). He loves his food. Adam thoughtfully ordered us a wide selection of tapas that included small plates of fish, veggies, fries, rices, calamari, chicken with different sauces, and more. Here is where the girls truly found out that they liked exploring the world of Spanish food. Yes, at this point even more than world renowned French food. We were hooked.
The best souvenir shopping was to be had in this neighborhood. Now don't get me wrong, I love cheezy Eiffel Tower keychains, and made in China I love London t-shirts bought in their particular countries as much as the next gal but in Seville you can find, for surprisingly reasonable prices, artist made pottery, jewelry, fans and shawls that are made and sold authentically Spanish. Here the girls are taking a rest from our shopping/tapas crawl near one of the delightful fountains. Ah Espana.
Next, we walked over the the Plaza Espana that is colorfully tiled and bricked in artistic and eye appealing patterns. A great photo op for the girls and their newly purchased fans. It is a tourist draw but not teaming with history as one would think because it is a baby in European history, only 100 year old or so. It was built for some kind of World Exposition/Fair.

Boy, was it hot. And our feet were feeling the heat through the soles of our shoes. We bussed it back to the apartment and picked up some pizza fixin's for our dinner. Sara modeled her find of the day, a Spanish-style dress (yes, the made in China variety, only $10!) As dinner was being prepared Anna helped me hang our clothes to dry on the apartment roof top's permanent lines. The laundry demanded to be done and this task gave us a nice view of Seville around us. Again here I will state that the girls were always jumping in to help and good sports throughout our trip. We relaxed in wonderful hospitality ala Adam and Ale, and called it a night around 10ish.

1 comment:

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Hi Jenny, as I have only just found your blog, I am taking slow read through it. Wow Seville seems amazing. I have never been there,only to Barcelona, which I thought was brilliant, with great architecture, Parcs, Markets and the sea. Thanks for sharing, and I will be back soon.

Oh yes meant to say Tongue in Cheeks blog is superb isn't it?


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