Friday, July 3, 2009

Buenos dias Sevilla!

...tidbit in Sevilla...

For Day 5 and previous days click here.
Day 6 (Tuesday) – Sevilla

Rise and shine!
It was time for breakfast and on the menu was a nice buffet with some eggs, meat, cheese, granola, orange juice, bread, toast (the ususal). There was a good amount of food and tasted pretty good. We then met up with the others in the bus, where we headed out for a day in Sevilla. We saw all the pavilions from the 1929 international fair “La Exposición Iberoamericana”, where former colonies of Spain represented their cultures by constructing a building to showcase their culture in. Also in the same area is one of my favorite squares, the Plaza de España. I really love this plaza; it really encompasses what Spain is today. There, every region of the country is represented in a tile mosaic. Also, the building that was built for this purpose is quite impressive and gorgeous. We even found out that it was used in one of the new Star Wars movies. This plaza is a place where I could sit in for hours, just relaxing and admiring.

The next stop of the tour was the barrio of Santa Cruz. This is the medieval Jewish quarter, east of the Cathedral. This section is full of history and beauty dating back centuries. Navigating this section can be a little tricky, since the streets are small and twisting, one false turn and you could end up being lost. I love this barrio because around every other corner there is either a beautiful little square or a well decorated building or something of interest.

As the morning tour was ending, we arrived at the Cathedral, and it was time to make a decision. We were going to have some free time. I told Nic that I wanted to see where I used to live and on the way there would be some good sights as well, plus it wasn’t very far from the Cathedral. So off we went. I lead them to the “Torre del Oro” a beautiful watch tower that is situated next to the river. We sat on a bench by the tower and enjoyed some Casatiello which Felicetta had brought from Italy with her on the trip. It was a delicious piece of bread, and all I could think about was how good of a sandwich it would make. We crossed the bridge and headed toward my former palace. After two more corners, we came upon the “Hotel Resi-Tur”… Funny how a lot of the downtown corridor had changed and updated, but looking at my former residence, I couldn’t believe it, but it was the same. Exactly! If I was there 15 years ago, I can only imagine that the inside is still the same. I guess some things don’t change!

After getting my photo snapped, we headed back over the bridge and back to the Cathedral. I think there was one thing I forgot to say and that has to do with the weather. For being late April, the temperature was gorgeous. We left cloudy, rainy Seattle, and now we were standing in 85+ degrees weather. It was absolutely perfect, a slight breeze, the sun beating down. I remember walking to class every day and saying to myself, “This is so sunny and beautiful here and it’s only 9 am”. I’m glad that didn’t change!

Once we were at the Cathedral, the line to get in was short, so we decided to go in. We explored inside looking at all of the altars and side rooms, it is so big and so beautiful. I am still in awe of the work that went into making it this grand. After we were done looking around it was time to climb “La Giralda” (the mosque tower that they converted into the bell tower). Up we went in a square-circle. The numbers were getting bigger, but we didn’t know what the last number would be. So, we kept climbing. After we hit 24 I knew we had to be close and we were. It was a stunning view from the top. Every direction showed a panoramic view of the city. It was a definite must for anyone who visits Sevilla.

Once we were done climbing back down, it was time for some food. I had remembered, from my college days, this great restaurant around the corner that had a wonderful dogfish dish. So, we went out to search for it. We did find the restaurant, but there was no dogfish on the menu. Instead we tried an assortment of tapas and of course we drank “Cruzcampo” beer. It definitely hit the spot on a warm day.

At lunch, we tried the grilled octopus with paprika. The octopus was very nicely cooked. We also had to have our puntillitas (the deep fried little squids). Those were so tasty! Another fried fish we needed was the boquerones fritos. These little white anchovies were delicious and fell off the bone. Not too much work considering that they were the whole fish. We also ordered beregenas tapadas, which were eggplants stuffed with veggies and béchamel, croquetas de carne (meat and béchamel croquettes), salmorejo (similar to gazpacho topped with ham, eggs, and tuna), and to finish it off, a codfish fritter. All in all, I had an excellent meal that took me back 15 years to when I ate there before and as always, I was ready for a nap. It is time for us to head back to the hotel for a little rest before we go out for the evening.

Evening comes quick when you are on a schedule. After our siesta, we met up with the group and headed to the flamenco show. When we arrived we were treated to a drink and a fabulous show of stomping feet and clapping hands. The whole vibe of flamenco is extremely addictive. The beats of the instruments, the clapping of the hands (as an instrument) and the singing create a very passionate experience. These performers were some of the best in Sevilla. Our guide was telling us that at this time of the year, the flamenco tour companies take a break and all of the dancers, singers, etc. need to make extra money so, they do these nightly shows in Andalucia. We received a treat with such great talent. It was well worth the visit. It was time we headed back to the hotel for another great meal.

After dinner, Nic and I went for a walk around the Plaza de Alfalfa on the hunt to find one of the cheesiest bars in all of Sevilla. Of course, it was a long time ago when I was there, so I had to ask directions on where it was. Finally, we arrived at “Garlochi”, only to find that it was closed. Too late on a weekday, I guess. What a disappointment. Luckily Nic got to see what I was talking about. This bar hosts the theme of “Semana Santa” or Holy Week. Everything in here has some iconoclastic motif, from the bed of plastic roses where the Virgin Mary stands, to the velvet wall coverings with religious overtones. I think this place is truly a gem, for its kitsch factor. Rarely do you run across something so full of tackiness, which makes it worth the time. Next time I make it to Sevilla, I will treat Nic to his first specialty cocktail from Garlochi, the legendary “Sangre de Cristo” (since we couldn’t try it this time). There is always next time, and speaking of tomorrow is another 7 am morning as we head off to Granada… stay tuned….

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