Best of Spain

Day 14 – September 17, 2004 - Seville Sightseeing & At Leisure

We were able to get up a little later than usual as we have our second day in Sevilla - Seville. Unfortunately, my internal alarm had me up by 7 AM and we were done with the showers by the time the wake-up call arrived.

We went down for breakfast and it was another very good one with a large number of selections, the chef making omelets and pancakes to order. After breakfast we returned to our room and worked on organizing the pictures and sorting.

At 7:45 we went down to the lobby and greeted everyone and went off on our morning excursion. This morning we drove through the tree-lined streets of Seville with our local guide, Angela. She gave us an extensive sightseeing tour and told us of the Expo in 1992 which celebrated the 500th Anniversary of Columbus’ first voyage to America.

We were able to cross the Guadalquivir River several times on beautiful, functional bridges that are works of art decorating the city. This area was first settled by the Phoenicians and then the Romans who founded the first city out side of Italy here close to Seville.

We passed La Plaza de Toros - one of the largest and most renowned Bull Rings in the world. Matadors come from all over the world to fight the bulls here in April for a week during their city festival.

Even though Seville is over 60 K from the coast, ships are still able to navigate on this river, one of the few in Spain. Columbus, Magellan, and all of the historical explorers lived here and prepared for their voyages from this area as Ferdinand and Isabella often stayed here in one of their Royal Palaces.

We visited the Plaza de Americas built by each of the countries in the New World for the 1929 Expo. They are beautiful, ornate buildings, now housing offices, consulates, and professional buildings.

We had our group photo taken at one of these buildings and then walked through the gardens of the Palace. We saw a statue honoring Christopher Columbus.

We also trekked through the Santa Maria District, the former Jewish Quarter before 1492. This was completely renovated after the Christian conquest for palaces and large villas for the wealthy traders of that era. During the 16th & 17th centuries, Seville was one of the richest cities of the world.

Angela took us to a small dead end street in the old city where we stopped at two gift shops that had two small rest rooms. We had 20 minutes to shop at these “approved” shopping areas - talk about a captive audience. Most resisted the temptation at these high priced stores.

Our next stop was the beautiful Cathedral of Seville built in the 1400s and we were given the history of the church and then we saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus. The church is enormous, much larger than St. Peters in Rome with very high vaulted ceilings, solid gold altar - gold that was brought from the Americas.

The church was very crowded with many of us trying to get a photo of the casket carried by 4 larger than life statues, representing the 4 Kingdoms of Spain. There is controversy over the exact whereabouts of his remains, as the Dominican Republic still claims he is there as does Cuba.

We were released for the rest of the day for sightseeing on our own. We chose to climb the Moorish Bell Tower and weather vane of the Giralda, which is 34 ramps up to the top. There were no stairs as it was originally used by the men who played the bells who rode their donkeys up to the top. The climb up was steep and tough to do, but the walk down was worse on the muscles of our knees!

We found an internet and Gennie was able to do a few catch up transactions for her UOP classes and get her grades posted. I had brought the disk and memory stick so I was able to get yesterday’s journal out.

Our hotel has internet in the rooms, but it is not working - tough to find service here! We passed the city government center and saw all of the taxis of the city parked on the main street!

They were protesting something to do with safety in the city and we left there as one of the men told us that it might get violent. We will have to watch the news as the TV cameras were there and the riot police were ready if needed.

We decided to walk back to our hotel, about 3 miles through all sort of small streets and alleys. Interesting to see school get out and the primary students being “picked up” by their parents who then walk them home.

We saw people eating lunch on park benches, one group of three laborers who were eating bocadillos and saluting Gennie and I with their beer. As we walked we noticed that several of the outdoor thermometers were showing the temperature as 35 degrees centigrade. Yes, 100 fahrenheit. We tried to stay on the shady side of the street and looked for an internet location closer to the hotel. Looks like the closest is a 20 minute walk.

At 7 PM tonight we left to go on a Guadalquivir River Cruise through the Expo 92 sites. We enjoyed a leisurely cruise along the Guadalquivir River with its spectacular modern bridges, its new (12 years old) Expo buildings and Cartuja Island.

After the cruise we went to have a “TAPAS” dinner and sangria. Tapas is a Spanish finger food that is served at local bars for lunch and “happy hour”. Unlike the US, there is a charge for each item they serve. One pays for the items on the plate. I am surprised that this concept has not caught on in the US.


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