Day 08 - Friday, March 31, 2017 - Day on Our Own; Optional Tour of Seville; Dinner of Tapas
The roosters of Andalusia woke us up at 7:00 as the sun was just peeking over the horizon. With our long day, late night, and the time change, we could have used a few more winks this morning.
We gathered at 9:00 to walk out of the fortress to the bus and greet Luis who drove us to Seville. The day featured an optional tour and everyone joined the side trip.
The morning was crisp with temperatures of 47 degrees. The air was less humid so our hand laundry was dry overnight. We met our local guide, Pablo at the Golden Tower for a tour through the old town.
Seville has been the subject of many operas, the locations for many films, and known for flamenco and bull fighting. We saw the tobacco factory where "Carmen" worked. Seville hosts many opera houses that remind us of our friend Marvin, the Opera Guru.
The Guadalquivir River connects the city to the Atlantic and from there to everywhere on the Mediterranean Sea. Early navigators and traders from all over the world knew Seville as the most important interior port of Spain and the pinnacle of commercial activity in Europe.
Seville had a monopoly on all resources from the New World until the 1700's. The tobacco exported from the new world and very popular in Europe in the 15th century all came through Seville. Now part of the university, the tobacco factory displays the wealth of the trades from the Americas.
We drove through the beautiful neighborhood built for the Exposition of 1929, the Plaza de España. We got off the bus and Pablo gave us until 11:00 to take a few photos and marvel at the exquisite architecture and decorative tiles with blue and white ceramic railings on the stairways.
At 11:15 we said goodbye to Luis and the bus and headed out on foot to take advantage of another beautiful day in Spain. We walked through the Gardens of Murillo where the impressive monument to Columbus's first voyage to the New World greeted us as we entered the gates.
We followed the ancient Arabic walls of the El Alcázar Palace that we had visited the last time we were in Seville. Continuing our walk through the Barrio de Santa Cruz, we had time for a restroom stop and an ice cream.
In this small park we saw the grave of Murillo, a simple wrought iron structure remembering the famous painter. We caught a glimpse of the Royal Palace of Seville, filmed in the Game of Thrones to represent Thor's Palace.
Our main mission this morning was to see the famous Cathedral of Seville. The cathedral opened late today, but we were the second group in line to enter the building. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Seas is still the largest Gothic cathedral and one of the most impressive churches in the world.
Like many of the first Christian churches it was built on the site of a 12th century mosque. Because we were one of the first to enter the church we went straight to the Altar Mayor.
The largest altar of gold in the world, it contains over 1,000 kilograms of gold, 90% coming from the New World. Another beautiful secondary altar claims to have 300 kilograms of silver. The paintings and other early artifacts gave this cathedral a wealth of treasures.
New DNA evidence now confirms that the tomb of Christopher Columbus inside the church really does contain his remains. Columbus died in Spain but requested that his body was to be buried in the Dominican Republic. The relics were then taken to Cuba but after Cuba’s independence they were moved back to Spain.
An earthquake in 1356 destroyed the majority of the cathedral except for the tower that was a minaret during the Muslin times. After the tour we thanked Pablo and chose to climb to the top of the tower for fantastic views of the city below.
The 12th century tower still has the original ramp going up 35 levels so that the muezzin, the man who sings the call to prayer, could ride his donkey to the top of the minaret.
We left the cathedral at 1:30 to walk along the small side streets and enjoy the ambiance of the vibrant city. Rikardo gave us until 3:30 so we had plenty of time to have lunch and window shop.
We found Ismael’s Kebabs on a small side street that was just opening for the day. Even though his suppliers were still bringing in the produce for the day, the owner Odae from Jordan served us a delightful lunch of a chicken and lamb wrap. And we thought we did not like lamb – his creation was fantastic!
We met our group at 3:30 and had time to walk to the Bull Ring, another of Seville’s major attractions. Luis was able to make a brief stop on the busy avenue and we hopped in for an hour‘s ride back to Carmoma and our fortress on the top of the hill.
Everyone met again at 7:30 for a five-minute walk to Molino de la Romera for a tapas dinner. “What are tapas?” you query… The research says that:
Tapas are a wide variety of appetizers, or snacks, in Spanish cuisine. Small in size but full of flavor, tapas offer diners the chance to explore myriad dishes without feeling stuffed. There are a huge variety of savory, sweet, and spicy tapas to taste across Spain.
Accommodations: Parador de Carmona Hotel - - - Meal: B & D
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