(This is being posted today 4/12/18; I arrived in my Granada hotel around midday and found WordPress works from here, so I am guessing that my access problem must have been the Seville hotel’s problem. Now, over the next few days, I plan to gradually try and catch you up on all the gorgeous things I have seen. This blog post is a long one and so you may need to check at the bottom whether you need to extend to read it all. Back to the 1st when I arrived in Seville …)
A glorious day today in so many ways. Fog had softened Cordoba on my first morning before burning off and presenting a gorgeous day, but this morning the sky was clear, and the cold autumn sun blasted the city. Sparkling.
My day started when I left colourful Cordoba gently without a rush. As I walked to the train station, with the possum on my head, I passed dozens of thickly dressed against the cold- Lycra cladded cyclists going off for their Saturday morning rides. Wandered through small shops and was surprised to see eucalypt honey as a local speciality. Found a salad at the railway station for breakfast and fresh squeezed real orange juice. Typical of the 45-minute train trip were the hills of orange trees complete with thousands of orange dots. Undulations across the landscape covered with the trees and the dots. Rural, green, luscious. Passed by lots of villages and towns; the flat block white walls of the houses gleaming in the hard light of the morning sun, and a single church block spire could usually be seen poking up from in the centre of the clusters. Are the palm trees date palms I wondered?
Into the massive Seville train station. Into my biggest challenge of all this trip and one which had kept me awake for some time last night. Before I left Tasmania, I booked this small Elvira Hotel located on the edge of Dona Elvira Plaza in the old town of Seville because I wanted to savour a ‘real’ place, and because I wanted to be close to my ‘target’ for this city – the ancient Real Alcazar (Royal Palace). I had accepted it would be too far to walk from the train station with luggage, and certainly over cobbled walkways, but I thought that after being much travelled I would take it all in my stride.
In the last couple of days, I learnt that the lanes and streets near the hotel are so narrow and angled and winding that buses or taxis are unable to enter. At a point you must walk to reach the hotel. How would I find it? My recent experience of getting lost and walking in wrong directions made me sure that I could lose myself in the mazes of old city lanes.
Last night I studied and restudied and then looked again at Google maps to see where a taxi could drop me off, and then to memorise the streets between that point and the hotel. However, because the streets and lanes are so narrow you cannot pick them from Google maps/Google earth. But it worked out. The taxi dropped me at the Plaza Santa Cruz, the driver pointed me in the direction and I plunged on.Surprisingly, the distances are so small, and about 5 minutes or so later I was in the Dona Elvira Plaza and in the hotel foyer. The walk had been pretty, and uneventful. I read that I had then to walk to another hotel to book in but a minute or so down another lane and I was there. Greeted with big smiles and welcomed. Would I like to try a local specialty; orange wine. Its only 11.45am but well – yes, I would. So, with glass in hand, and with the receptionist dragging my suitcase we returned to my hotel, and my room was ready. Open and spacious, at ground floor level, with windows out onto the Plaza with its orange trees, and café tables with their white table cloths. A large, fresh-cut red carnation in the desk vase. Flowers everywhere. Stunningly beautiful. The grated window at the bottom left of door is the window of my room.
With map in hand I headed off through a maze of lanes and mini plazas to familiarise myself with the entrance for the Alcazar, ready for my visit on Monday, and then I wandered. Despite encountering lane clogging guided tours, I loved the look and feel of everything I encountered.
I entered through a gate to find another orangerie.
As usual I looked through every open door.
When I found a tourism office, I was given a 2 x A4 page list of churches and their opening times and entrance costs. Inwardly I slumped. I didn’t want to see another church. Please not another church. I asked if there were special events or festivals occurring over the next few days. Hesitantly the information officer told me about a Gastronomic Fair. Now that sounds like my sort of thing, I thought immediately. I thanked her and wandered off, eventually arriving at that Fair but not before passing an assortment of grand buildings that I declined to enter, including a massive central church with its flying buttresses, and a market in Christmas nativity paraphernalia.
At the Fair I sampled olives in different marinating juices, honey mixed with other ingredients (eg pumpkin in honey), and many different fresh pressed olive oils and they were all wonderful. I could have sampled ‘jamons’ and other meats and cheeses and wines but left that to others who were partaking generously.
Loved the look of this corner.Time for lunch and I stopped nearby at a white clothed outdoor table and ordered small plates of a variety of items in tapas style; but each were huge and, as usual, I couldn’t eat them all. Potato was one of two vegetables involved. Alas. Enjoyed the gratis tuna and potato dish with some vinaigrette and chives.Loved the aubergine chips (had to come fried) with the salmarejo (a type of cold tomato soup).And the octopus with potato and paprika were tasty.Sat there for ages, chatting with a Dutch couple who had flown down for a weekend away from wintery Amsterdam weather (they tell me that winter officially starts on Dec 21st. Perhaps it is time we changed our seasonal dates as well) and enjoyed watching the passing crowd. These included the well dressed, heeled and hatted guests off to a wedding. My second wedding party for the day. The first earlier had looked very high society but the guests for this second one also looked classy. Years have passed since I attended a wedding. I wonder how Australians dress for these occasions? Invasively, I took photos.
At some point it was all too much, and I easily found my way back to the hotel and slept and slept and slept. Tapping out this post now and then will sleep some more.
(Lodging this story onto the blog and seeing the photos again makes me realise how much I walked and rewalked these areas over the days I spent in Seville, and how familiar it all seems now.)