Started leisurely and waited in the hotel foyer for the free-tour walking guide to arrive.
We headed off and she gathered people as we walked through areas I had walked yesterday, until we reached the river which I had not yet seen. We passed the tower pictured below which is the remains of a wall along the banks of the river to repel invaders in the 16th and 17th centuries when Seville was ‘the’ port in Spain. When Cadiz took over as the chief port in the 18th century, and before people thought in terms of ‘heritage’ values, most of the wall was torn down.Finally, we had gathered all those joining the tour together and went off to a quiet courtyard to start the tour. We stood for 20 minutes as the guide explained the importance of the river to Seville’s history and the general history of this city since. My coughing was rather alarming to some, and that factor, the standing, and the fact that I was getting colder by the moment, made me decide to go in the opposite direction when they headed off. I have given a lot of thought to how to provide a tour with large group numbers, and I realise that finding spaces in a busy city where many can stand at one moment and hear is a challenge. I don’t think standing for long periods is an interesting thing to do and downright uncomfortable after a while. So, I have been disappointed with all but the first free walking tour I did in Barcelona.
I am interested in costume and had a timetable indicating when the museum would be open. 15 minutes or so later I was outside a shut museum.
There is a continuing story here during my Spanish travels; you cannot trust the printed word put out by information/tourism offices or on brochures. I was most disappointed by this because I didn’t have a plan B. I looked around and decided to walk along the river edge; passed a healthy stand of eucalypt trees.
Crossed the river and watched lots of rowers, before reaching a pod of tennis courts.
I wandered through the suburb of Triana thinking that perhaps I might get breakfast. I wandered along a variety of streets with genuine locals, some rushing to church (there are always churches – heavens what else is there to see?), and few obvious tourists.
Found a shop selling Flamenco dresses, so studied these closely.
At one café I purchased a fresh squeezed orange juice and a cup of tea – since leaving home I haven’t had a good tasty cup and that includes the Ponant tea options as well. This café had lots of locals coming in and out and I found people watching interesting.
I continued wandering and later I saw the remains of a man’s breakfast – scrambled eggs and beans. Right oh. I sat down. By the time the waitress came she told me that Desayuno was over and that his food was no longer served. Right I said – what can you offer me that has no pan, no queso, no pollo, no carne, and definitely no jamon. She pointed at an eggs and potato and ham dish on the menu. Can I have tomato instead of the ham. Yes. This is exasperating. There are green vegetables to be bought in the supermarkets why aren’t they served in the restaurants. Mostly it is fried food or ham that is on offer. Muy mal! What did I get? A bowl of cooked potato chips without crispness, covered with three soft fried eggs edged with the slices of one uncooked tomato.I saw the famous Triana food Mercado and went in – ready to see top level produce. Being Sunday, many stalls weren’t open. But I found it interesting that groups of friends were in there (and elsewhere on the streets) sharing plates of prawns. An interesting Sunday tradition for some maybe.
When I walked out, more colourful tiled pictures were up the stairs. I had been in the Castillo de Jorge.
During the walk I saw more colourfully tiled entrances.
I ambled along to the Bull Ring ‘hearing’ there was not a bull fight scheduled. Thankfully (I saw one in Mexico in the mid-70s and don’t need to see another). I wasn’t interested to tour the interior or to browse through the museum, but I did enjoy walking around the exterior and admiring the Spanish Baroque appearance of the building.
Then I found a shop which was open and selling Flamenco dancing shoes, clothes and other paraphernalia.
Elsewhere, sweet smelling spices lured my nose.I came across an antique shop specialising in centuries-old Spanish ceramic ware.I returned to the old city side of the river, and fairly close to my hotel saw three different cafes offering vegetarian and/or vegan food. So, one of those will be my destination tonight.
Solving the problem of no access to WordPress is a real worry. I have worked on this for the past couple of hours and while I now have full internet access to every other site again, WordPress for my blogs eludes me.
So today was a day when I saw more of Seville’s newer and older quarters, and enjoyed the river and its occupants – rowers, boats.
Dinner was a vegan event!!!! I couldn’t help myself and ordered a darling little glass of orange wine to wash the meal away.I am grateful to get vegetables even if overcooked – but the overdose of soy sauce – wow.This is not the sort of food the cooks have learnt to cope with here – obviously. In some moments I feel like yelling, please let me into the kitchen and I will do it. Of course, I restrain myself because yelling in English at a Spanish speaker would be puzzling. Thankfully tonight there was no battered fried food and there were some colours on my plate although most merging towards brown. I am hopeful that soon, yes soon, I may eat differently.
The streets were thronged with people this evening. Trams ran up and down their short track slowly to avoid people who were casually walking – maybe 2km in length only (according to a local this was a piece of insanity added by a government when the decision to build a proper underground metro was too difficult). Many elderly couples were walking arm in arm, and families came with little children to look at large nativity scenes or just to walk.
Chestnuts were being roasted.Came across a large outdoor – in booths – book fair with sellers from cities all over Spain. Antiquarian books some of which looked centuries old. And more contemporary books. On every topic imaginable, but with a preference for Seville history. Different type of person wandering there, and it was very very pleasant. Had a close look at some leather-bound old tomes, but since some would have taken up half my suitcase, I left them behind.My hotel receptionist tells me there is bar a few crooked streets away where flamenco dancing will start in 15 minutes. So off I will go.
The Flamenco performance tonight was one of the thrilling spectacles of my life. Two most beautiful rich sounding guitars and brilliant players; sensationally competent and musical. Three male singers; one with an amazing voice, another with energetic expressions and not a bad sound, and the third who looked the part and could rip it up, but I didn’t feel he had the voices of the other two. Three female dancers and one male dancer. Thoughts; athleticism beyond bounds, committed, superb foot work and leg movements, great body posture, expressive bodies. This was a show in a small cramped bar, on a stage, but from accounts while I was at the performance (and from the recommendation of the hotel receptionist) this is one of only two places in Seville where the Flamenco is heard and danced authentically. I liked the fact that the women were not wearing sequins and imitation diamonds and flashy satin, or any of the ’icons’ of tourism Flamenco. I found their pairing of different patterned skirts with tops and shawls etc very strange – nothing that I would have put together, but it was for the dance and it worked. Almost two hours. Remarkable! If you are ever in Seville, the bar is located in Plaza Santa Cruz and I strongly recommend you go. I turned up at the last minute without a booking and was squeezed in. What good fortune!
A fantastic way to finish the day. Topped off by another Skype chat with June.