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  • Day631

    The Alcázar, Seville

    March 19, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 14 °C

    The four of us had needed to plan the week carefully according to the weather. Today was one of the coldest days with a high risk of downpours so we'd decided on a trip to the city of Seville because it was significantly warmer there.

    Paul and Cath's hire car would get us there faster and be easier to park, so we loaded Poppy, ourselves and the household rubbish into the little Seat. There is no residential refuse collection in Spain. The communal bins have been great for ease of disposal in the van, but made household logistics more complicated than in the UK. It felt alien packing what we needed for the day for us and the dog. We are so used to just driving to our destination with everything in the van.

    Making good headway, Paul read out the degrees as they clicked up on the external thermometer. Light toned, high rise residential flats and business blocks hailed the perimeter of the settlement, with palms and plane trees lining the boulevards that led us into the centre. There were even some trees that could well have been Seville oranges. The temperature was 17°C as we approached the old town, making us very glad we'd chosen this heat island.

    The car park we'd planned to use was full but it was a lot easier to navigate the city streets in the Seat and Paul found underground parking, something that would have been off limits to the Martha Motorhome.

    Being more organised than us, Cath had thought to book advance tickets for Seville's Real Alcázar; a royal palace built under moorish rule. Making our way towards it we kept our eyes open for somewhere to eat and found Bar Español on the corner of a wide pedestrian area and tramway. It offered a €12 menu of the day but didn't open until 1pm- something we still have to get used to. After 5 minutes the shutters were raised and we found a corner table to settle at. The 3 courses and drinks were served with an almost over-hasty efficiency, but given that we had to be at the Alcázar within an hour, this suited us well. The stuffed pepper salad starter and stew with fried potato main were tasty and we got to sample pestiños; an Andalucian Christmas and Holy week pastry made of dough fried in olive oil and coated in honey and sugar.

    Precipitously, we made our way towards Seville's Alcázar, past unsavoury flag posters advertising a bull fighting event. The yellow and red stone buildings inset with mosaic tiles and topped with domes gave the city an attractive look and warm feel. On route we passed mounted police and numerous horses waiting to pull shiny black carriages on tours. We could see from the map that the palace was a huge complex, but it took some time to find the entrance. As the city's top attraction, there was a long queue, but we cut through this, straight to the kiosk for those that had prebooked. We were in through the metal detectors in a matter of minutes and grateful to Cath for her organisation!

    Inside the walls was a mixture of pillared courtyards, mature gardens and high ceilinged chambers. There were a number of other tourists of all ages, but we didn't feel crowded or rushed. Instead there was a pleasant and calm atmosphere with a quiet buzz, perhaps brought about by the surroundings. The more we saw the more overawed we became by the place. It was a warm day and outdoors the scent of herbs, iris blossom and violets filled our nostrils. The green fronds of tall palms swayed overhead, while water tinkled through spouts of low key fountains and into shallow stone bowls. These water features were both outside and in, providing a link between the warm light and cool shade. Walking between them we passed through fringed stone archways with incredible ornately carved decoration, the beautiful fretwork splashed with subtle blues and golds.

    It was interesting how each of us took something different from our surroundings; Paul had an audio guide and was greatly interested in the history and stories behind the palace, Cath picked out little details such as the representations of leaves, fish and shells painted or carved into the walls, Vicky soaked in the royal hues and overall impression made by the patterns whereas Will's mathematical brain analysed the skilled geometry and recurrence in these same patterns. Needless to say we were all very impressed and spent a few leisurely hours perusing the palace, getting 'lost'in the well kept hedge maze and sampling a Seville orange that Will picked from one of the many trees lining the paths. The best description we can give is that it tasted like marmalade!

    The sun had shone brightly but just as we were coming to the end of our time at the Alcázar the sky darkened and rain began to fall. We exited and made our way back to the car via the imposing tower of the adjacent sandstone cathedral. We could have looked round it too, but felt the quality palace experience was all we needed from the day.
    The rain became a downpour as we walked back to the car but we soon got the blowers going and after picking up some shopping, were heading back to El Balcon de Lijar, a warm fire and scrumptious evening meal.
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