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  • Day7

    Day 7 - Sevilla!

    September 16, 2017 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 18 °C

    Today was pretty much the first day we had to just relax and take it slow. And we needed it! We woke up late and found an awesome park on the water to workout. Then we had breakfast (and lunch!) while wandering the streets and alleys before returning for an early siesta at the beautiful Airbnb. We met our first American friend, Graham, from New Orleans, who is renting the other room in the house, as we sipped a glass of wine on the terrace. Then we wandered the streets some more, had a couple of cervezas at a local bodega, and had a nice dinner while people watching near the city center. Last, but absolutely not least, I finally got my churros con chocolate that we missed out on in Madrid!!!! Now time for an early night (and our books)!!!

    Not many pictures (and they're all of me because Tim had the phone) and a fairly uneventful day, but just as wonderful as the last. Sevilla is absolutely beautiful and the people are by far the nicest we have met so far.
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  • Day1


    November 27, 2019 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 15 °C

    Hotel Becquer
    La Barratillo for tapas near the bull ring
    Very nice hotel warm, friendly welcome. Good size room. Headed for La Barratillo for more than we could eat tapas. Tried to avoid looking at the bulls heads.

  • Day6

    Day 6 - Sevilla Arrival

    September 15, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 23 °C

    Well...we have said it 5 days in a row and meant it every time. But, once again, every day has been better than the last. We LOVE Sevilla.

    Cadiz had originally been planned as a day trip from Sevilla but we decided to change it to a 2 night stay. After just a few hours in Cadiz, we thought about bagging Sevilla completely and staying a week in Cadiz. We are so happy we didn't do that. Sevilla has all of the charm and beauty of an old Spanish town like Cadiz and Toledo with all of the attractions and kind people of a city like Madrid. It may not have a beach, but it has a beautiful canal surrounding the city, as well as cathedrals, museums, monuments, AND Plaza de Espana, where the pod race scene from Star Wars Episode One was filmed. And we managed to see all of this today. But, the stand out of the day so far has been the food.

    After our tapas-filled lunch, Tim and I agreed it had been our best meal yet. But even that couldn't top our tapas-filled dinner at a Michelin star "bar", Eslava. I want to write all of these tapas down so we don't forget.

    Lunch - swordfish over orange wine sauce, "Padron" peppers, dates wrapped in bacon, hearts of palm over vegetable gazpacho, eggplant topped with goat cheese and drizzled in honey

    Dinner - roasted mackerel with tomato onion pepper salad, roasted pork rib with rosemary honey glaze, artichokes with fried garlic and shavings of cod, grilled razor clams with lemon, slow cooked egg over boletas cake with caramelized wine reduction, and brick pastry stuffed with cuttlefish (we did it again!) and algae served with yogurt.

    (Each of these tapas are about 2 Euros a piece...amazing)

    ...not to mention where we are staying. We have a room in a 19th century Andalusian house that is absolutely beautiful. Our friendly hosts are the ones who recommended both of these amazing meals.

    I can't wait to see what tomorrow brings!
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  • Day8

    Day 8 - Last Day/Night in Sevilla

    September 17, 2017 in Spain ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Sevilla has been absolutely amazing! It reminds me of a Spanish Richmond. It has all of the feels of a small city, yet it's large enough to have a little of everything. There are restaurants, bars, and cafes on every street. There is a ton of culture and history everywhere you look. The people are so charming and friendly. It's cheap! There's a waterfront full of architecture, parks, water sports, art walks, and even a foodie event that we stumbled upon today (similar to "Broad Appetite" of Richmond). While we could happily stay here forever, we did these 3 days right and are happy to see what's in store for us next. We stayed in a beautiful Andalusian home with the nicest hosts imaginable. We ate some of the best food we have ever had (and checked off 7 of the 15 or so restaurants off of our hosts' recommendation list), we wandered about 10 miles a day through streets and alleyways, we explored the beautiful architecture on both sides of the canal, we saw the Cathedral, the Real Alcazar, the Plaza de Espana, and so much more.

    Today was a great finale. Another workout on the water. Crepes for breakfast. Hours of alley wandering and site-seeing. Siesta. Wine on the rooftop. More walking. Another tapas-filled dinner and people watching on a busy terrace. Now some rest and relaxation before we head off to Granada in the morning.
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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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  • Day12

    Guided Tour of the Jewish Quarter

    July 9, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    We went on a guided tour of the Jewish Quarter at 5:30pm. The guide explained the reasons why the Jews lived so close to the royal palace and could be in the King's court in just one minute's walk. The Jews, prior to the Black Plague in 1350, were very popular with the King for two reasons: firstly, because they could lend money which the king often needed, and, secondly, they were the best doctors in Spain so they king called on them for medical treatment. However, when the Black Plague decimated the population of Seville, the Jews did not catch the plague. This led to accusations of various kinds, including the Jews poisoned the water, the Jews killed Christ and this is God's punishment on the Catholics for favouring the Jews in the city, and the Jews have all the money of the city and are causing the Catholics to suffer.

    This all led to an uprising of antisemitism which culminated in one night of massacre in 1391 when the people of Seville rioted and killed 4000 of the 5000 Jews living in Seville. This led to the remaining Jews to flee to other parts of the city and they had to convert to Christianity if they were to be saved. Why didn't the king stand up for them? Because he was so in debt to the Jews that he was thankful that the people had killed the people to whom he owed money. It was an easy way to wipe out a debt.

    The inquisition commenced here in Seville. It was designed to investigate first whether the Jews had really converted to Christianity or were they just doing so to save their lives and secretly keeping their Jewish rituals behind closed doors. The first hearings were held in a small square in the Jewish Quarter. There are two narrow streets going off the square very close together. One street is called Vide (which means life) the other is called Morte (which means death). If the inquisition found the accused innocent, they were taken down the street named life, if found guilty, they were taken down the other street to be executed. It is a chilling reminder of the cruel reality of the Catholic Inquisition. There is a museum located where the first headquarters of the Inquisition was located in Spain. It is here in Seville and we hope to visit it tomorrow.

    There is a square in Seville where a synagogue was located in Seville, but it was destroyed. There is a little Jewish symbol on buildings here wherever there is something of significance to the Jews. They are hard to find, but the guide pointed them out. For example, there is a small underground walkway where the Jews resorted to praying out of sight after the persecutions began. There is also a symbol in the square where the synagogue once stood in the 14th century.

    There are only about 150 Jews living in Seville today, not enough religious Jews to have a synagogue. The Jewish community has never really returned to Spain after they were so persecuted and then expelled in the 14th and 15th centuries.
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  • Day13

    Real Alcazar

    July 10, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 21 °C

    Sam and I went on a tour of the famous Real Alcazar, the royal palace in Seville. This famous palace is a spectacular remnant of the glory days of the Spanish Empire. Seville was the port from which Spain launched every trip into the new world bringing back gold, silver and precious cargo of all kinds which brought untold wealth through the port of Seville into the court of the king in this city.

    The royal palace is built in architecture (known as Mudejar) unique to Seville, which is a special combination of Muslim and Christian influences. The Almohads, Muslims, had taken Seville in 712 and controlled it until 1248, about five centuries. They had built a palace for the Sultan of their Caliphate. When King Ferdinand freed the city, he was so impressed with the luxury of the Sultan that he wanted a palace built fit for a Sultan. So he brought in artisans and builders from Granada, which was still under Muslim control, and they built the palace in a unique mix of Muslim and Christian architecture and art.

    The court of the king is luxurious and huge. The top story of the palace is not open to the public because the current king and queen maintain that story for the royal family in case they wish to stay there when in Seville. The current king has not used it, but the previous king did from time to time. It does require the whole palace to be closed down.

    The palace was declared a World Heritage site, along with the Giraldo, in 1987. The palace is so unique and special that it has been used in quite a few movies and TV shows which are set in the Middle Ages. Ridley Scott directed a movie about Jerusalem called The Kingdom of Heaven which used the Palace and its grounds to depict Jerusalem. Also, the Game of Thones TV show was shot here. Apparently, the whole palace had to be closed to the public for two weeks for that shoot.

    We spent a couple of hours in the palace but felt we could be spent longer there. The gardens are beautiful as well and represent the gardens of many parts of the world, as the kind received gifts of plants from many countries and these were used to build gardens characteristic of those countries within the palace walls.

    The Muslims love to include lots of water fountains and greenery in their courtyards, to create a kind of paradise, and these are found throughout the palace and its grounds.

    The Real Alcazar is not to be missed on any visit to beautiful Seville.
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  • Day13

    Seville Cathedral

    July 10, 2018 in Spain ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

    Sam and I went on a guided tour of the Seville Cathedral this morning. It is the third biggest church in the world, behind St Peters in Rome and St Paul's in London. However, it is the biggest cathedral (neither of the other two is classified as a cathedral) and the largest gothic church in the world. As a cathedral, it supplanted the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as the biggest in the world when it was completed in 1506.

    The cathedral replaced a large mosque built on the same site by the Muslims when they were ruling the city. The city was retaken by Ferdinand III in 1248, and the mosque was gradually converted to a church. But the plans for the cathedral were drawn up and construction commenced in 1401. It took about 100 years to build. Inside it is grand. The huge columns create the sense that one is standing in a huge marble forest with the roof being as high as the sky. The backdrop to the altar is spectacular - a wooden carved story of Jesus told in about 50 ornately carved panels and every covered with gold - 30m wide and 20m high.

    The church is full of original paintings by famous artists, including Goya and Murilla, the latter celebrating the 400th anniversary of his birth this year so there are special exhibitions about hsi art in the cathedral and all through Seville.

    The Visigoth Kings who ruled Spain in the 5th century were converted from Aryanism to Catholicism by two archbishops of Seville who were brothers. They were canonised as a consequence and there are some spectacular paintings of these brothers who are famous in Seville for this accomplishment (although I'm not sure it improved the spiritual status of the Visigoth Kings at all).

    The Cathedral is a spectacular building, bringing together as it did all the very best craftsmen, artisans and artists in Spain and Europe to produce one of the major infrastructure accomplishments of the Middle Ages. It was listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 1987.

    Many famous kings and queens of Spain and buried in this Cathedral. Christopher Columbus is also buried here and his remains are memorialised in a spectacular tomb with four bronze men carrying his large coffin on their shoulders. These four men symbolise the four main parts of Spain - Leon, Castillo, Navarre, and Aragon. The son of Columbus is also buried in the Cathedral because he donated his library to the Cathedral, which included many of Columbus’ original documents and records.

    There are two major parts of the original Mosque that still form a part of the Cathedral. The courtyard outside the cathedral was the "sahn" (ablutions courtyard) of the original Mosque. There are beautiful orange trees planted in this courtyard the flowers of which give off a very characteristic scent which is synonymous with Seville. There is also the famous Giralda Tower which was the tallest building in the city until just three years ago, and which was the old minaret of the Mosque and was, when it was built, the highest and largest minaret in any mosque in the world. It was a twin of the minaret in Marrakesh in Morocco.
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  • Day12

    Flight to Seville

    July 9, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 34 °C

    We arose at 6:30am to shower, pack, cleanup and exit our Airbnb by 7:15am. We had been able to catch up on the clothes washing so all was looking good. The drive to the airport only took about 30 minutes, including a stop to refuel the hire car. After dropping the hire car off we still had time at the gate for a croissant and coffee before boarding the Ryanair flight from Santiago de Compostela to Seville. Our plane took off at 9:20am. There was a noticeable increase in temperature when we arrived at 10:50am. We are in the southern Spanish region of Andolusia, and the expected top temperature today in Seville is 36 celsius at 6pm.

    After catching two buses and a short walk we arrived at our Airbnb, which is a nice unit on the edge of Barrio Santa cruz, otherwise known as the Jewish Quarter, the old area of the city. We have booked all our accommodation so we are right in the medieval part of the town. We are a short walk from the Cathedral and the Royal Palace (the Real Alcazar).

    Sam had a rest while I went for a walk around the old city. Seville oozes character and charm. It is a city that was at its height in the 15th to 17th centuries. The river Guadalquivir (good luck pronouncing that one) flows throught the town. The river flows through Cordoba, then Seville the to Cadiz on the coast. Further upstream was an important port in Cordoba, but that region of the river silted up in the middle ages and Seville became the major Spanish port on the river. Later in the 18th century the river in Seville also silted up to make it difficult for boats to navigate, so Cadiz on the coast became the major port. However, when the Spanish empire was expanding, Christopher Columbus and Ferdinand Magellan both set off on their overseas missions from Sevilla.

    There are some major historical buildings to be seen and explored in Seville. The cathedral is the third largest in Europe. The only two larger are St Peter's in Rome and St Paul's in London. The cathedral looks grand from the outside, and we have booked a tour for tomorrow of that building. The tower attached to the cathedral is the only remaining portion of the Mosque that was built when the Muslims took control of Spain. The tour tomorrow will also include the Real Alcazar (Royal Palace) which is the home of the Kings and Queens of Spain when resident in Seville throughout history. The top floor of the palace is still reserved for the royal family.

    The 1929 World Fair led to the construction of some amazing buildings, gardens and squares in Seville. The prominent and majestic Plaza de Espana stands out as an amazing piece of architecture which was the centrepiece of the World Fair.

    Seville is a beautiful city, albeit very hot at this time of year. It is a dry heat, so it is bearable if one keeps to the shade when walking around.
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  • Day12

    Susanna - a sad lesson for life

    July 9, 2018 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 32 °C

    There was a Jewish girl in the Middle Ages called Susanna who is famous in Seville. She was the most beautiful girl in the city. She was romantically attached to a Sevillian soldier, one of the Spanish army resident in the city. Susanna's father was very unhappy with his daughter being in love with a Gentile and a soldier. The Jewish father was rich and well connected and he organised for a raid on the group of soldiers which included the boyfriend of his daughter. He wanted to kill them for stealing his daughter's heart.

    Susanna decided she must warn her boyfriend of what was being planned. The consequence was that the soldiers attacked the father and killed him, and then the boyfriend disassociated himself from Susanna because he was ashamed of what he had brought upon himself and his fellow soldiers as a consequence of being involved with a Jewish girl.

    Susanna had now not only lost her boyfriend but also her father. She lived a lonely life and died a sad spinster. She requested that her bones be displayed on the wall outside her house as a lesson to all Jewish children not to forsake your family or your people for the promise of love. Love is fleeting but family is forever, she said, and she had sacrificed her family for folly.

    Her bones were on display for several centuries, but then they were taken down, and a plaque installed instead over the door of her house in the Jewish quarter. It is a famous landmark and still there today. The street, which is the Morte street meaning death, is also named Susanna Street in that section where her house is located.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

Seville, Sevilla, Séville, Siviglia, Sevilha

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