17.04.2016 - 19.04.2016
We farewelled Cordoba on Sunday morning after a cheap and cheerful breakfast, and then proceeded to run into Kim and Graham (again!) at the bus station. They set off for Granada, while we journeyed to Sevilla, accompanied by the soothing sounds of Christina Aguilera singing in Español.
We arrived in Sevilla on the final day of Feria - and even though we weren't in the heart of the festival, the festival spirit was certainly spread across the city. Women in brightly coloured and incredibly ruffled flamenco dresses everywhere you looked! Most women had at least a token flower in their hair. All of Seville (and plenty of tourists) decked in their finest. Not bad for a Sunday afternoon.
We did our usual ninky thing and walked to the Airbnb, which we found after a moment of doubt in the power of Google maps. Our hosts were out Feria-ing, but we let ourselves in and set to working out the things to see and do in Sevilla. Well, I did - Simon had a turn at trying out the siesta thing. He gave it five stars.
When our hosts (and their family) returned, there was much hola-ing and general merriment, and also some general instructions on how to get about and what to see and do. The metro became our new best friend, as did the helpful station security guard. Off into the city and we found ourselves in the Parque de Maria Luisa, and then the Plaza de España. Wow. That is a serious plaza. Certainly a different vibe from the Werribee Plaza (sorry, Pacific Werribee). So much space, so many tiles, so many stairs, such a fountain. It was everything Spanish all at once. There was a horse practising his fancy walking thing, there was a girl in a huge communion dress getting photos taken, and there were women in flamenco dresses. And there were so many places to sit! But apparently not quite enough. As we were quietly sitting on a bench, another couple decided to sit right next to us and proceed to kiss passionately. Very passionately. I know Sevilla is supposed to be a romantic city, but really? They couldn't be romantic ANYWHERE else in this vast space? They had to do it less than a metre from us...
Moving on, we found our own spot to watch the sun go down and people watch until our stomaches said it was time for tapas. €1 tapas, to be specific. In a bar filled with women in flamenco dresses, naturally. First night in Sevilla? Success.
Day two of Sevilla I had expected the city to be in a post-Feria slumber, but no. Even the trams were still wearing their jaunty hats.
Thanks to a tip from Kim and Graham, we ignored the extensive queue to the cathedral (it already stretched around the block 15 minutes after opening time) and went to the Iglesia Colegial Divino Salvador for a mini queue. This let us buy combined tickets to the Catedral and the smaller church, which most importantly negated the need to queue. Triumph. Back to the Salvador spot first - small(ish) in comparison to other epic monuments, but full of shiny things and fancy sculptures and painting. So much to look at - I employed the strategy of sitting in the middle and trying to take it all in.
Off to the Catedral next, casually sauntering past the bazillion people patiently waiting to buy their tickets. Suckers. Straight through for us! The Catedral was monstrous, and there would have been thousands of people within the walls. I'm not exaggerating this time, not even a little bit. The Giralda (tower that we climbed for city views) had a counter showing how many people were in it, and there were about 700 when we entered.
We felt a bit overwhelmed after all that, so picked somewhere small and cosy for lunch, before heading back to our flat. The afternoon disappeared in a haze of washing, Spanish lessons (totally mastered the Andalucian lisp) and Australian promotional work. Having learned to say 'Alcazar' properly, it was time to see it. Free entrance between 6 and 7pm on Monday - thankyou very much!
We did have to queue this time though, as every other tourist in Seville obviously had the same idea. But I didn't mind the 45 minute queue so much once we were in the shade, and knowing that it was saving us about €17 made it all worthwhile. You can get a lot of tapas for €17! Once inside, we set to exploring the buildings and gardens as thoroughly as we could in 45 minutes (once in, we could stay until 7.30pm). I think we did a pretty good job - we saw peacocks, flash tiles, crockery, archways, gardens, and, of course, girls getting communion photos taken.
After that ninky expedition we found tapas, then we found a bar with free flamenco performances every hour. And jugs of sangria for €9. And plenty of tourists. But anyway - free flamenco was entertaining, especially the special guest performance by a passionate young boy halfway through. And it saved us about €40, so even if you take out the cost of the sangria we were well and truly winning. I think I've been married to an accountant for too long.
This morning we ventured in the rain across to the other side of the river, to Triana, and scored free Belvita samples. Combined with fruit from the market, this made for a truly ninky breakfast. The market was a mix of locals and tourists - lots and lots of Americans, lots and lots of photos, not so much of the buying food. We headed next door to the remains of the Castillo de San Jorge, a free museum about the Spanish Inquisition. How unexpected!
Unfortunately this museum was not very good, it only had the potential for goodness. Every single video, projection and audiovisual component was out of order, which left only a few boards of written information to do the job. I learnt something about the Inquisition, but not a lot. Lucky it was free.
It was still raining after this, so we sought refuge in the Torre de Oro, now a naval museum. By 'museum', l really mean 'collection of paintings of men with mutton chops and moustaches who have been on boats'. Meh. The displays about the building of the tower were more interesting, and at least in wasn't raining inside.
We braved the rain for long enough to find lunch (return of the natillas!) and then made it to the Metropol Parasol, a great sprawling construction that had walkways at the height of the buildings, giving a superb view of all the landmark buildings of Sevilla. As it was raining, we had the place pretty much to ourselves. As it was raining, we went into the cafe at the top and got a coffee and a hot chocolate - a more exciting experience than you might expect! The hot chocolate here was moderately thick, and I consumed it with a spoon. It was more like chocolate custard, or the sauce from self-saucing pudding. It reinforced my plans to only consume chocolate beverages and lemonade if I ever require thickened fluids.
The rain eventually cleared, so we went back out onto our Parasol and enjoyed the views a bit less aquatically. I actually preferred this to the views from the Giralda as this placed you at the level of the rooftops and made it seem as if you were walking on the skyline, rather than feeling removed from it way up high.
After all this successful ninkying about, it's time to go and prepare for a horrendously early morning flight to Barcelona. Urgh. Wish us luck.