A photographers paradise (300+ shots taken)
17.02.2013 - 22.02.2013 14 °C
Once again we chanced it with Ryanair for our trip to Seville. When the prices are cheap and it flies from Bologna the choice is semplice. However the lack of allocated seating slows down boarding, especially when the reluctant staff have to shuffle around even more reluctant passengers so children can (unfortunately!) sit with their parents.
We arrived in Seville at about 5pm and it was lovely to shrug off our coats, hats and gloves and enjoy the comparitively warm temperature of 14 degrees. It was (just) warm enough for us to sit outside for dinner on a roof top terrace overlooking the Guadalquivir river. We took our chances with the menu and somehow managed to order the right dishes despite our very limited Spanish.
dinner al fresco
The next morning was a late start and a café con leche in the local Plaza Duque de la Victoria (not as good as Italian coffee - probably due to the lack of fresh milk) had our tour guide taking us to our first sight.
tour guide and conversation in the plaza
A walk along the streets and we soon found our way to Seville Cathedral & La Giralda - the largest church in the world with an Islamic Minaret. After 500 years of Islamic culture Seville was reconquered by Christian forces, therefore much of Moorish culture can still be seen in the buildings. The Cathedral and La Giralda are stunning both from the inside and outside with a magnificent courtyard that adds to its beauty. It is easy to walk to the top of La Giralda because of the sloping floor, which was built this way so the muezzin could ride his horse to the top for the call to prayer.
La Giralda and Cathedral
After our climb to the top it was time for lunch and we found one of the restaurants that Pedro (our apartment owner) had recommended. At 2pm we still had to put our name on the wait list. However we were shortly seated at a table and enjoying a range of excellent tapas, the restaurant buzzing with locals and the lovely staff managing keeping people happy with quick service. At 3.30pm when we departed the queue was even longer then when we arrived! Late meals are definitely the trend in Seville.
Feeling sluggish from all the food we slowly walked towards one of the University buildings (Fabrica Real de Tabacos - as the name suggests an old cigar factory immortalised in the opera Carmen) then on to Plaza de Espana. This plaza was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition. It is magnificent because it is almost completely covered in gorgeous glazed tiles depicting historic moments from the 40 regions of Spain. For Star Wars buffs it was used as a set in Star Wars: Attack of the Clones. The children loved playing here and in the Parque de Maria Luisa gardens nearby ... Gabi declaring that she loved Seville! I think the kids have been a bit deprived of greenery and parks in Bologna, plus the warmer weather certainly was a bonus. A walk back along the river and an ice-cream (not quite Italian standard) then a rest before dinner at 8pm. This time the taberna was just up the road from our Airbnb apartment. This Michelin star restaurant (Dos de Mayo) provided us with another wonderful dining experience, and when a family of four is fed for 35 euro we continue to thank our lucky travel stars.
Plaza de Espana
Dos de Mayo
The dry weather was not to last however and on Tuesday the rain was heavy. This resulted in a purchase of gumboots for the kids (I think I found the most expensive ones in Spain), however they proved to be invaluable over the next few days. Dan enjoyed some time off in the morning while the kids and I did some shopping. We then met up at Las Columnas, another brilliant tapas bar. The place had plenty of atmosphere and we managed to squeeze onto a tiny table. Our lack of Spanish was again a drawback, so Dan did the obvious thing and left it up to the waiter! After lunch we visited Real Alcazar; this amazing palace complex is a series of beautiful rooms, magnificent gardens and courtyards. The complex has many architectural influences but mostly it is the result of Pedro 1 (1350-69) who rebuilt it as a place of retreat for himself and his mistress.
Our final tour of the day was to La Maestranza; one of Spain’s most famous bull-fighting rings. The ring and the museum were interesting and gave an excellent insight into this controversial but important Spanish tradition. We all did feel very sorry for the poor old bulls however.
Our plans for Wednesday were changed as a three-hour train ride to Granada (and back) with a 5am start was not so appealing. The shorter 45 minute trip on the fast train to Cordoba was the preferred option. Cordoba is a magnificent city set on a beautiful wide river with plenty of gardens. Our first visit was to La Mezquita (The Great Mosque). This amazing building has rows and rows of variegated columns and arches that are supposed to be like date palms. Unfortunately there is a massive cathedral placed in its centre constructed in the 16th century. According to the guide books Emperor Carlos deeply regretted his decision and it certainly is ugly compared to the beautiful flow of the columns.
Other highlights of Cordoba included a walk through the narrow white-washed streets of the old Jewish neighbourhood (La Juderia). Lunch followed in a little courtyard where the children were serenaded by a Spanish guitarist, and then a stroll across the Rio Guadalquivir on a magnificent arched bridge with Roman foundations. However for the children the highlight was playing in an amazing children’s park set on the hilltop with over 30 pieces of play equipment ... a far cry from our sad and sorry park in Bologna.
During our final day and a half in Seville we managed to visit Museo de Bellas Artes, Casa de Pilotos, and take in a free show of flamenco dancing that started at 11pm - a bit late for some! Also an enjoyable walk through Barrio de Triana, a quarter once home to Seville’s gypsies that is well known for it beautiful ceramics. We topped off the day with lunch at Dos de Mayo ... this time I'm sure our lack of Spanish resulted in a plate of crumbed brains rather than crumbed fish ... best not to think too hard about it!
final Seville photos
We arrived home in Bologna to a foot of snow - what a contrast.