So our substitute to Madagascar did not disappoint.
We spent the last 3 weeks in the southern region of Spain- Andalusia. The weather was warm and summer-like for the first 2 weeks and then cooled down the last week, starting the beginning of their winter. We stayed in Sevilla for the first week renting an apartment (nice and large but noisy – as with all of most places in Andalusia). We didn’t have a car (and did not need one) and walked everywhere.
Sylvie had been to Sevilla in the late 90’s and fell in love with that city (and the Spanish men riding their exquisite horses). So it was a trip down memory lane for her – except for the Spanish men!
Sevilla is the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalusia (the fourth largest city in Spain) and is situated on the plain of the River Guadalquivir. Its old town, the third largest in Europe with an area of 4 square kilometres contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.
We visited two of the UNESCO sites starting with the city’s beautiful cathedral and tower – that famously holds the remains of Christopher Columbus.The Cathedral of Sevilla is Roman Catholic and is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It holds many treasures and has a splendid view of the city from its tower, the Giralda.
The other UNESCO site we took in was the Alcazar palace, the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. It brings together influences starting from the Arabic period, late Middle Ages and right through to the Renaissance, Baroque and the XIX century. Alcazar features a mudejar (islamic andalus) architecture with elaborate tilework, brickwork, wood carving, plaster carving, and ornamental metals. We also wandered the lush and manicured gardens that surrounds the palace.
Incredible tile work (below):
Aside from these 2 main sites, we went to the beautiful Plaza de Espana (day time and a night time horse carriage ride: a must do in Sevilla!), built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. We also toured the Casa de Pilatos (the poor man’s Alcazar palace version – still pretty nice), wandered the charming old neighborhood of Santa Cruz.
Plaza de Espana by horse carriage and day shots (below):
Tore del Oro above
Casa de Pilatos (below):
James absorbing all the interesting facts on Casa de Pilatos via audioguide (above).
Wandering Santa Cruz (below):
The police in Sevilla is friendly and ride gorgeous Andalucian horses (above).
We enjoyed experiencing the Andalusian culture with its tapas, talented street performers, and friendly residents who love to socialize over churros con chocolate or stroll in one of the many plazas (little parks). The streets are very alive and crowded with people from 10:00am to 2:00pm and from 5:00pm to the early morning hours (mandatory siesta in between when all the stores close and the streets empty). We tried a few tapas bars where it was hit-n-miss. The tapas can get elaborate, but the basic ones center around meat, especially their famous jamon (cured ham you will see hanging everywhere), potatoes and olives. Overall not bad, but we cooked in most of the time as we got a bit tapas’d out.
Above: One of our culinary dares: rabo de toro (bull’s tail), verdict: tasted like pot roast to us!
One of the many street performers (above)
We couldn’t leave Sevilla without seeing a flamenco show, and attended a very authentic show in a intimate patio-turned-stage setting. They performed many different types of Flamenco styles of singing and dancing, including the famous Sevillanas, which is a more lighthearted happy “folk” dance. It is usually danced by two people during the fairs in Andalusia. We could not get that one on film but got the more dramatic performance.