A Day in Sevilla

Trip Start Nov 10, 2013
Trip End Nov 24, 2013

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Flag of Spain  , Andalusia,
Friday, November 22, 2013

Our wake up was at 7:30 and we left for our city tour at 9:00.  Another great breakfast with Cava, Spanish champagne.  They had it in Torremolenos too.  But it was too early for us to partake.  We got on the bus with our tour guide Miguel Angel and his son Christian.  We took a panoramic tour in which we saw many of the pavilions of the 1929 and 1992 Expos and Maria Luisa Park.  We saw the Tobacco Factory of Carmen fame and a statue of El Cid.  When we got off the bus we got our first glimpse of the cathedral.  A photographer came and took a group picture which we will get tomorrow before we leave.  Our first stop was the Alcazar or Moorish Castle.  This castle was built in the Moorish style by Christian Monarchs.  So it is Mudejar style which is a mixture of Islamic and Christian elements.  It was reminiscent of the Alhambra but had many more patterns of ceramic tiles and was much smaller than the Alhambra.  We saw the Courtyard of the Hunt, the Admiral's Room, Audience Chamber with an altarpiece painting of St. Mary of the Navigators, a model of Columbus' Santa Maria, the Palace of King Pedro, the Courtyard of the Maidens, Hall of the Ambassadors, Courtyard of the Dolls, the Banquet Hall and Hall of Tapestries, the Gardens and the Patio de Banderas where they received foreign dignitaries and put up the flags (banderas) of their countries.   

From the Alcazar we went through the Jewish Quarter to a small square for our morning break.  Derek finally found a t-shirt at one of the shops.  After our break we got on the bus which took us close to the cathedral.  Only those people who paid extra went with the guides to the cathedral.  We hadn't understood that, so we went with Mike and Paula and got tickets on our own.  Larry and I got in for the senior price of 3E and Derek, Paula and Mike paid 8E.  We could still hear the guide on our Whisper, a device that lets  you hear what the guide is saying even if you are not close.  The Cathedral of Sevilla is the third largest in Europe after St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London and the largest Gothic cathedral anywhere.  It is also where Christopher Columbus is buried and we weren't going to miss that.  While the rest of our group went around with the guide and sat and stood and listened to him, we had a tour of the whole place, all the side chapels and the Court of the Orange Trees.  The only thing we didn't have time to do was the Giraldo Tower climb.  The other group didn't do that either.

When we left the cathedral we left our guides behind.  We walked to the Bullring and Bullfight Museum.  Our guide was Isabel.  We went into the bullring which was the first round bullring in Spain and sat in the seats while Isabel told us about the ring.  There were five gates around the ring: one for toreadors to enter, one for bulls to enter, one for use in case of an injury to the toreador, one to drag out the body of the dead bull, and the last one for successful toreadors to exit through.  At a normal bullfight there will be six bulls and three toreadors.  I won't go into the details, just know that bullfights and bullfighters are treated like Hollywood spectacles with movie stars. The object is to kill the bull and make money.  A toreador can earn up to 300,000E per fight and they can be as young as 16.  In the museum we saw heads of bulls who had been especially good in the ring.  One cow's head was also there because she was the mother of a bull who killed a very popular toreador and they didn't want any more offspring from her.  Weird!  In the museum there are great classic scenes from bullfighting, equipment used in the training of the bullfighters, and costumes.  We also saw the chapel where the bullfighters pray before each fight.  When we left the bullring a few people stayed in that area and the rest of us came back to the hotel.

When we got back we were starving as it was after 2:30.  So Derek, Larry and I went to a tapas bar across the street called Miquel Angel just like our guide this morning.  Four of the ladies from our tour were in there and two of them spoke Spanish which was really helpful in ordering.  We decided on a plate of deep fried seafood tapas to share.  When it came it had shrimp, baby calamari, sardines, and a really tasty fish we think was grouper.  It was just the right amount as we would eat again soon.  In the tapas bar there was a chandelier made of spoons.  We went back to the hotel and Derek had a nap and Larry and I were on Google playing the Dr. Who game for the 50th anniversary of Dr. Who.  Then I worked on blogs until it was time to get ready to go to dinner and the flamenco dance.

Fifteen of us left for the dinner and dance at 5:45 and got there about 6:00.  We went in and sat down and we were the only group who was there for supper.  They brought us a bottle of wine, a pitcher of Sangria, a roll and a bowl of olives.  The waitress came around and took our orders.  Derek and I got shrimp cocktail for our starter and Larry got the tossed salad because he is allergic to shrimp.  When it came it was in a yummy cream sauce.  For our main course we all got the roast pork which came with gravy, sliced potatoes that were like fries and buttered carrots.  Our dessert arrived just as the show started: a very small cream puff, another puffed pastry and whipped cream.  The pork was outstanding.

I can't even begin to describe the Flamenco Show.  There was a guitarist and two singers.  There were about 7 women and 5 men dancers.  They were so good it reminded me of River Dance or much more dramatic and passionate.  They used castinettes, canes, fans, and shawls to add drama and interest.  I didn't get many good pictures because I couldn't zoom in.  They did part of the opera Carmen by Bizet.  For me this will be one of the highlights of the trip.  Larry and Derek thought it was great too.  We were in a small theatre and very close to the stage.  It was so full of energy that we were pretty wound up afterward.  It was 9:00 when we got back.  Larry and Derek stayed downstairs for a drink in bar.  I came up to the room to download pictures and do this blog.
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