8 Hours in Sevilla

Trip Start Sep 15, 2006
Trip End Oct 10, 2006

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Tuesday, October 3, 2006

MOOD: Pretty good, but a little worried
TIME/PLACE: 10/3, 9:18pm, bus from Sevilla to Linea de Concepcion
SONG STUCK IN MY HEAD: Since the bus is playing Raiders of The Lost Ark en Espanol, I guess that would have to be John Williams' score.
FOOD LAST CONSUMED: Some frickin' pastries that came in plastic from the bus station. Meanwhile, we just passed a roadside pit barbecue. I wasn't hungry until I saw that.

All things considered, I slept pretty good at the Hotel Madrid, but it required earplugs and my sleeping mask. From 3am on there was the sound of trash bins opening and slamming shut outside. I swear, I think the Madrid not only is a dump, but is located next to one as well.

Even though I felt totally unsafe there, what with the lack of a lock on the door and the ants and the mold, I still left my pack there, sitting right by the front door where they told me to, where anyone could grab it and run. Pretty stupid of me, but it worked out.

My first objective of the day was to find something to eat, and that was achieved at a fruteria. There was an old lady who was having far too good a time harassing the owner, and we all had to wait while she was done, but it was alright. I got something that looked like a peach but tasted more like a big kumquat, and a nectarine which was more plum that usual. In these last days of my trip, I really need to eat more of the local produce.

I then located the nearby bus station where they gave me the number of the train company, and also the location of the bus station where the bus I would need the following day at San Sebastian Plaza. My plan was to stay the night in Sevilla, then go to Gibraltar, but it was looking like I'd need to connect through Algeciras, not Linea de Concepcion, which is the Spanish town right across the border from Gibraltar. At the station I got the times to Algeciras, made some calls about rooms in Gibraltar, and then went about seeing what there was to see in Seville.

The guidebook made it sound like there were definitely some reasons to stay in Seville for more than a day. It's a pretty big city, and although the book extolled the virtues of the people, how they love to live life, I wasn't feelin' it.

But I made my way to Alcazar, which was close to San Sebastian Plaza bus station. There were signs for hostels around there, and since I didn't want to stay at Hotel Madrid again, I inquired, but they were all actually more like hotels at 50- 60 Euros a night. And then I saw the exit for the Alcazar and... walked right in. Not sure why. I knew it was wrong, and in fact, Alcazar was one of the best things I've seen on this trip. I gladly would have paid for it. I guess I was just acting out, expecting to get caught, but I just walked backwards through the masses of tour groups and there I was.

Inside, they've got the first known painting recording the discovery of the Americas, done around 1510, so that was remarkable for this American to see. The ceilings of the palace rooms were very nice as well.

But nothing could have prepared me for the sprawling gardens. They just went on and on and on! I'm not usually so excited about gardens, but I think the Alcazar really changed my tune. It was so beautifully laid out, and the bird life was incredible. There was this loud, throbbing cooing from the hordes of birds that hang out there. Pigeons and doves and ducks, oh my. It was actually the sound of the cooing that attracted me to the gardens, and I'm not sure I would have found it otherwise. Or maybe it was just that the way I entered the garden seemed to be through a hidden portal. I'm sure I would have found it in any case, but I liked how it just sprang up on me.

[Meanwhile, here on the bus, we recently passed Puerto de Santa Maria, and I'm expecting to get my first glimpse of the Spanish Mediterranean, even though it'll be dark. But as romantic as that sounds, it's all tempered by the disgusting sounds emanating from the driver. He's been coughing and sneezing all trip without covering his mouth, and I'm certain he's going to infect us all. Bastard. And then there's the roundabouts we've been going through at like one every two minutes. I don't know how much longer I'll be able to keep writing unless we get on a highway again.]

They had a bar and cafe at Alcazar, so I had a half liter of Campocruz beer and a couple of warm meat tapas that came with bread. It wasn't much, but that was the last real meal I had and it's still holding me. My ability to go and go without eating is pretty cool, and I'm certain I've lost weight on this trip. Though I doubt I'll keep it off once I return to the world of regular meals and huge portions.

After Alcazar it was time for the Cathedral. The guidebook describes the parties responsible as intending to make a building so big they'd think centuries later that they were crazy. Well, I don't know about crazy, but it's pretty absurd. The ceilings are really high --it's just cavernous in there. Meanwhile, I had spent so much time at Alcazar that they were closing the cathedral soon for services, so I had to book it up to the top of the bell tower. I was surprised to find that, instead of the usual winding staircase, it was all ramped until the stairs at the very top. I almost made it to the top without stopping, but people got in my way.

At the top the view was outstanding, and I saw some modern buildings I wanted to try and see. Then, at 4, bells started ringing from churches nearby and I quickly grabbed my video camera and aimed it at the bells overhead. My instincts were right on as they began ringing, and the sound was so loud that it was startling, even though I knew what was coming.

Back down in the Cathedral I went looking for the supposed crypt of Christopher Columbus, and I think it's borne aloft by four really cool statues, but I couldn't be sure. However, the guidebook thinks it's actually one of his sons due to the carbon dating, so no matter.

There were guys pushing pews around in the center of the Cathedral and a voice was testing the sound system. Then there was a loud, piercingly high pitched wail. I can't believe that's how they were trying to get us to leave, but it's possible.

From the Cathedral I walked along the river, enjoying the view, when I found the large tourist information center, I went in and they told me that there should be a bus that goes direct to Linea de Concepcion, and the last one is at 8, which was in two and a half hours. And just like that, I decided to leave Sevilla tonight. I mean, I had no plans for tonight other than to drink, so why not?

But first I wanted to go see the only other thing that really grabbed me from the guidebook, and that was the Maria y Julio Park (?). It said that there were interesting, even funny buildings there, but it was misleading. The book actually said that the general area had such buildings, but gave no specifics. Which is annoying, but the park was nice.

Nearby was Plaza de Espana, which is a really wonderful area with towers and a huge fountain and a moat (that was dry) and ceramic-tiled paintings for the various great cities of Spain. Pretty cool.

And thus ended my Sevilla sightseeing. I had thoughts of my professor from college Suranjan being disappointed in me for flitting about Spain instead of soaking it up, but what can I say? It feels right. Plus, I want to soak up Barcelona, and since I leave from there for home in six days, I've got some distance to cover.

Leaving Plaza Espana at 6:45, I was somehow able to get on a bus towards Hotel Madrid, hop off on the wrong side of the river, totally guessing that I was crossing the right bridge, followed the map a little but mostly just hedging my bets, and wouldn't you know it, I recognized the turn for the hotel from the taxi ride the night before. There's a bar that had a sign for Malt Shoppe, and that was where I was planning on drinking tonight. Instead, I went to the bathroom in the hotel lobby, strapped on my pack and made it to the bus station at 7:45. There was a sign that said something about 15 minutos, and I'm guessing if I'd arrived any later they wouldn't have sold me a ticket. Which sounds ridiculous, but with these bureaucratic types of situations, you never know.

And now for the worrying part. I made some calls about rooms in Gibraltar for tonight and it sounds like hotels close at 11:30, and I won't be crossing the border (that is, if I'm able to cross the border at night) until 12:30 or so (if the bus arrives on time at 12:15pm). So I may be sleeping in a park tonight. But since, you know, it's a British protectorate, I'll feel safe for no rational reason.

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