Sunday, April 17, 2011


We made an overnight trip to Sevilla this week. Sevilla is about 3 hours away. It is a HUGE city and driving was a nightmare. We opted for a map at one point which was a mistake as it didn’t show one way streets and strangely angled corners or streets made for goats rather than vehicles. We wound up driving in a nasty maze of inner city streets and eventually reverted to our GPS to help get us out again. Streets aside, the inner city was wonderful and we had a great time.

Sevilla is the place you want to visit if your idea of Spain is Flamenco, bullrings, and lacy headwear for women. This is where we found fans, castanets, Flamenco dresses and so on for sale in stores on the street. I don’t mean the tourist kind, either. There are real stores that sell this stuff to real Spanish people. It still exists. In fact, some women own a different fan for every outfit. It seems ridiculous in Canada but after living in the heat here, a fan has become a more attractive accessory. It’s only spring but already the temperature gets up to around 30 degrees during the day. We can almost sit out on our deck late at night but I still need a sweater. Give it another couple of months, though, and it will be a sweltering 45 degrees in the afternoon sun and most families won’t retire until after midnight because of the evening heat. Glad we’ll miss that.

We took a spin around town, visiting the cathedral, third biggest in the world after the Vatican and Saint Paul’s. They have the plaque to prove it. Other than its size there was nothing really curious about it. It had the usual amazing gold leaf covered chapels, soaring ceilings and organ for giants. We visited the treasury and climbed the tower. The most important treasure I thought was the tomb of Columbus. Apparently, he's well traveled in death as well. He started out buried in Spain, then Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Cuba and now back to Spain. Where will his next trip be? Those guys carrying him must be getting tired.

The church was built on the site of an old mosque, surprise, surprise. The tower is the last remnant of the mosque so there is no stairway to the top but rather a ramp. This was so the guy who had to give the call to prayer five times a day could ride his horse up. The tower was really the most interesting piece of the cathedral. From the outside we could see where the Moors had used Roman stones to lay the foundation of the tower. The stones were much bigger than the bricks produced by the Moors and some of the stones still had Latin inscriptions on them. Rick said the tower represented the history of the city with a Roman foundation, a long period of Muslim occupation and then a Christian cap. The very top of the tower now houses bells and a huge statue of some Christian type figure whose name I can’t remember. Obviously impressive, though.

We also visited the Alcazar, a palace that is still in use by the royal family. We didn’t see their private apartments because we wouldn’t pony up the extra cash to do it. The lower floors were interesting in an “Alhambra-esque” way. Lots of tile, geometric patterns, open courtyards, Muslim looking arches and so on. The most interesting thing about this is that it was built by Christians in the Moorish style. The tile is geometric in many places but also has lots of images of animals and people. The Muslims don’t believe in recreating images created by God. The best part about the Moorish palaces is the garden areas. They always have such lovely open areas inside. This one also had a great garden in behind as well.

Our walk through the shopping district turned up Easter candy you’ll never find in North America. These are penitents. They wear the hood to hide their faces so others won’t know who is asking forgiveness in the parade. These people don gowns and parade through the streets at Easter to ask forgiveness for sins. It really has nothing to do with the KKK, although the thought of buying a sweet candy penitent didn’t sit well with any of us. There is a full size one on display at the grocery store near the Easter candy and Julia felt it was creepy looking. Hooded figures don’t exude charm or encourage one to linger at the chocolate area. Mind you, I suppose candy, children and horror costumes at Hallowe’en don’t exactly mix well either.

Right outside our hotel was a barber shop and Tom couldn’t resist having his hair cut by the barber of Seville. We had seen him in his show earlier on our trip, of course. He appeared older and slower but Tom got a good haircut, complete with shaving brush and straight-edge razor. I wanted to sing in the background and images of Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny kept racing through my head. However, the barber seemed a serious sort and as he held the razor, I felt restraint was the best order.

Before we left Sevilla, we did the Macarena. The Basilica of Macarena, for which the song is named, is in Sevilla. Its claim to fame is that it houses two of the most spectacular floats in the Easter parade. I’m not sure you call it an Easter parade here. During Holy Week, these huge floats are carried around town by men . Each man can be hoisting up to 100kg and it is a great honour to be selected for the task. In Malaga, Antonio Banderas has been selected this year to be one of the carriers of the float for his brotherhood. The darling of the parade is the Weeping Virgin, who has tears running down her cheeks. I couldn’t get close enough to show you the tears but apparently this inspires many to follow suit. I’m going to take a guess and say the kid with the interesting hat is Jesus. I thought briefly he was also holding a broom but he is NOT.

Our last stop was at Plaza Espana. We saw it on postcards so decided to check it out. This was a very pretty place. The huge government building has a circular water canal in front and you can rent a little boat to putt around in. The railings and lamp posts are all ceramic tile which was just lovely, though the pictures don’t show it off as well as I’d hoped. There was a little tile tribute to each of the provinces of Spain and we found Malaga, the province we are staying in and posed. The city itself was not appealing but the old town and sights were wonderful.


Mynnette said...

Jim and I are hysterical re the Barber of Sevilla. What a hoot you guys are.I think Europeans, at least northern ones, go to Malaga for the sun and beaches. At least we and a bunch of Germans were there when we lived in Luxembourg. said...

I too am laughing. Today, I wore my down jacket and was glad that I had it on. It is gloriously sunny but COLD. Good to talk with you and Rhys today and thanks for sending the rest or almost the rest of your itineary. Love Mom