We finally entered the Reales Alcazares, the only royal palace in Europe still being used by the royal family (or so our guide said, though I was under the impression that places like Buckingham Palace were fully in use...). We split into groups again and walked through the many beautiful patios and rooms, many of which looked a lot like the Alhambra (no surprise, because when the Christian kings reconquered Andalucia, they just kept all the old Arabic palaces and just reused them for their own purposes)
. However, we saw a lot of typical Sevillana ceramics and some pretty cool rooms, such as the room where Columbus and Hernan Cortes were granted money and permission to go exploring. In the "tapestry room", we saw lots of giant tapestries from the 1400's, including one that showed a map of Andalucia and Africa and Italy.... upside down! Our guide explained that at that time, they still were not sure of orientation and geography, which was clear when we saw Andalucia at the bottom and Africa at the top, with Italy to the left, not right, of Spain. I thought it was pretty funny and started laughing, but I was the only one... either no one else found it that amusing, or they weren't paying attention (which I think is the more likely situation, given that I am usually the only one paying attention on these tours. Yes, I am a huge museum dork. Whatever). Our guide then took us through a really beautiful, tranquil patio with lily pads in the pond and nice little benches, a room he called "La Sala de Huesos" (the Bones Room). I thought this was pretty strange, until he explained that when this part of the palace was still in use, it was the room where they would hold trials and carry out punishments, such as beheading or cutting off hands, and then they would just throw the excess body parts in the pond. Once the pond was too full, they would empty out the bones, hence "the bones room". Not quite so tranquil after all. After taking about a million more pictures, we were done with our tour, and Nuria and Eva left for Madrid.
We had a little free time before our train left for Cadiz, so we went and got lunch before heading off the the train station. An hour and a half later (which seemed like much longer because the air conditioning broke in our car), Liz, Lauren, Kaitlin and I arrive in Cadiz and leave the station to find a cab. We get in the cab and I tell him (because I am always the spokesperson) "Hotel Miramar, Linea de la Concepcion", which I THOUGHT was the name of our hotel and the street
. He looks at me blankly and says "No, there is no Hotel Miramar in Cadiz". CRAP. I tell him I thought we saw it on the map, and he says no, that is Miramar street. What's more, he says Linea de la Concepcion is not a street in Cadiz, its a town about 100km away, but he will take us there for 143 euros. I say no, that's not going to work for us, and he tells us that no, he will just take us there. I insist that we do not want to pay 140 euros, so instead can he take us to the nearest Internet cafe. We find the number of the hotel at the internet cafe and call to see where they are. He tells me they are right outside Malaga. MALAGA?! THE WEBSITE SAID CADIZ! We are pissed. I tell him we are not going to come, and can he please cancel our reservation, which is does (though he must charge us some of the reservation). Most of our group was staying at the Senator hotel, so we head over there to see if we can crash in some of their rooms, since we are stuck in Cadiz with nowhere to sleep. Turns out they have already stuffed as many people as possible into a room, and the Senator is full, as is every other hotel we look at. We finally find a hostel right around the corner from the Senator for 30euros a night per person. Lauren and Kaitlin don't want to pay that much, but I insist that there is nothing else, and so we get a room there.
The room turns out to be really nice, more like an apartment-- 2 bedrooms, one with a queen bed and one with 2 beds, plus a private bathroom with a shower and toilet and sink
. We are totally pleased. By this time, it's around 9:30pm and we are tired and hungry, so we head out to find somewhere to eat and get a drink. We sit in a little plaza right by our hostel and get salmorejo, the Andalusian version of gazpacho with cream, and we order a bottle of wine, and spend a nice 3 hours sitting and talking. Around 1, we decide to go looking for a club, but we are too worn out to really do much, so we get ice cream at a little heladeria by our hotel and eat that in the plaza as well. As we are eating, an OLD lady comes shuffling past and asks us the time. We tell her it is 1:30am, and she exclaims "Que tempranito!" which means, "how early!" Early?! Who is this old woman?? We finish our ice cream and head back to the hostel to go to sleep.
Our last guided day in Sevilla began with another nice breakfast, and exactly at 10:30, we met at our meeting point in front of the cathedral. All trip, Nuria has been threatening to leave people behind if they are late, so after yelling at us for being 5 minutes late, we set off for the Reales Alcazares WITHOUT one of the boys, who had yet to arrive!! However, when we got there, the guard who was supposed to let us in wasn't there yet, so for all our hurry, we then had to stand in the sun for about 20 minutes. Still no sign of Charlie, though, poor kid. Nuria was PISSED.