Overture to Sevilla and Act I.
Trip Start Apr 20, 2012
33Trip End May 23, 2012
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Where I stayed
We pass through Opera Metro station with subterranean Roman arches and walls enclosed in glass cases to Madrid's Atocha Renfe station. This serves all country high speed lines to the south and has a memorial to the bombings in 2004 when three metro stations were attacked.
Today's AVE train - rated to 330km/hour - pulls out on the minute of 10.00am with a full load of passengers in our carriage at least. We are en route to Sevilla via Cordoba!
The countryside north of Cordoba is dry and reminiscent of Australia..
South of Cordoba, the country opens up to greener pastures with flocks of sheep and orange orchards.
Orange orchards as far as the eye can see!...
And all the time, the drizzle keeps falling from the grey skies.
The trip covering half the length of Spain is done in two and a half hours. for the first time this trip, we hail a taxi into town as recommended by the guidebook and a little over 8.00€ delivers us to Hotel Amadeus. The trip is somewhat harrowing while enthralling at the same time... the taxi drives along streets that are narrower than my rear lane at home! We are in the old part of town where these streets are known as 'kissing lanes' - not because that's what the locals get up to, but because the houses are almost close enough to!
We have been looking forward to this Hotel Amadeus, based on internet rankings and photos and it doesn't disappoint. Decorated in a Moorish style with colourful blue and yellow tiles, it also has a musical theme with violins and cellos hanging from the walls in the foyer. There is a baby grand piano in one corner and prints of musicians and sheet music on the walls.
All the rooms are named after composers and the keys have large brass violin or treble clef keytags
This afternoon, we walk to the nearby Sevilla Cathedral, the LARGEST GOTHIC CATHEDRAL IN THE WORLD! Only St. Paul's in London and The Vatican are larger, but they are of the later Renaissance era.
Sevilla Cathedral actually started life as a mosque and minaret in 1181-1198, complete with an orange tree courtyard. In 1218 it was consecrated as a cathedral and Gothic renovations started in 1434. One hundred years later, the minaret tower was extended up by another 50% to form a gothic spire. All works were completed in 1928! This makes it a fascinating blend of Arabic and Gothic architectures with extensive Catholic influences such as icons and side chapels.
The tower is of particular interest because it contains not stairs but a ramp winding around the tower 34 times. This was to allow the Muslim clergyman to ride a horse up the tower to call followers to prayer five times a day! This ramp then continued in the extension (at a gentler pitch!) to the bell tower in the top.
The climb affords stunning views over Sevilla - and a deafening indication that the bell still works if you are there on one of the quarter hours! The sun obliges by appearing with some blue sky for a snap or thirty with the cathedral.
At this stage - around 4pm - we realise we haven't had lunch! In fact, nothing since our 8am breakfast, so the nearest tapas bar serves us a light snack and coffee before we continue.
From the cathedral, we walk at a gentle pace through the Plaza del Triunfo past numerous colourful and historic houses, shops, palazos and churches down to the Guadalquivir River, past the famous Sevilla bullring then back towards the centre of the old town.
By now, it is after 7pm, a gelati is in order and a bathroom with a spa bath awaits tired legs!