ORANGES, FLAMENCO, MONUMENTS AND SUNSHINE
Trip Start Oct 05, 2009
325Trip End Oct 31, 2013
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Sunday and Monday
Weather: Sunny reaching 20 degrees at midday.
Seville is an old city, dating back to 8BC and was part of the Roman Empire in the time of Julius Caesar. The Muslims later conquered the city. By the 14th century it was an important Castilian city, the centre of trade to the American colonies in the next century with the River Guadalquivir alowing access from the Atlantic ocean.
Today Seville is a vibrant city of 700,000 people; it's made up of winding narrow lanes, vast monuments and thousands of cafes and restaurants; we are told that the tapas was invented here and you can believe it when you walk around and encounter tapas bars at every corner. Tapas is little morsels served with your drink and if you move from bar to bar you could probably feed yourself without buying a meal.
The streets are lined with orange trees and we have been lucky to experience intensely blue skies and mild temperatures. People fill the streets in the evening and siesta still seems to happen between 2 and 4pm.
We are just around the corner from the very trendy Alameda de Hercules where pedestrians and cafes rule and people hang out in the wide plazas. We have enjoyed some good coffees there and love watching the locals run their dogs and kids in the space.
With our new intention of eating in, we have created some great meals of Serrano ham, chorizo, goat cheese, green salad, local olives and fabulous artisan bread- good red wine is cheap and Sheila has made some good selections.
We have explored the city and really enjoyed the Santa Cruz area with its craft shops, tiny lanes and tapas bars; Catalina's was a good choice for beer and tapas.
The largest church in the world, Seville cathedral, Giralda is spectacular and of course huge, and we entered one of the chapels where locals were attending mass on Sunday.
Flamenco singers busking in the streets thrash out melancholy songs and there are quite a few homeless and beggars around the city.
The interesting thing about Seville is that the car has been banished from many streets, replaced by an electric tram, bicycle borrowing sytsem, widely used and people walking the the city streets. Apparently pollution has diminished and the new "green" concept has been welcomed. We admit it is a lovely city to walk and the noisy, honking sounds of traffic have gone! Great achievement.
Our apartment is about 10 minutes walk away from the centre and we have enjoyed choosing alternate routes to experience the attractive city.
A visit to Alcazar almost overwhelmed us- built as a fort in 913 it has been added to and rebuilt as residences for kings and rulers. It is beautiful and massive.
The gardens are enormous and you can feel the spirit of those who wandered here so long ago. The influence of the Moors is predominant and the colourful tiles and decoration is impressive. This is a must visit monument to the past.
Plaza de Espana, with its wonderful park and grandiose building was the venue for Seville's 1929 international fair and is a magic place to spend a few hours.
Is it possible that the whole city is a museum to the past? And everywhere the orange trees! And the oranges lie on the ground, uncollected. Googling the Seville orange tree we discover there are about 15,000 trees in the city giving shade, year round and delicious perfume in spring but the fruit is so bitter it is only good for marmalade and who has got time to make that?
This is an energetic city, full of colour and history, with surprises around every corner. We hear that people are unhappy with the strict economic measures taken by the government to reduce debt and know that there is 50% youth unemployment, but when you read the the history of this country and learn that Seville was once a great city, a centre of the New World of exploration and wealth, and how its fortunes have been up and down for over the years, you realise that the human spirit will survive and the Spanish people will live each day as it comes !