Spectacular Seville

31 12 2015

The high-speed train from Madrid to Seville was AWESOME. America is totally behind the times in terms of transportation. We flew through the countryside at about 186 mph in comfortable cars that definitely beat any economy airplane seat.

I felt so sofisticated tucked into my little seat between J and the window. I had grand plans of writing away the 3 hours to Seville, letting my imagination run wild through the Spanish countryside out my window, merrily making friends with the English family sitting in front of us….

Unfortunately, I was sound asleep before the train fully left Madrid. The change in time zones and schedules and my cold that was clinging on made sleep elude me the night before. The gentle sway of the train took care of that in a jiffy.

The train stations are super easy to navigate and we were in a nice Prius taxi zooming off to our next AirB&B in no time. I needed no more convincing that Spain is a lovely country, but Seville threw in its two cents anyway, adding more and more to my list of things to adore, just from  the cab window! After a bit of a scare when our taxi had a bump-in with a scooter, we settled into our new apartment and dashed out the door.

It was Christmas Eve, after all, and places had different operating hours than normal. And we had things to do! Well, specifically, I had a castle to conquer: Real Alcazar.

The first section was a castle built in the 900s by the Moors. Christians took over at some point and various royals added their own touches. Extensive gardens go on and on and various patios, niches, and hidey holes took a while to explore. The intricate tile patterns made me dizzy but I loved the baths underneath and the patios around every corner. We spent a considerable amount of time here and even bought some postcards!

Alcazar, Sevilla Spain

I now declare this Castillo de Kalista!

Seville was once one of the most major cities of the area. Isabella and Ferdinand met with Columbus here, after his second voyage, at Alcazar! Trade with the new world was regulated exclusively through Seville’s ports! There’s a piece of a Roman aqueduct still standing in the city!! So many things.

We spent a lot of time wandering the beautiful streets, admiring the architecture and the Christmas decorations and the interesting people. We found another mercado that had stalls of tapas and wine and enjoyed some more incredible food. I love these places, with ham hocks hanging from the ceiling and happy folks congregating around the groups of tables. Such a warm ambiance.

Christmas morning came and went…we slept right through it! We knew everything would be closed anyway so we didn’t bother to wander outside til evening. Back down to the old plaza by the castle, we slowly circled the grand cathedral, soaking in the expansive wonders. It’s the largest Gothic cathedral in Europe and ridiculously intricate and ornate on the outside. We knew it was closed today so we were just admiring the outside…

Then I saw a line of people going in a side door! Hoping for maybe a quick walk around this side chapel or a glimpse into the big chapel, we slipped through the door…and accidentally joined Mass. The priest said the opening prayers as J and I quickly stood in front of a pew as though we belonged. We took a minute to gape at the incredible alter and stained glass and paintings – and this was just a side chapel!! – before sneaking back out the door to the street. Oops.

I wanted to see inside the main part, especially the tomb of Christopher Columbus, but we didn’t manage to make it happen. I so wanted a picture to show my 5th graders – they’re studying the explorers right now!

image

We did some more exploring of the city, passing some more grand buildings and fountains and statues. The sun set over the river in a blaze of color as we strolled down the main avenue, trying to guess what was on the other side of the wall we walked next to. Flowers draped over the edge and every once in a while, a domed tower or spired rooftop would poke into view. We passed a stadium used for the great bull fights (a Plaza de Toros), and a fancy building with a concert on the steps. We entered a huge park, quiet and empty in the dark, save for a few runners.

Then BAM! A building such as I had never seen stretched before my eyes. A tower at each end and an enormous fountain in the front, I was immediately convinced I had found the royal palace. I don’t even have the words to tell you of the intricate details that made this place so stunning – I just stared and stared. A little water canal ran the length of it, with pretty bridges crossing to the building. Balconies and columns and mosaic tilework…. Straight out of a fairytale. We found a staircase to climb up to a second story balcony and I was absolutely in heaven. Whatever this majestic place is, I was ready to move in!!!

We finally ventured back towards our apartment, my head full of dreamy stories. We tucked through back alleys and tiny streets, hoping to come across the secret local flamenco club, but they weren’t having a show that night. Ah well, we had to get up early the next morning.

And up early we were, to try one last time for the cathedral. A no-go yet again, we settled for mini ham sandwiches and a cab ride to the train station, we braced ourselves for the next leg of the trip: we rented a car for a road trip to Ronda!!! I was sad to leave this beautiful city and all its history. I hope we meet again, Sweet Sevilla! Hasta luego!

*Stayed tuned for the next exciting chapter!

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