Sevilla <3 real Spain
I got to the train station in Madrid pretty early and inquired into changing my ticket for an earlier one. It worked and I arrived in Sevilla 2 hours earlier than I had planned.
Walking to the hostel
With my nice preloaded google map (since I don’t have 3G connection on my ipod) I made my way to the hostel which is situated right in the middle of the old part of town. I almost got lost but I didn’t mind because every corner I turned I was more amazed and in love with the city. Seville is what I envisioned Spain to be. Small streets, colourful houses, orange trees everywhere, small squares, tapas, flamenco and so on.
Sevilla Inn Backpackers
When I found the hostel I checked in and I ate a quick snack on the rooftop terrace. My bag actually fits in the locker, the staff is friendly, the bed comfortable and even though internet is not so good in the rooms and it’s cold, it’s one of the hostels I’ve been in. And cheap! So there you go, I’m not completely depressed, I just didn’t have a nice time in Madrid.
As I arrived early I was on time to go do the free walking tour (and when they free is more a “pay what you want” tour as they all are 😉 ). I was really happy because I really didn’t expect to have time to visit Sevilla on my arrival day. We had a really happy and interesting guide, so I enjoy the city even more now.
The tour started in front of the Cathedral, which I’ve come to know is the 3d biggest one in the world, after St Peter in the Vatican, and St Paul in London. It’s the biggest gothic cathedral and I sadly didn’t get to visit inside because of weird schedules. Part of the cathedral is the Giralda, an old Moorish tower that survived an earthquake.
We got an anecdotic story of a girl that out of love for a catholic soldier betrayed her fathers plan to overthrow the catholics. Her whole family was murdered and feeling guilty she retreated to a covent. When she died she asked that her head be placed in the window of her old house to remind people of how bad she felt for what she had done. A skull tile still marks the house.
Jardines de Murillo
Around the corner of an old roman aqueduct we walked in the garden of Murillo, named after a spanish painter. The garden holds the oldest tree (of a certain kind … that I can’t remember the name of) imported from America by Cristobal Columbus. It is HUUUUGE and very impressive.
She also gave us a funny story concerning the Queen Isabel and the king Fernando. Isabel was probably having an affair with Columbus so Fernando sent the guy to the other end of the world hoping he’d never come back. When he did though, the king became rich and Columbus famous, but eventually the queen died. Fernando remarried but was unable to have children so he ate bull testicles at every meal to help his case. He died of an indigestion of bull testicles. What an honorable death!
Plaza de Espana
After some walking we arrived in Plaza de Espana and my mouth fell open in awe. The square, which is shaped as a half moon, is gorgeous. The ceramics all over tell the story of Sevilla and all the other cites of Spain. It was built in 1929 to say sorry for what they did in America. I’m not sure how that works but oh well! The square was used in the movie Star Wars: Attack of the Clones with some modifications (like the roof, and they made it a full circle)
What you see in the picture is the symbol of the town hall of Sevilla. It has a funny story (It’s all those stories that make it worth going on tours through a city!). Now bare with me if I got some details wrong. Here’s a bit of history. Fernando III reconquered Spain from the moors and made it a catholic city. The Pope was very happy. His successor was Alfonso the Wise. As his name says, he was wise and was interested in all the cultures, moors and jewish included and didn’t listen as much to the church. His oldest son died and his second son not being intelligent enough for his father, Alfonso decided to change the law and make his grandson king. This angered the Son and the Pope and together they planned to kill Alfonso the wise. When the Spanish army surrounded Sevilla one morning the Townspeople of Sevilla decided to protect Alfonso so he wasn’t killed. He still lost his crown though. When he died he left that symbol to the town as a gift and it took them forever to decipher it. It turns out the symbol in the middle is what they tie around couples’ joined hands when they marry. And together NO, the name of that thing and DO, said with the Sevillan accent sounds like “She didn’t let me down” meaning the town of Sevilla supported him. Interesting isn’t it?
That was about it for the tour, I went to sleep early and the next day I woke up relatively early and set out again to see more of the city. I headed first to the water side because we didn’t walk that way the previous day. I saw the Plaza de Toros, the arena where the bull fights take place. It was surrounded with a bunch of toreadors statues. It was pretty nice looking and sad to think that they celebrate the killing of animals like this. I also enjoyed the riverside for a while until I reached Torre de Oro and then walked back towards the center.
University or Tobaco Factory
I walked through the University, which used to be a Tobaco Factory. It is also where Carmen, from the Opera, is said to work. I need to see that opera even more than before now!
My next stop was the royal palace, built in the moorish style. I thought I might as well see some moorish architecture here since the forecast for morocco for my whole stay is rain … The inside of the building was very impressive and different from what we might be used to. There was a lot of ceramic work as well as sculpted walls of very intricate patterns.
Jardines del Alcazar
The gardens were very big and very beautiful. There were a lot of orange trees again, which are just lovely to see contrasting against red flowers in the bushes bellow. I love the colors they add to the scenery. There were also number of small fountains and at least one pavilion. There were statues and different types of gardens and arrangements. I spent a long while walking around and enjoying the sight.
Walking through Seville
I walked some more in the streets, trying to absorb the most of that place although I’m sure it would be way more pleasant with warm weather instead of the cold that settled when I got there. I shopped some and enjoyed the general ambiance.
Parque Maria Luisa
My last visiting in Sevilla was down in the park beside the Plaza de Espana. I explored the different pavilions and nature and discovered the concept of outdoor library. In some of the pavilions were books that you could take and read but you were kindly requested not to leave with them. They belong to the public library. Nice concept!
Tomorrow I’m headed to Tangier. I have a bus at 9h30 and then a ferry at 17.00 and I’ll be staying a pretty central hotel (yes, hotel) for 5 nights. Hope all goes well and the forecast proves wrong! 9 days left to the adventure!