Week 26 – A wet start but then Seville

  • We started the week with a showery Saturday, but as we are determined to keep fit we did our 10 km Marbella walk anyway. We only found one person on the beach – a lonely sand sculptor.
Three weeks ago the corniche was pumping, now it’s a just a few hardy Scandinavian and English tourists
Just the activity for a wet Saturday – although not many crocodiles in Spain
  • Sunday we headed through a very heavy thunderstorm to Castellar de la Frontera near Gibraltar. The storm passed over and we had a lovely lunch and afternoon with Sonya and Tonio at Origen Castellar restaurant, (owned by Tonio’s brother). Sonya, (cousin of my friend Dorothy), is from Melbourne and husband Tonio from Spain. We had lots of delicious vegetable dishes, a welcome change from the very meat oriented Spanish “tourist” food.
L to R: Grant, Adrienne, Sonya, Tonio
  • Monday was back to sunny so we headed for the old town in Marbella. When we came to here in 2007 we found Plaza de los Naranjos and it is still a beautiful public space – gardens, orange trees and lots of lovely outdoor cafes and classy shops. It really is a most inviting place – we find ourselves lamenting daily about the short-sighted, mean spirited, politicians and bureaucrats in Australia who do not see the need or benefits of human scale, inviting, community social space in their town planning.
Adrienne in Plaza de los Naranjos
The small church next to the plaza
  • This week we headed off for another road-trip and drove up the steep highway past Ronda and on to Seville. We were blown away – Seville is a beautiful town, full of stunning buildings and huge, well kept gardens and public spaces.
  • We had a few adventures trying to find our apartment but decided to park and take a taxi – great idea, Adrienne – as the old town is a complete maze.
    Our street – not for out of town drivers

    Turn around and you have the “shack” at the bottom of the road
  • I could write pages and add all of the 50 odd photos I took, but to start with the “shack” – Seville cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral on earth, and quite literally is head-spinning in it’s size and beauty – this really is a “bucket list” place.
    The front facade – mercifully not melted by acid rain like many in northern Europe
    No single photo can capture the immense size and grandeur
    One of the dozens of “smaller” side chapels and alcoves
    These objects are all solid gold with emeralds the size of dove eggs. They were “gifted” by the most generous Cardinal of Mexico – no mention of where he got all the gold and precious stones!! And there were many cabinets of these artefacts.
    Another side chapel – the carvings are all covered in gold leaf – Seville was the jump off point for Christopher Columbus – these sailors did well in claiming the Americas for Spain!
    The long axis – use the people in the bottom left corner as yardsticks to understand the sheer enormity of this magnificent edifice

    Adrienne is going to remodel the quad at James Ruse High based on the square outside the cathedral
  • We did the open top tourist bus – a glorious warm day about 28oC – what’s not to like about a city of beautiful buildings and wide tree lined boulevards?
Many of the city buildings have Moorish influence and are stunning – the Islamic builders of 800 years ago were certainly more far sighted and talented than today’s ISIS fools
Torre del Oro – built in 1220 A.D. – Gladys, (NSW Premier), would have had it down by 1240 A.D. – lucky Seville is not in Sydney
  • Next up – Plaza de Espana – and to suggest that Adrienne “was going left AND right” is a complete understatement – this is a landmark building lined with ceramic tiles representing every province of Spain, and just blew us away. One photo cannot do it justice so have attached a video. This is a city of 700,000 in a country that has struggled economically in recent times, but it is proud and vibrant and we have fallen in love with Seville!! Please watch the video.
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Still in use for government departments
The view looking out from the centre – the Spanish love a fountain framed by a portico, (and so do I)
Your intrepid writer is sitting here looking like a twat because we are quite proprietorial about the Camino de Santiago and we departed from Sarria in Lugo province, (bottom centre)
Looking back to the centre portico
  • We then walked into the Parque de Maria Luisa – defined on google as “Sizeable, prominent park featuring scenic plazas with landscaped gardens, plus fountains & monuments” – and nature girl was in heaven
No, I can’t build this in our backyard
Or this ….
Or one of these …
  • But after all this we arrived back in the old town and I could not resist –
“The Barber of Seville” (see opera)
Grant – I hummed Rossini while getting the grey locks cut – crass but enjoyable, especially because he spoke more English than the bloke in Ostuni!!
  • After such a huge day we needed beer and red wine so we went in hard, (channelled Bruce and Paul), and found a place that served good Italian food with loads of atmosphere. Great pizza and even some Italian beer.
It’s only been operating since 1386 – but the pizza was really good
  • The next morning was planned to be the “Royal Alcazar of Seville”, reputed to be the finest Moorish palace outside of the Alhambra, but I’m afraid the outside photo is all we got – the queue was about 2 hours long, and we don’t do that sort of time in the hot sun …
Check the queue and it went about 200 meters back around the corner – we should have booked on line!
  • So we sat in a cafe on our street and people watched. I have to say we saw a number of “old people” in tour groups, and we thought the poor sods looked like groups of walking cadavers – being dragged about while being force-feed endless info they would never remember – all when they would rather just have a glass of rioja and a sit down … do they know where they are and what day it is? We are so happy to have made the decision to travel when we are physically and mentally able to appreciate it all at our own pace, but we’ll cover that in our reflection piece in a few weeks.
  • We did some shopping, (who would have thought), and headed for home through the spectacular gorges below Ronda. We have a few rest days and next week are off to Lisbon in Portugal on a week long road trip.


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