Our entrance to Spain set the tone for our time in Sevilla – easy! After being in Morocco everything seems simple here. We got off the plane, picked up our luggage, stamped our passports, scanned our luggage at customs and were in a moving taxi within 15 minutes of touchdown! Seville isn’t a huge airport but that was still incredible efficiency. Our taxi was clean, brand new and comfy. The fare meter was built into the car navigation/audio system. No clunky thing stuck on the windshield here! It’s very relaxing to at least generally understand the systems and protocols. Jack even quipped “it’s nice being back where we understand the language!” After roughly 3 months in Spanish speaking South America the signs here do indeed seem normal.
Seville is one of the sunniest cities in Europe (or anywhere really) with something like 300 days of sunshine. Well we wouldn’t be able to vouch for that statistic. It poured for much of our time here.
Our first day we relaxed and had some much needed downtime in our well-equipped apartment. We found the grocery stores nearby and did a short walk around the neighborhood.
Having woken up to rain, again, we decided to find an indoor activity. The local aquarium turned out to be a great way to spend an hour or two. The design brought you through the waterways of local hero Ferdinand Magellan’s famous journey around the world. (I don’t think Arlington will have such a monument to our, much easier, journey :). The jellyfish exhibit was a standout for me. They had 4-5 tanks of truly mesmerizing creatures.
Exiting the aquarium into cloudy, not rainy, skies we endeavored to walk over to the Plaza de España – the host country’s pavilion from a long-ago World’s Fair. A gorgeous site, even in the torrential rain which started about 1/2 way there. Interestingly it is still a working government building with immigration offices and other misc functions. On the upside we got to see little used decorative spouts in action, and an empty plaza!
We also saw some other national pavilions from the fair including the very large Argentinian building, now a dance academy. The kids noticed the seal of Argentina on the front straightaway. It was very large, fitting for the enormous wealth of that country at the time. (It was one of the absolute richest places in the world in the early twentieth century).
We were now somewhat wet, but seeing the taxis were a 10 minute wait with a 10 euro surcharge for high demand on a 7 euro fare we decided to just walk the 18 minutes to our apartment. What’s a little water right? Well it only started raining harder; ours shoes squished, our underwear were drenched. It was not pretty. We happened upon a Starbucks and entered bedraggled as wet cats to purchase a snack and warm beverages. This totaled more than that “too expensive” taxi. Oops. The rain let up for our final push to the apartment. Our shoes would take 3 days to dry. We sported the “socks with Tevas” look for a few days as our penance for our stupidity!
A highlight for Steve and I, which was apparently pure torture for Nate was a flamenco show we went went to one evening at a museum in town. Set in a nice courtyard, the hour long show was spellbinding. More to come!
We also visited the cathedral that is either the biggest, second biggest or third biggest cathedral in the world (apparently they can’t quite decide how to measure). While not the most beautiful church I’ve ever been to, it certainly was huge with the added interest of retaining a minaret and courtyard of orange trees from the mosque it was built upon. It also houses the remains (at least most of them!) of Christopher Columbus. (Many places claim to have him, though apparently they have managed to dna test this set). His son is onsite as well. The tower is more easily climbable than most as it is a ramp!
Other activities included 2 maritime museums, one old small and classic in set up (though in an old tower!) and one very high tech and modern.
Our last stop*, but certainly not least was the Real Alcazar. Still an official royal palace (the Spanish royals still use some of it when in the area), it is the biggest attraction in Seville. Started in the 1300s and completed and added on to until the 1800s, its a mishmash of styles. However it works and is lovely. Most areas look like the tile work we saw in Morocco (not surprisingly!) and in some ways I felt Morocco should more get credit for this stunning spot, it was their ancestral culture that created it. Weirdly we didn’t get a chance to see anything on the same scale in Morocco, possibly as it was hidden (to us) in mosques.
*It wound up last as the site is free Mondays late in the afternoon. We reserved (for 1 euro each) these “free” tickets saving us a bunch of $. (You basically have to reserve in advance or it fills up. Free ends up as a misnomer but you still save a lot!).