Tuesday, June 22, 2010


June 18 - Arcos de la Frontera to Sevilla

The next day, we packed up and headed for Sevilla. We took the super-highway, which has a speed limit of 120 kph. But many cars travel at 160 kph or more. I tend to drive somewhere in between. It took less than two hours to get there.

We had reservations in the old part of Sevilla at the Hotel Las Casas de los Mercadores (House of Merchants). We gave up trying to find the hotel by car because of the one-way, narrow streets. We aimed for as close as we could get to the hotel found a parking garage and walked the rest of the way.

After checking in we found that we were very near the main square, the cathedral and the Giralda. One thing we noticed walking around was all the orange trees that lined the streets. Unfortunately, none seemed eatable because they probably don’t get much water.

We visited several sights around the city. The cathedral was unique. Built over the course of a hundred years (1402-1506),  it’s a massive and ornate Gothic building with gargoyles, spires and numerous arches. (It’s advertised to be the largest Gothic cathedral in the world.)

Within the perimeter of the cathedral is the Giralda, which used to be a minaret of a mosque that once was on the very site. (In this area of Spain where the Moors once reigned, apparently, mosques were converted to cathedrals, once the Catholic Kings re-took the region. (I suppose, that’s better than destroying these marvelous works.) It’s quite a hike up to the top of the Giralda, but it’s a marvelous panoramic view of the city. Huge bells hang all around the top - this is not a place to be at noon!

The other place we really enjoyed in Sevilla was the Plaza de Espana. We were surprised they didn’t charge to get in. Beautiful architecture, the building consists of a half circle. Around it, each of the provinces of Spain are represented, all done in exquisitely colorful tiles with geographical depictions of each region. People from a particular province will come and hang out on their spot and want their picture taken with the name of their province. 

We had drinks in the Barrio de Santa Cruz (Juderia) - it’s quite the lively spot with lots of narrow walkways, bars, restaurants and stores. Apparently, the Jews and the Moslems got along just fine way back then. Jews held many positions in local government and were lawyers and judges.

On one of the evenings we went to a Flamenco  performance at a small venue down the street from the hotel. As much as we knew of Flamenco, it seemed to be a marginal performance. The singer was obese, the guitarist a bit young yet capable enough, the female dancer, aging but could still kick up her heels while the male dancer was the most impressive. It seemed like an odd match up of performers. Of course, the primary concept about Flamenco is that one needs to appreciate the sad, anguished, wailing cries of the woman singing. Other than that, we loved it.  

The following day, driving out of Sevilla to Cordoba was a snap - we had managed to get detailed instructions from the hotel clerk before leaving!

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