logo Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Date: 31 Aug 2009 19:45:56
Title: Seville ( a long entry to do justice to such a great place)

Thursday 27th August

 

Paul collected the hire car (a Renault Megane) at 9 this morning and by 10 we were ready to set off.  Seville is 120 kilometres from Ayamonte so we were glad the car had air conditioning because it was already hot and the day was predicted to be the hottest day of the year.  The countryside on either side of the E1 motorway proved to be quite dull so not much to see on the two hour journey.  Seville is over 2,000 years old and is the fourth largest city in Spain as well being the artistic, cultural and financial capital of Southern Spain – and is also known for being one of the hottest cities in Europe in summer. As we drew nearer we saw the vastness of it from a high point on the motorway.  Following the signs for the city centre, we drove along a very long, wide and busy road which had lovely buildings and parks on either side of it.  We realised we’d hit the centre when we saw several tour buses, car parks and tourist information signs but instead of going straight into a multi storey car park we drove a bit further on to see if there were any outside parking areas.  Obviously guessing what we were looking for as we slowed by a likely place, a friendly, Spanish man beckoned us in and he and Paul had an amusing conversation with confusion on both sides, which resulted in paying him 5 euros to park for the whole day in a dusty area just off the main road.  He also pointed us in the right direction for tourist information and that’s where we headed for first to get a map.

 

The first places on our list to visit were the Plaza de Espagne, built especially for the 1929 World’s Fair and the adjacent Parque Maria Luisa.  It was very hot as we began our walk there and an information sign in the middle of a roundabout flashed up 42 degrees – hotter than anywhere I’ve ever been!  We were coping though and it was only a 15 minute walk.  The exposition building in the Plaza de Espagne was really impressive, not least because of the massive scale of it.  According to Wiki it’s the epitome of the Moorish revival in Spanish architecture.  It’s a huge semi-circle of beautiful buildings, constructed to host industry and technology exhibits and also has a moat with several pretty bridges, all set off by a magnificent fountain in the centre.  I took the first of many photos here as we looked around.  The park was fantastic – very well-kept and had lots colourful flowers and plants, lush trees, lakes with a variety of bird species and more pretty bridges and fountains.  We saw the first of the numerous horse and carriage rides which are all over Seville.  The heat was increasing and it was becoming almost unbearable to be out of the shade so we agreed to Gabriel and Isaac’s suggestion that we hire a eurobike (a kind of double tandem with a sun shade).  This turned out to be great fun as well as keeping us in the shade and we were able to see the whole of the park in the 30 minutes we had it for.  After that we walked to some of the more attractive places in the park and while Paul and I were looking at some birds, the boys went to look and a row of fountains and ended up running through them, as well as wading in the pool below them in an effort to cool off.  While Paul reprimanded them for getting soaked I couldn’t help feeling envious and wished I could do the same but Paul and I eventually got a refreshing shower by running through water sprinklers that were watering the trees.

 

All hungry by 3 o'clock we braved the heat to find a place to eat.  We stopped at the first one we came to near the park and ended up paying an awful lot of money for three filled rolls and a rather strange-looking ham omelette which consisted mainly of broad beans.  It was nice to be in the shade, though and the food and cold drinks refreshed us sufficiently to brave the heat an hour later to proceed to our next destination – The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world, built to demonstrate Seville’s wealth in 1402.  It’s in the heart of the city centre – and its richly carved roof and tower (the Giralda) were visible above the surrounding modern shops and buildings as we approached the centre 30 minutes later.  We were all impressed by it and eager to go inside but this was not to be because it closed at 4 and it was almost 5 by this time so unfortunately a look at the interior will have to wait until another time.  There was nothing else for it but to look round the centre – lots more horse and carriage rides, the usual tourist shops which I was disappointed to see sold awful furry bulls with small spears in their backs – bad taste as well as being ugly.  It’s a lovely city despite this: very clean and the trams were nice, as were the shops displaying the beautiful flamenco dresses and elaborate fans associated with the dance. 

 

By 6 the heat was at its most intense and after a walk over to the river that runs through the city I began to wilt, I thought I was going to keel over (drama queen that I am) so we took shelter for an hour in an air-conditioned café with cold beer and cokes.  It was more bearable by the time we came out and we walked slowly back to the car admiring the lovely old buildings, taking lots of photos and browsing the shops.  The sun went down on the drive back and lit the sky a fiery red which was a gorgeous sight and seemed such an apt end to our visit to Seville on the hottest day of the year.


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