We left our boat this morning and headed to Seville by local bus. We were told the journey would be about an hour and a half - it was actually about 2 and a half but we arrived at the hotel about 1pm. After checking in an quick shower we went exploring. Following a large sale on e-bay of a load of dive kit and other junk gathering dust we had some money to spend so we checked into the 5* Hotel Alfonso XIII. As it is August the rooms are cheaper because all the locals leave the city due to the heat and head to the beach. Today was in fact the hottest recorded so far - we had temperatures of 45 degrees! The hotel is fabulous and the decor is stunning. It was built as a palace a few hundred years ago around an open air courtyard which is now the restaurant. The walls are covered in mosaics and the interior design is beautiful with antique wooden furniture in the rooms and carved wooden ceilings and bedsteads.
As soon as we left the hotel we were struck by how beautiful the city is and the architecture. Doug had told us Seville was his favourite city and it is easy to see why. We started with a tour round the cathedral which is the third biggest church in the world, after St Peter's in Rome and St Paul's in London. The cathedral also has a tower from the top of which there are fabulous views of the city which make the 34 flights of stairs to the top almost acceptable! The tower is arabic in style as it was once the minaret of the mosque. The tower houses 24 bells, one for each district in the city. The cathedral is also the final resting place of Christopher Columbus.
A view from the top of the cathedral tower.
Puerto de Jerez - the square near the hotel
Lunch was a quick snack, tapas style. When we walked past the restaurant there was a strange, almost smoky, haze outside which looked a bit concerning at first and then we realised that from underneath the sun shades water was being sprayed very lightly to cool you down whilst you ate - brilliant!
After lunch we jumped on a hop on- hop off bus tour to see all the sights in one go and get a feel for the city. The bus tour took us over the river to Triana, the old gypsy quarter, and around the main sites in the city, including all the buildings built for the Expo in 1929. The big Ibero -American Expo held in Seville was used to celebrate trade links between Spain and America (North & South). Each country involved built a pavillion in the architectural style of their country to showcase their particular trade. They are now mostly used by the Spanish Government as offices.
The bull ring - unfortunately we have missed bull fighting season for this year - it takes place in spring/ early summer following the huge Seville festival in April/May which is the Feria de Abril. There are also bull fights on special occasions throughout the summer but this week isn't one of those!!
Dinner tonight was tapas in the Jewish quarter - Barrio Santa Cruz. There were loads of bars and restaurants and our favourite was St Teresa which had lots of jamon (Iberian ham) hanging up ready for use. They used a single knife for the ham and reused and re-sharpened the knives until they were paper thin and then displayed them on a board in the bar. The food was lovely - fresh and tasty. After a romantic interlude in the Jardin de Murillos listening to a busker playing flamenco, it was time for home via another tapas bar for wine and cheese.