Day 8, 9 & 10 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 21, 22 & 23 Monday-Wednesday

I’ve gotten a bit behind on my blogging, so it’s just the facts, only the facts. No time (or memory ) for the details. Sorry :(.

On Monday, May 21st we took a train to Cordoba…a town where there is a big cathedral that fell under the rule of both Muslim’s and Christians over the ages. The Cathedral and former Great Mosque of Córdoba, in ecclesiastical terms the “Catedral de Nuestra Señora de la Asunción” (English: Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption), and known by the inhabitants of Córdoba as the Mezquita-Catedral, is today a World Heritage site and the cathedral of the Diocese of Córdoba. It is located in the Andalusian city of Córdoba, Spain. It took us just over an hour to get there by train from Sevilla. The interior really reflects both religions, going from the traditional Christian paintings and statues, then transitioning to the more typical Muslim architecture of domes and archways as each conqueror added on to the building…”making it their own”, ha. Saying it was HUGE is an understatement. It’s pretty hard to describe so you’ll just have to look at the pictures. After touring around the cathedral and walking the grounds (and working up a hunger), we stopped for lunch at a pretty little place with an inside courtyard as their restaurant. We ordered a variety of tapas…some shrimp, olives, chorizo, BULL meat, and a salad. We then continued on and walked, and walked, and walked all over this town. We finally took the train back home where we were exhausted! TOO exhausted to go out on the town for dinner so we opted instead to stop at a little market to pick up some snacks and then came back home to our room and had dinner in bed :).

On Tuesday, May 22nd we explored some more of Sevilla, walking through the large park on our way back down to Plaza de Espana to get a closer look at all the tile work. Each providence is represented in tiles so it was fun taking pictures of all the places we’ve been visiting and will be visiting here in Spain….especially the Valencia tiles! Being so pooped from the previous day, it wasn’t long before we needed a stop for some refreshments…Sangria time! We found one little place that had tables under a HUGE tree (lots of HUGE trees here in Sevilla), and kicked back for about an hour resting our feeties….and calves, and shins, and knees. Afterwards, we took a ride in a horse drawn carriage around town, asking him to specifically deliver us back near our hotel so we didn’t have that long walk back. This really helped because I was then finally feeling refreshed enough to go out and have a nice dinner! Our horse was such a trooper too on this hot sunny day! We later ventured out for dinner and decided on a little place that had a Spanish guitar player playing inside. It wasn’t exactly a tapas restaurant, but rather a very nice Italian place! It looked like a little hole in the wall until we walked inside the cave like opening and found that it had a whole other section upstairs. We thought the change in pace in food might be good, and after all, (according to the pictures in their entry), if it was good enough for Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz to eat at, then it was certainly good enough for our lowly selves. We shared a salad of warmed goat cheese with a honey vinaigrette dressing. Oh my, it was heavenly. MUST make this at home! Joey ordered the ravioli in a bolognaise sauce and I had the roasted pork with sherry sauce. Both were excellent. Adding a bottle of wine to share made this a very special dinner.

On Wednesday, May 23rd, we walked back over to the train station for a day trip to Jerez de la Frontera and Cadiz…(Jerez pronounced “haired-ee” and Cadiz pronounced “kah’-dee”….of course in your best Spanish accent!). It took about an hour or so to get to Jerez where we walked and walked into the downtown area. This town was pretty neat, it had a fantastic fish and meat market in the middle of the old town area. They had some of the strangest fish we have ever seen sold at a fish market! Lots of eyeballs, teeth and snouts! Also, outside in the streets, people were selling bags of these tiny little snails like we might see clams being sold…in plastic netted bags, ready to be taken home and thrown in the pot of seasoned boiling water. They also had the larger snails as well. AND, some tiny little slivers of silvery crustaceans about an inch long that if you watched them closely, they jump! I tried to get it on video so hopefully you can see it. No clue WHAT they do with those! We stopped for lunch at an outdoor café (pretty much they’re all outdoors…), we shared another salad and Joey had paella and I had the meatballs. Nice little lunch spot, came with a bottle of wine and dessert! I had the flan and Joey had rice pudding. Off we go again and after finally finding our way over to some bodega’s where they make the famous Spanish Cream Sherry’s, we inquired about doing a tasting and it turns out you are required to take their tour in order to taste. Well…with my now aching feet (they tire earlier and earlier each day), we decided to skip the tour and tasting because I didn’t think I could handle another step. We finally caught a cab back to the train station where we hopped on again to continue on to Cadiz, a pretty little coastal town on the west coast of Spain. Again, we took a cab to the beach area and immediately slipped off our shoes, rolled up my skirt, and walked along the edge of the water, refreshing our feet and ankles in the cool ocean water. This is a pretty small beach (compared to our California beaches), so the walk was short, but the beaches were pretty packed with locals sunning themselves. After rinsing the salty water off, we tiptoed over to a park bench and laid in the sun to let them dry. Okay, well Joey sat while I laid my head in his lap, feet elevated. After almost falling asleep, we finally felt a little refreshed, certain we could go on for another 15 minutes or so and slowly strolled over to a beach side café and sat and had a drink, just watching the people and looking out at the many boats in the bay.


Day 7 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 20, Sunday

There must be something in these sheets (like Dorothy in the poppy fields ;)), but I have been sleeping soooo good! Luckily today we have the window open in our room and the church bells have been going off like crazy so they woke me up at 8am! And then of course, they go off at 9am too….for a long time! I think mass must be starting. Darn, missed it. Oh well, was hoping they’d have multiple services today, since it’s Sunday here and all, but we never made it.

We did however get a nice vente Starbucks coffee and walked around most of the morning. We also bought our tickets to a flamenco show! We found out that one of the best places to see the flamenco is right on the ground floor at our hotel…how perfect. Tonight the “fantastic Pastora Galván dances”. She was voted best female flamenco dancer by Spanish critics last year so this was promised to be a special treat for us. “Pastora Galván is from Sevilla, baby sister to the most cutting edge flamenco dancer today, Israel Galván, and daughter of old school living flamenco legend José Galván. Pastora was arguably the greatest star of the last edition of the Bienal in Sevilla, the largest and most prestigious flamenco festival in the world. Tonight she is performing together with her husband Cristian Guerrero on cante/song. You will also see young dancer Antonio Molina “El Choro” and Pedro Sánchez on guitar.” Does this mean anything to you? No? Me either, but it’s what I was told by an expert on the subject and lives right here in Sevilla :).

We started out on our walk this morning and found ourselves at a large park area and there was a festival of sorts going on. Kind of a Medieval type of event, with lots of vendors selling their arts and crafts, and lots of food as well. Joey quickly spotted a Gyro place and he ordered one for himself, and I had some kind of couscous fritter thingie. Both were excellent. We stopped to watch a knife juggler on a stage for awhile, but not understanding a word he said we decided to move on, ha ha. We stopped at one little stand selling sangria and each got a glass. Then we noticed some big bbq roasting place with all kinds of meat on these large round spinning grills. There were pigs and ribs, black sausage and pig snouts…really yummy stuff! Well most of it anyway. We noticed a lot of people were getting a plate of octopus so we decided to try some. It came on a plate of boiled potato slices, and topped with chunks of octopus sprinkled with a little chili powder and salt. I don’t know how they do it, but they really know how to cook their octopus! It’s not rubbery at all! We also ordered a plate of “Los pimientos de Padron”…little roasted green chili’s that are very mild. We have seen them everywhere and they are tasty little suckers. We couldn’t finish everything but we tried! As we left the festival, we came upon one guy who had all these endangered species type birds perched and tethered on posts. We were literally three feet from them. They were BEAUTIFUL, but being a bird lover, it made me kinda sad…especially when some of them flapped their wings and wanting to fly away :(.

We then walked over to the river…the “Guadalquivir River”. It’s a big winding river where you can take river boat day cruises. We also came upon “Plaza de Espana, a gigantic place…a real “palace”…lots of beautiful tile work all around. I plan to go back there and see much more and take more pictures of all the pretty mosaic tile work. Pretty much everywhere you turn you will see something old and beautiful….and many people in horse drawn carriages as well. It’s been a bit of a gloomy day here today, sunny but cloudy at times, and we even got some sprinkles at one point on our walk around town. Also some pretty strong winds came through here, but they passed pretty fast. Only once did we have to duck into a coffee shop to wait out the rain for about five minutes.

We then headed back to our hotel for a rest where I was grateful for a chance to wash my feet! It’s dirty and wet out there and of course I am in sandals. I also spent some time searching out where the bus and train stations are because we’re hoping to take a couple of day trips outside of Seville over the next couple of days. Our plan is to visit Cordoba and Jerez. Our tickets to the flamenco show were for the 10:30pm show…early here in Sevilla. But after our big lunch today, we decided to skip dinner and just head to the show to get in line before 10pm. Good thing because we got front row seats! It’s just a small venue, maybe 75 people, but still, pretty cool to have grabbed these great seats.

What can I say about the flamenco show? Ess Eee Ex Why! Sooo sexy! I don’t understand how they can move like that! And trust me, Joey and I tried going back up in the elevator to our hotel, lol. No bueno! We stopped, fearing we would send the old elevator to its death, us along with it! But it certainly was a highlight of our trip so far, very cool to watch. And I just loved the Spanish guitar player. I’ve never seen fingers move so fast! They didn’t allow pictures to be taken during the show, but they said we could take them during the last five minutes. Well…everyone did, and flash bulbs were going off everywhere as you will see in the video. But it’s a good thing they didn’t allow it during the whole show. I don’t know what else to say about the show because I think you just had to be there. Fantastico! Clap, clap, tap, tap tap, stomp!

Anyway, we have to call it an early night because the train to Cordoba was at 9am the next morning! So after a quick cup of decaf cappuccino and some cheesecake to share, off to bed we go at 12:30am….


Day 6 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 19, Saturday

Today we woke up at 1:30pm…yep One Thirty PM! And I think we went to bed just after 1am so that is a LOT of sleep! But boy was it needed, we slept sooo good! We got up and threw some clothes on and headed out to the streets of Sevilla in search of some coffee. We thought we saw one place that had “regular” sized cups…you know, nice big American sized coffees but no such luck, those large cups were just for hot chocolate apparently. Oh well, café con leche would have to do, even if it meant we ordered two. We also stopped at the ATM for some much needed cash, and Joey also got some churros.

As we headed back to our hotel, we stopped for another cup of coffee and also got something on the menu that said Iberian ham, hardboiled egg, and olive oil. Okay, I could use some protein, so this would have to suffice. For some reason, they don’t do a lot of over-easy eggs here. Well…what came turned out to be some sort of cold soup, a thick bisque like broth that kinda had a tomato taste, but also tasted a bit like hummus….so I don’t know, maybe a bean like base? It had a bit of chopped hard boiled egg on top, with a smattering of crispy dried ham. It was pretty tasty, but not at all what I was expecting, ha.

Afterwards, we came back to our hotel with a plan to shower up for the day but we were slow moving so that didn’t happen for another hour or so. Instead we just sorta hung out in our room, sipping on Cava (Spanish champagne), and went through various tour brochures trying to figure out how to spend our week here in Sevilla. Eventually we got ready for our day, which turned out to be our evening. I tried Skyping with each of my kids, but none of them were online, but I eventually got Claudia online and chatted with her. Kinda cool. Still hoping to Skype with my Isabella, although she’s not a fan of looking at the computer screen for some odd reason.

Soon we were headed out into the streets again for another tapas crawl. We got a little side-tracked as we found the Cathedral of Sevilla. WOW! It is huge and amazing! It seems to take over one whole city block. We walked around the whole thing and eventually heard loud pipe organ music coming from it and noticed a nearby door open so we ventured in. Stunning! There seemed to be some sort of ceremony taking place as we saw some of the procession going on. We saw a few brides out on the streets and in the plazas so maybe they do lots of weddings…back to back maybe? Oh well, back to our search for food! Oh…and we found a Starbucks! Now…the coffee in Spain is great, really great…but we REALLY are craving a nice big vente sized cup of coffee!

We decided on one little tapas bar on a corner spot out of the wind a bit. We ordered a couple of glasses of Sangria and two tapas…one of oxtail and one was some kind of pork.  Both were pretty tasty but we knew we’d need more eventually. We thought we’d try another place but we happened upon a fish place (kind of like fast food), that served a variety of fried fish…cuttlefish, squid, anchovies, hake, prawns, etc. I sat at an outdoor table and ordered Joey a beer and a glass of wine for me. Joey went up to order the fish…which was sold by the ¼ kilo. Joey got a full kilo, thinking he needed to fill me up some since I hadn’t eaten much today. Oh my, a kilo of fried breaded fish is a LOT! We could only eat about half, choosing to leave the anchovies and some other vinegar tasting thing behind.

We finally headed back home although found ourselves stopping for one last after dinner drink of coffee con leche for Joey and a Bailey’s coffee for me. Although…sometimes things get lost in the translation and Joey ended up with espresso again, ha! Oh well, better him than me because nothing seems to keep him from sleeping! We ended up watching the last of a soccer game that went into overtime at an outdoor café with many other Spaniards before heading back to our hotel.

Kinda seemed like a short day, but I guess that happens when you sleep half of it away!


Day 5 – Sevilla, Spain 2012 – May 18, Friday

On this Friday morning we woke up early at 6am (well normally very early again for me), and we showered and got all packed up before heading down to breakfast in the little breakfast room. Today Maria made the most delicious baked pears (maybe poached?) topped with yogurt and honey. Or wait…maybe it was sour cream. I don’t recall because I ate it so darned fast! I must make these at home! And of course, she again served an assortment of breads, jams and honey…with the best coffee! Soon after breakfast, we were loading up our luggage in our rental car and saying goodbye to Maria and Collette…signing their guestbook that was filled with kind thoughts from people all over the world. Maria assured us that we would have fun in Sevilla because it is “the happy city”. Cool! I love being happy ;).

We were finally on our way to Santander, driving through green mountainous areas, as well as along the coast for awhile..I think there was water out there. It was starting to sprinkle a bit, but mostly we drove though some misty clouds. We arrived in Santander with plenty of time to catch our plane to Sevilla, so we stopped at a nearby Mc Donalds for a cup of coffee and a burger. Yes, a burger in Spain…but it’s what Joey was craving. I ate one sans the bread of course. Plus, they have free wifi so it was a perfect spot to be to check our email. Surprisingly…the kids are apparently doing fine without us :/. We then drove a block over to the tiny little airport, checked in, and were soon on our way into the bright blue skies. We flew RyanAir, which is known to be a cheap regional airline. And cheap it was…no assigned seating, and more importantly, NO reclining seats! Oh my aching back!

The flight was only about an hour and a half (where we got a very short little nap in…siesta??), and we were soon hopping into a cab who then took us on a wild drive through the busy streets of Sevilla, to the old historic part of town. This is apparently where all the fun is, and where our hotel is as well. Our cab driver dropped us off about a block or two from our hotel because the streets in this area are pretty narrow, but we easily rolled our luggage along to our hotel and got settled into our room. It’s nothing fancy, just clean and tidy, with a little window that opens to a courtyard down below. It’s much warmer here in Sevilla but there’s a nice breeze blowing through the window most of the time. And again, free wifi ;).

After freshening up and changing into cooler clothes, we ventured out into the streets to explore. We eventually stopped at one of the many outdoor cafes for a drink…because it’s apparently the thing to do! And when in Spain….;).  I ordered a cocktail that was posted on the blackboard, not really knowing what it was gonna be. The waiter said something about “frambuesa” so I knew it would be something raspberry-ish. Well who doesn’t like raspberries? Turns out it was something like a Mojito, only with a big glob of raspberry jam in the bottom. It was pretty tasty, but I soon followed it with a tried and true glass of red wine . Joey once again got his favorite beer…he is really hooked on these! We also ordered a couple of tapas…a salad w/feta cheese and some of the famous Iberian ham. We walked around some more, peeking into shops and looking at the plates of other people sitting around eating and drinking, trying to determine where this tapas crawl would take us next. It was gonna be hard to decide which tapas places to hit, everything looked so interesting! We eventually stopped at another place and tried the meatballs and potatoes, and some roasted red peppers served with bread. Sometimes you just don’t know what you’re gonna get because you have no clue what the menu says, lol.

We eventually came back to change into something a little warmer for dinner as it was starting to cool off just a tad. As we walked around, we started seeing a number of little girls all dressed up in their flamenco dresses and wondered where they were all going. I also came upon a group of 5 or 6 young teen-aged boys who attempted to talk to me…”pardon madam”…as if they maybe thought I was French? I simply said with an apologetic smile…”English”…and one said “ are so beautiful!” in his best Don Juan impression. I guess the boys learn to flirt young. Sweet! So as I strutted my newly-confident self along the streets, we eventually settled on a place for dinner. Sitting there, we saw many more of these flamenco dress wearing girls go by and I was able to snap a few shots and video of many of them passing by. Some of them were young teenage girls as well, all so beautiful!

Our dinner consisted of melon with ham and fresh fish. Our waiter was a hoot, he really enjoyed presenting everything so spectacularly for us. Perhaps it was because of Joey’s great interest he showed in the fish offerings ;). He also assured us the melon was sweet…too sweet he said. And then once again, we were being served a fish with the head still on it and as always when this happens, we recall Claudia’s reaction to having it like this when we were in the Exumas with her, ha! Frankly, it doesn’t faze me or Joey. But our waiter gently carved off the meat and served us, and then whisked away the yucky parts…leaving Joey wishing he could pick away at the carcass. As our dinner was ending, our waiter came out with a shot glass of…something…we have no clue. But it was sweet and frosty cold so we drank it.

We then continued on our walk through the narrow streets and alley ways, all which are filled out outdoor cafes and people out eating and drinking. We eventually came upon a big plaza where there seemed to be a big festival going on. THIS is where all the little flamenco girls were! And even some other little local kids participating in processions where they carried things adorned in paper flowers or incense burning objects. Lots of proud mama’s and papa’s standing nearby taking photos. There were tons of tables set up all over around a big stage and the girls were all up there dancing in their pretty little dresses. Sometimes they all would just stand there in a line and one brave little girl would take center stage and do a short little dance performance before sliding back into the line, giving opportunity to another. Then after a few minutes, another one would brave the spotlight and shake her tail feathers as well! It was all very cute and sweet, we had huge smiles on our faces the whole time! Even some of the mamas and grandmas eventually took the stage with their big shawls and pranced around for a while. It was such a festive atmosphere, we stayed there watching and taking pictures for over an hour!

We eventually decided to call it a night, but not before stopping to finish off the night with a glass of sangria, and to share some flan for dessert.