9/12/2010 (Sevilla, Spain)
Not sure who wants to get these updates, so send me a “please stop” and I’ll take you off the list. Second disclaimer: Mike’s laptop (which I’m now glad we took) has a stiff keyboard–especially the space bar. So some of myemils may lok lik this… depending on how late it is and how many vino blancos or tintos I’ve had. I can now ask for wine in Portuguese, Spanish, German (we flew Air Berlin to Majorca and then Sevilla), French, and English. I think they understand French in Morocco or I will have to learn whatever language they speak.
Sevilla is amazing–a very European city with tremendous history, gorgeous architecture, and lots of tourists. We’re staying in an apartemento in the heart of all the action. It’s a cute place with a bathroom so tiny, I’m sure I could fit it into a broom closet. The style is very modern and clean; we’re on the 3rd floor overlooking an ancient stone street lined with apartments and shops with garage door fronts that close up between 2 and 6 when everyone goes home to take a nap–a civilized custom that we should immediately adopt. At 6 everything opens up again and around 9:30 people start thinking about dinner. I have to admit that this is an easy tempo to fall into.
We crazy Americans didn’t get going until later in the morning so we managed to be looking for an open market during siesta time–we have the Spanish equivalent of 7/11 down the street so we were able to pick up wine (vino, vine, vinho…etc.) there and a ham and cheese sandwich (jamon y queso) which is just that: Serrano ham and cheese on bread–nothing crazy like a condiment or tomato. Were’ resting before going out to shop a little (maybe)–we’re looking for a cord that will allow us to upload some pictures onto the computer. We’re also planning on having some dinner (much later–it’s only 8:00) and watching flamenco dancing. The nightclubs and bars seem to be open all night.
Flashback: last night after two flights (both fine) we took a cab (and were ripped off but that’s another story) and arrived at our apartment after 10:00 and found out we were in trouble with the receptionist who had emailed us that she wouldn’t be available after 10. Unfortunately, she emailed us while we were on the way… Luckily she left us a note on the door of the lobby/reception/place that directed us to our place and a pissed off 20-something. We dragged our way too heavy luggage up 3 flights (Nora offered to help one landing before our door (no gracias). After looking around we rallied and strolled down the street to an intersection where no fewer than 6 restaurants (all in a row) had their tables, chairs and misters out on the street. It’s kind of hard to tell here what’s street and what’s sidewalk. The rule seems to be if you can drive on it, it’s a road… We ordered olives, bread, shrimp, and tortilla des patatas (that’s a potato omelet). The waiter complimented me on my Spanish accent and I’ve been insufferable ever since. Never mind that he couldn’t understand me when I asked for olives–clearly his problem… On the way back we found that there’s an ice cream (helados) place a half black from our place. Another sign, don’t you think? Mike had something caramel and I re-lived Barcelona in 2008 with the banana split helado. I don’t even like bananas that much and I hate banana flavored stuff, but there’s something about this helado.
Today we toured the Alcazar–Peter the Cruel’s 14th century Mudejar palace. It’s a magnificent combination of Moorish and Spanish art and architecture–exquisite tile work, gorgeous Renaissance paintings, lush gardens, and huge tapestries (some of maps that showed the 4 continents and their general lack of knowledge). After a Sangria (not as good as my sister’s recipe) and cerveza break, we visited the Sevilla cathedral and Giralda tower–the cathedral is the largest Gothic church in the world and the architects wanted people to think they (the architects/designers) were mad (crazy) to design and build it. The tower was built by the Moors in the 1100s and made even higher by Catholic royalty in 1568 (those folks were small so this tower might have involved a little compensation if you know what I mean…). After that we wandered around the shopping district affirming (store by store) that everything was, in fact, closed, found the little market and came back here to relax, get out of the heat, and get ready for a late night. We are here until Tuesday when we pick up a car and drive around Andalucia on our way to Granada and the Alhambra–supposed to be the most beautiful example of Islamic art in the world–so beautiful that the Catholics couldn’t bear to burn it down when they conquered the Moors and kicked them out of Granada.
I know you’re all wondering (will this ever end?) about Porto but Mike and I need to get going so that may have to wait (forever). Suffice it to say, I bought a pair of black and white flats (on sale–saved 30 Euros) and a pair of black sandals with ankle straps and zippers up the heels) that will help me pass for French or Italian (until I speak).
News flash from Mike: if you get a ticket in Spain you have to pay the cop on the spot (hopefully they take credit cards). Mike is reading about Spain as I write this and has occasional tidbits of information to share. He’s supposed to be figuring out how to get to the Flamenco place.