Craig woke feeling much better so, after a light breakfast at the hotel (with it’s amazing view of the cathedral), we packed up and started our walk to the car. Even with wheeled suitcases, the uphill climb seemed insurmountable…..akin to climbing Mt Everest…..at one point, we considered heading back to the hotel to call a taxi…..but we persevered and finally made it up to the parking lot…..panting and gasping. Traveling ain’t for sissies.
Totally spent by our walk, the long drive to Sevilla sounded appealing…..but after hours and hours of driving through miles and miles of rolling, scrubby oak plains, Spain was losing it’s appeal. Hopefully, Sevilla would revive our flagging spirits.
Sevilla is the fourth largest city in Spain…..so we knew we were getting close when the traffic became heavier. We thought we had good directions to the parking lot near our hotel, but it took two maps, one guidebook and the help of a gas station attendant before we finally found it.
After we parked, we still had to find our hotel. Again, the map that had seemed so concise when we printed it off, was of little use. We wandered the streets (taking an early, unintentional tour of the city) until we finally found our hotel on a narrow side street. We wheeled our suitcases into the hotel’s welcoming courtyard just as a light rain started.
It was too late to do any sightseeing, so we headed to a nearby laundromat to do some much needed washing. The light rain had turned into a downpour; we were drenched when we arrived at the laundry…..just behind a young couple from the US. The laundry offered a few services….dry cleaning, a wash & dry drop-off service and self-service (with two washers and two dryers). With one of the washers already in use, our chances of clean clothes were swiftly diminishing…..but luck was on our side. The young couple asked the woman behind the counter (who was carefully ironing formal dresswear) if they could drop off their laundry. She shook her head as she continued ironing. The young couple, somewhat surprised by this response, left dejectedly. We pointed to the washer and asked, “OK?” This busy woman seemed to take a liking to us…..perhaps because we were willing to do our own laundry? She stopped her ironing, came out from behind the counter, helped us load the machine and gave us a cup full detergent before returning to her ironing. The rains poured down while our clothes washed and dried…..but we were comfy in the warm sanctity of a nearby bar….drinking Spanish Rioja.
After our laundry was done, it was time for dinner. Craig, who’s tummy still wasn’t feeling terrific after his recent “issue,” wanted a light, bland dinner…..something not easily accomplished in Spain. He decided that a Margherita pizza…..with a thin crust, plain tomato sauce and low fat mozzarella cheese…..would probably work, so we walked to a nearby Italian restaurant…..where he promptly ordered Lasagne…..against my protestations. The meal was delicious…..and it seemed to agree with Craig. It had been a long day…..we returned to the hotel and slept better than we had in ages.
The next morning, the sun was shining gloriously as we started out on our tour of Sevilla. We had just arrived at the Cathedral when we realized we had forgotten our guidebook. While Craig returned to the hotel to get it, I was accosted by a gypsy who laid a sprig of rosemary in my palm. I handed it back to her saying that I had no money (which was true…..I don’t carry a purse on vacation, I put the few things I need in Craig’s backpack). She smiled and continued to read my palm. When she had finished, she held out her hand for a coin. Turning my pockets out, I again told her that I had no money. When she finally understood that no coin was forthcoming, she grabbed the rosemary from my hand and left in a huff. Don’t mess with gypsies.
Craig returned just as the church was opening. Along with the small crowd behind us, we streamed into the third largest church in the world (after the Vatican’s St Peter and Our Lady of Aparecida in Brazil). Built over a mosque, the church was, indeed, immense…… almost cavernous.
Opposite the mirror, was Christopher Columbus’ tomb. He’s traveled almost as much dead as he did alive….he was first buried in Valladolid, Spain….then moved to Sevilla, Spain….then Santo Domingo, Hispaniola (now the Dominican Republic)…..then to Cuba……and finally, back to Sevilla.
Although the cathedral was built over a mosque, two of the mosque’s features were kept….it’s minaret (La Giralda) was converted to a bell towerand it’s courtyard…..with sweetly scented orange trees…..is the church’s cloister.
Next was the Alcazar, a 14th century palace built in Moorish style and still used for state occasions…..this is where Columbus met Queen Isabella on his return from the New World.
We were enthralled by the Moorish style, with it’s intricate ornamentation and serene gardens.
We walked through narrow lanes and plazas of the Santa Cruz barrio in search of lunch….finally finding it at an outdoor cafe. During our walk, we came across Los Gallos, a Flamenco club, so we bought tickets for tonight’s performance….then returned to the hotel to rest up for the evening.
As the time for the show neared, Craig….starting to feel under the weather again….bowed out, so I went to the performance without him. My discomfort of being alone in a room full of couples was short-lived…..as soon as the show began, everyone was at one with the performers.
One at a time, the dancers arrived on the stage for their solo performances. To the accompaniment of soulful singing and rousing guitar playing, each dancer proudly strutted, stamped and clapped around the stage…..the women, haughtily twirling their long, ruffled skirts like matadors in the ring….the man, theatrically inching across the stage with rapid-fire heel clicks. The raw emotion in these dances was palpable…..as was the sheer joy when the dancers joined each other on stage for a rousing finale.
With castanets ringing in my ears, I returned to the hotel to find Craig sound asleep.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music” ~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche