20 Jul Seville
Spain has a marvelous high speed train system which is very reasonably priced. For a small increase in cost, you can sit in the first-class section, but to be honest the main difference is three seats per row versus four. We took the train to Seville for a three-day getaway, starting with a three-hour walking tour of Seville. The free tour tickets were fully booked and not available, but Trip Advisor offered the same tour for 3 Euros each and there was space available – a good trick to know. Our tour guide had recently obtained his master’s degree in history at Seville University, so we were very fortunate and well informed. The next day, a more detailed pay tour included the inside of the Cathedral, the Alcazar Palace, and the Plaza de Espana.
The cathedral was a mosque 900 years ago and the Cathedral Tower is from that original construction. At the top of the Tower, 24 bells of different sizes are installed and used daily. All the bells are rung simultaneously only a few times a year…. Christmas Day and Easter Sunday being two of them. The Tower is taller than Big Ben and the Tower of Pisa and can be reached by climbing 34 ramps and then 17 steps. From experience we can say the climb is not recommended for the elderly (or retirees like us). In the main cathedral are many alcoves, treasure rooms, family burial sepulchers, and chapels. A highlight is the tomb of Christopher Columbus with statues of four soldiers representing different regions of Spain holding the casket.
The Alcazar Palace was originally a Muslim construction built about 900 years ago. The construction includes five different types of architecture as the design has been influenced by the different nationalities ruling the country and adding to the buildings. Tours include many courtyards, gardens, and private rooms.
One of the main reasons we visited Seville, the Home of Flamenco, was to see a Flamenco Show. My research informed me that many of the shows are designed for tourists focusing on the foot stomping style of dance combined with the Spanish music. Flamenco can have many styles and some of them are very elegant and artistic. We chose Tablao Flamenco Pura Esencia, a small quaint facility which featured many different styles of Flamenco and the female dancer included dances with a shawl and also castanets.
After the Flamenco show we took a taxi to the oldest tapas bar in Spain, El Rinconcillo (translated as the inside of a little corner). Expect to wait in a line to enter…a short time for the downstairs bar and longer for the upstairs restaurant. In the bar, there are no chairs, just places to stand and place your food and drinks. I thoroughly enjoined a stew made with Bull’s Tail and Georgene had one of her favorite dishes…clams.
Observing a Bullfight was the second reason for choosing Seville. The bullring was a large concrete stadium. Let me warn you now…purchase the large cushions on the way for $5 each. Your posterior and back will thank you later! The event began at 9 PM and the temperature was still 100 F, so we only stayed to watch two of the nine battles. The first matador was young and inexperienced. The second was worth staying to see. He got on his knees where the bull entered the ring with his cape on the ground. As the bull charged in, he sprang to his feet just in time and used his cape to direct the bull.
SEVILLE SECOND VISIT
My daughter and son-in-law visited us in Portimao, and they wanted to go to Seville for a weekend, which was only about 2 1/2 hours away. During the visit, we discovered the Iberian Ham store managed by Angel. Iberian Ham comes from certified Iberian Pigs which have a documented lineage similar to a pedigree dog. If the father and mother pig are both Iberian Pigs, the result is 100% Iberian Ham. The finest quality of Iberian Ham is acorn fed and can be purchased as 100% Jamon de Bellota Iberian (whole leg cost abaout $1,400). Only the leg is trimmed for this ham and sliced manually so thin you can see through it. Angel even let a couple of us slice some ham…. the secret was you have to see the knife on the other side of the ham while you cut. Needless to say, a lot of Iberian Ham was sold that day.
A tour of the Seville Bullring and Bullfight Museum was the opportunity for more photos. The Stadium in Seville is the smallest in Spain, but also has the largest actual fighting floor. While wondering around Seville, the Nomad collectibles store stood out as the perfect location for a couple of Expat Nomads to take a photo.