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Seville, the sun-drenched capital of Andalusia in Southern Spain, swept us up in its festive atmosphere. It was Saturday and the tourists thronged the streets, mime artists abounded and flamenco dancers stamped out a hearty tune on the sidewalk. Touts tried to cajole us into doing a boat trip down the Guadalquivir River (How’s that for a mouthful?), but the lure of the narrow streets and Moorish architecture meant we would be sightseeing by foot today, thank you.
Miles McFlattery, our campervan, was parked at Port Gelves (N37.202836, W-6.12572), keeping a watchful eye over the yachts. A delightful campervan stop with full facilities and campervans pretty much jampacked into every last corner of the pier.
We caught the local bus into town and as we drove over the Puente de San Telmo bridge, we caught our first glimpse of Moorish architecture on the Torro del Oro. Built in the 12th Century, this tower has stood the test of time and was originally one of the outer defense towers.
Dodging the horse and carts ferrying tourists around the city, we crossed the road to the San Telmo Palace. This beautiful 16th Century baroque palace is now a government building, but its yellow and red façade and an incredibly ornate portal still attract much attention.
The streets were lined with racks of bicycles for hire. Tai wanted to get one so he could careen around Town while I took photos and admired the sights. Upon investigation, it appeared that you had to hire it for a week, so a quick one or 2 hours hire didn’t seem possible. Unless we just couldn’t understand the Spanish? We saw some other tourists also wanting to hire, but also walking away without a bike, so I think we understood it correctly. Pity though. They seemed to be losing out on a rather viable market.
The street cafes were buzzing and the air was filled with music from buskers trying to earn their keep. One young lad had such a beautiful voice that he made Tai cry. He grabbed my wallet and ran across to deposit some coins in the boy’s hat. A young girl did a fiery flamenco dance, smashing her feet into a wooden board while giving a sultry smile. A man painted from head to toe in silver pretended to by flying while kicking a soccer ball – the old mime on a magnet trick.
The majestic Seville Cathedral was beckoning as we navigated the trams, bicycles, and cars to reach it. The intricacy and ornateness of design on every inch of the Seville Cathedral are astounding and with 80 different chapels, it is the largest cathedral in the world by volume. It is also listed as a World Heritage site. We spent ages wandering the length and breadth of it, trying to make out all the figurines and architectural flourishes. In the Court of the Oranges, the scent of orange blossom filled the air as we craned our necks upwards to the top of the La Giralda, the bell tower.
La Giralda, began its life as the minaret for the former mosque and has an interesting twist. Instead of stairs, the tower has 34 ramps, specially designed so that the Muezzin could ride his horse to the top instead of walking, for the daily calls of prayer.
Seville is an incredibly clean city and Tai thought it particularly clever that the cart horses had their own poop bags hanging under their tails!
The Real Alcazar is a UNESCO listed palace complex surrounded by huge rampart walls. The Moorish architecture is magnificent, and the palace is still used to this day by the Spanish Royal Family. Inside the walls, you’ll find gorgeous courtyards with orange trees dripping with fruit. I nearly injured myself jumping up to grab an orange, which I greedily peeled and popped in my mouth. Only to quickly spit it into the nearest bin as it was so sour!
It was nearing lunch so we meandered along alleyways until we came across a square simply heaving with people. High tables and barstools filled a section of the square with as many people as could fit, huddling around each table. Beer was flowing, tapas plates kept the waiters running and the loud rumble of conversation meant we had to almost shout to hear each other.
Along the side of the square were 5 tiny bars. Each with a width of about 2 metres. A bar counter ran down the middle with staff on one side pulling drafts and clients squeezing in the other side to place orders. It was chaos! The menus were all in Spanish and as we were quickly finding out, the Spanish do not speak any English! Now, how to order some food when I had no idea what anything was?
I ordered a beer and gave Tai some to quench our thirst, then pointed to 2 items on a menu and hoped for the best. The waiter pushed some people apart to make a teeny space at a table and told us this was our spot.
The sun was out for the first time since leaving South Africa and it felt wonderful to be sitting in the sun, beer in hand, surrounded by happy, loud people! Our food never arrived – clearly English wasn’t the only impediment – but we’d done our time here so off we set. The next stop, the weird and wonderful structure – Las Setas De Sevilla or Mushrooms of Seville. I thought it looked rather alien and reminded me of the Spaceship Enterprise in TV series Star Trek. Apparently, it is the largest wooden structure in the world and was constructed with the aim of renovating the Plaza de la Encarnacion.
After a little more wandering we found a fabulous patisserie where we grabbed a bite to eat. They had great wifi so I took a few minutes to research our onward journey. I suddenly realized that the next day would be Sunday and the ticket office for the ferry to Morocco, would be closed. I had also found a nice place to spend our first night in Morocco, but it was closed on Mondays, which meant we needed to get to Morocco on Sunday, not Monday. It was now 4pm on Saturday afternoon!
I found the number and called Carlos at the ferry ticket office. Yes, they would be open until 9pm. “Tai, eat up, we’re going to Algeciras!”
We literally ran through the streets of Seville, hopped on the local bus back to Miles at the Port and within 20 minutes had packed up paid and were on the road. Nothing like making a snap decision!!
Another step closer to Morocco!!!