Thursday, 31 March 2016

Spain 2016 - Seville, Iglesia Salvador and Giraldi Tower.

Up and out of the hotel for a breakfast of orange juice, coffee and a croissant at the same restaurant that I had tapas at last night. It's close, cheap and the food is good.
Casa Carlos
I then went back to the hotel to get my backpack and change out of my fleece for a lighter jacket. It's cool in the narrow streets that the sun hasn't reached yet but warm in the sun - coat on, coat off, all morning. I had read on the internet last night that if you go to Iglesia Salvador and buy the joint ticket for the Cathedral you can then skip the line at the Cathedral (which gets really long) so I set off through Barrio Santa Cruz looking for the church.
Iglesia Salvador
It didn't open until 11am so I wandered around the area, contemplating another cup of coffee.
Down a little side street off the Plaza I saw another church.
Capilla de San Jose; small, dark, very Baroque and in need of repair, but charming and obviously still a place of worship.
Standing next to me was a guide speaking in a hushed voice to his tourist couple. I overheard him say that the Christ statue has real hair and people leave their pictures and their hair on the board beside him and light a candle.
By the time I came out of the chapel a line had formed in front of Salvador church so I joined it, the doors opened and we slowly paid and went in. There were a US couple in front of me who advised me to go straight to the tower and then do the Cathedral after and a couple of Canadians in front of them who recommended the Museum of Flamenco show. I love getting travel advise from fellow travelers (that's the value of Tripadviser).
Seeing this church hadn't been on the list of things I wanted to do but as I was here, I had a look. 
Massive, carved columns
Some massive, ornate, gilt altar areas.
Very detailed and expressive.
A beautiful silver and gold Paso.
But what I really enjoyed were through a door next to the washrooms (I consider it a good policy to use them if you see them):
Old altar pews that had carvings of "the church fathers" on their backs and
bizarre carvings of heads on the arms and flip down seats.
When I went out there was still a lineup outside.
I walked back to the Cathedral and there was a huge lineup. The US couple had said that you just had to deal with the angry looks of everyone who has been standing in line for hours, so I walked by them, through the gate, wove my way through the people inside (waving my ticket and muttering "I already have a ticket" rather sheepishly), up to the turnstile and was admitted with no fuss (brilliant!). I took the "go straight to the tower" advise as well and there was no line up there.
The Giraldi tower is the church tower of the Cathedral but was the minaret when this was a Mosque, when the Moors ruled Seville. There are 35 ramps to climb to get to the top. I ran into the Canadian mother and daughter again as I was climbing. Their guide had told them that originally it had been stairs but that the Muezzin had to go up and down 5 times a day to do the "call to prayer" and the ramp was built so that a donkey could be ridden up. It is an easy climb with windows every so often with great views.
Looking down at the street behind the Cathedral from the first window.
The ramps take you up to where the bells are. There are additional stairs that you can't go up.
Looking towards the river and the hills beyond.
Looking over the Alcazar, its gardens and the public gardens beyond.
I think this post is getting rather long and I am getting tired so I will have to cover the rest of today, tomorrow, getting behind already.

Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Spain 2016 - Seville, first evening.

It was a pretty laid back morning: packing and a short walk to Punta, then lunch. Mum and Dad took me to the train station in La Palma del Condado by about 2:30. I bought my ticket and sat in the sun until the train came at 3:30. The train peaks at about 140km/hr and was in to Santa Justa Estacion by 4:30. I was pretty sure I knew where the hotel was but because I was lugging my suitcase I opted for a taxi (why not make life easier when I can). The fun began when I got to the reception at the hotel and they couldn't find my reservation. Now if we were dealing in English I would have got into the discussion and maybe got worried, but, as the 2 people on reception were conversing in Spanish I just stood there with me piece of paper with the reservation number (through and waited it out. They eventually found it in the FAX machine.
I just dumped my luggage and headed back out to do a quick reconnoiter.
Right next door, a little mini mart. That will come in useful for lunch type stuff as my hope is to grab coffee and breakfast and eat out supper but just picnic for lunch.
Because I was here with Nicola about a month ago I had a general idea of where I was in relation to the Cathedral which is really the only landmark you need. I didn't even pull out the map, just wandered and smiled (inwardly) at the number of tourists, maps spread out, at intersections, trying vainly to figure out where they were.

A couple of blocks from the hotel I walked into Jardines Cataline de la Ribera. Wonderful Wisteria in full bloom. The gardens were full of families and couples just enjoying the location and the weather (25 degrees in Seville today!)
Some huge trees. This public garden is right beside the gardens of the Alcazar that Nicola and I walked through.
From there I wandered into Barrio Santa Cruz which is the old Jewish neighborhood behind the Cathedral.
Narrow streets bordering on the Alcazar.
Little shaded squares
On the top of a gazebo in the middle of a square.

High up on a wall.
Lots of bars and restaurants and tourist shops (I want to bring all those wonderful colours home, luckily there's no room in  my suitcase.)
Then suddenly I am in the crowded area behind the Cathedral. More people than when Nicola and I were here, mostly young people and families with young children. Lots of Brits.
The Giraldi Tower. Hopefully I will climb it tomorrow or the day after.
I wanted to make sure I knew my way home before stopping for supper so ate about a block away from the hotel. I was going to eat inside as the outside tables were right next to a busy street but it was so warm that I wanted to be outside. It actually made for great people watching and there was a sidewalk, another set of tables and a double bike lane between me and the cars and buses.
This Russian salad tapas had crab meat and a swirl of mayonnaise on the top.
I wasn't sure what I would get when I ordered the eggplant tapas but this was cut thinly, deep fried and then rolled in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with caramelized honey. I ordered a second one for dessert, "uno mas por favor".
and next door the laundromat will clean your flamenco or processional clothing.

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

Spain 2016 - soaking up the sun

This morning I took a walk along the jetty. I realized I hadn't done this since the first week I was here. It was a beautiful warm day with just a slight breeze off the Atlantic and not a cloud in the sky. I wont have this for another 2 months at home.
From the Isla Canela jetty towards Isla Christina
There were lots of fisherman out today; on the jetty and barrelling in with their ocean catch.
Jellyfish wafting by.
What he caught looked like a cuttlefish but the air was pretty blue (something about "Maria") because it had broken his line.
The guys were all out here and gradually the women and kids and coolers were coming out too, to make a day of it.
Back for lunch and then I went and rented a bike for the afternoon and biked the length of the beach to Paradise Beach. Had a glass of wine and met a bunch of people from Wales, on holiday. Lovely quote: "I've been to Southern Ontario, I was in Deep River once"
My Hibiscus wont be flowering like this, outside, for another 3 months, maybe 4.
I biked out to the torre but couldn't get close due to the roadwork. It has obviously had some restoration work done but was part of the defenses of the area.
Home, packed a little and then we went to Nuevo Simon in Punta del Moral for supper, a place that is recommended in Dads Andalucia book and on Trip Advisor.
Starters of tomato salad, grilled peppers, seafood salad and Dad had Salmonejo (soup like Gazpacho). Then Mum and I had grilled Sea Bass and dad had pork. All delicious.

Monday, 28 March 2016

Spain 2016 - in countdown.

However much I don't want to do it, as a holiday winds down I find myself preparing to leave. Recognizing that I am doing things or seeing places for the last time.
We went into Ayamonte, to the market, and then just walked around as Dad recognized, from yesterday's foray, that there were streets he hadn't seen.
I went to the church to see if the Pasos were still there but it was all closed up. This is the side door that the Pasos come out of and the courtyard area that the procession starts from.
I noticed that one of the tile benches, in Plaza Laguna, had a painting of the Easter Sunday procession.
Most of the stores and bars had already replaced their Semana Santa displays. Retail was suddenly showing spring and summer clothing.
Lovely Flamenco style dresses in a high end womens store.
Quite different from the ones at the tourist shop.

I wrote a blog post last year about the garbage and recycling system in France. I thought I had better do one for Spain.
These are on the main street right behind our building; paper products, tin and plastic, compostables. I guess it is assumed that you will have no other garbage.
The receptacles for glass all have funny faces on them. Not sure the philosophy behind that.
We separate and collect our waste in plastic bags in the pantry area and take them out to the street containers every couple of days.
After lunch I went for a walk along the beach side pathway, probably about 9 km, getting into the mood for the amount of walking I will probably be doing in Seville and Madrid. It was a lovely warm day, slight breeze off the Atlantic bringing sea smelling air, few people about. I walked then stopped for a wine, did a little people watching and walked back.
Soaking up the sun and the sea.
Another tree come into bloom.
And another shrub.
Tomorrow is a day for packing and cleaning, not sure if there will be a post.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

Spain 2016 - Easter Sunday, Domingo de Resurreccion

After I attended the procession last Sunday we figured out how Dad could manage the one today. I dropped Mum and Dad near Plaza de Laguna and then parked. We were early enough for coffee in the main square (even though we had forgotten until this morning that there had been a time change overnight). Luckily there seemed to be some flexibility on the 10:30 start time.
Forming up beside the church. I didn't take photos at the church, wanting to get different shots this time.
While waiting Mum and I went into the City Hall and looked at the display there
of robes, banners, historical posters
and in the centre, the painting that this years poster is based in.
Just as last week, the procession started to form up, on the street in front of the church, well before things started. Then the church bells rang and then the band started up.
Coming down the street in front of the church towards the square.

Just before entering the square the Paso stopped and was set down. There seemed to be a lot of discussion, a lot of "toing and froing" by people in robes. A lot of consultation with the guys under the Paso. While that was all going on there was the opportunity to relight candles that had blown out
and get the thurible (I had to look it up) smoking again.
I was able to get a good look at the lovely lace and silver pins on the Mantilla being worn by the women in the procession.
After about 15 minutes of everyone standing around something was resolved and the supervisor of the Paso (wearing a black suit and walking beside it) used this brass knocker on the front to knock 3 times. He then waited a moment knocked it once and the Paso was lifted up and resumed its way into the square.
It stopped again in front of City Hall, this time to swap out some of the men carrying it.
The headgear of the carriers is worn almost covering their eyes.
Guess he didn't get the memo about the white pants.
Last Sunday most of the participants carried palm fronds, this Sunday there was more variety; wooden crosses, silver sticks, small candles or 4 foot candles.
Mum should have some great shots, standing on the tile bench.
Are we done yet, huh? huh?
The Paso carrying Christ was making its way out of the square, followed closely by the band.
We were just getting ready to head out of the square towards the place where we would see the end of the procession, and get another cup of coffee, when we heard another band start up. I went back towards the church in time to see..
a second Paso coming.
This one swayed a little as it moved and at times the carriers were making it do a little dance in time to the band. Mary got the "A" team.
Beautiful flowers,
crisp, white cloth with gold tassels and beads
over an ornate silver frame.
Mary clothed in lace and jewelry
and a long white cloak.
Followed by the band filling the air with music and providing the rhythm for the guys carrying the Paso.
When the band had passed we walked down to Plaza Rosario and had a coffee in the sun waiting for the procession to get there. We could hear both the bands every now and then as they wound their way through the narrow streets.
I went up to the spot I had watched from last week but they were stopped again.
These 2 headed down the street. Mum and I thought "washroom break" or perhaps trying to get to the front without squeezing past the Paso in the narrow streets.

Finally hunger overcame us and we went into the same restaurant as I went to last week and had an excellent lunch of raciones and tapas. We could hear the bands still playing while we ate. The restaurant was starting to fill and when we came out everyone was just leaving the square where the stage was set up.
We were able to watch Mary heading back to the church.