Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #34 The Barber of Sevilla
After dropping Irene off at her hotel (LasAdelfas), Marcia drove the 90 miles west back to Sevilla (seh-vee-yah). It took about 1.5 hrs and the GPS took us across the bridge and right to the Alfonso XIII Hotel (Westin). After checking in, he tells me the room rate is $350/night for 2 nights. I held on to the marble counter trying not to let my shock be too obvious. It was a little late to do anything about it now, so we are going to splurge here. Well after getting into the room, I can see why. It was built in 1929 and is the only hotel that was directly ordered to be built by a reigning monarch anywhere in the world. It was intended to house his guests next to his palace at the Alcazar. The photos don't do justice to the place. It is one of the tourist attractions of Sevilla - and we were paying for it. We decided to skip the formal hotel restaurant and followed advice to cross the bridge and try the places along the river walk. It was a beautiful evening and I just wish I had felt better to enjoy it. We stopped at the La Primera del Puente and couldn't wait to order flamanquin and it was very good. We also had a plate of puntillitas (fried baby calamari) that was also good. We had pollo plancha (grilled chicken) and chipirone (boiled adult squid). With that and 2 glasses of rioja, we were pretty full. They keep track of your check here by writing the amounts with a wax pencil on the bar itself. When done they add it all up and then erase it. We took a walk along the river and found a real internet cafe (Tequila Connection) where we could order a drink and check email, but like most, it was a little humid. We stopped at Rio Grande for dessert near the bridge and I had the best rice pudding (arroz con leche) that I have had in a long time. They even had cinnamon on it. We leisurely walked back across the bridge to the hotel to watch CNN and got to bed at 1 AM.
Woke at 9:30 and went out to run at 11:30. I expected it to get hot here as well but it was slightly overcast with a nice breeze. The streets here are very large and busy so I decided I had better run in the little park next door called Jardins de Catrina. The soft dirt was good on my knees. I finally maneuvered my way through the streets and found the major thing here, the Cathedral of Sevilla, which is larger than that of Milano and only second to St. Peter's. They claim it is the largest cathedral in the world. It took me quite a while to walk around it and photograph it. The tower attached is called the Giralda because of the weather vane at the top. It was originally a Moorish minaret. I left there and started hunting for an internet cafe and was led to the Alfalfa 10 cafe which again wouldn't allow use of a floppy so I kept looking. After wandering through the really wonderful streets covered with linens to keep the sun out, I arrived in Plaza Nueva covered in marble. At one corner is the Hotel Ingleterra and they pointed me in the right direction to a real good place Netsk@fe so I wouldn't have to hike all the way across the river to Tequila Connection. I enjoyed my cortado (getting used to them now) while doing email. Got a lot done and caught a cab back to the hotel. Marcia was just finishing her lunch in the hotel (Ouch$$!!) and after changing we headed for the Cathedral to tour the inside. We took a cab the 4 blocks because it was already 4PM and it closes at 5.
What an edifice both inside and out. To me, the spectacular thing was seeing Cristobal Colon's (Christopher Columbus') tomb. It was elevated in the air and held aloft by 4 iron pallbearers - very spectacular. Next door is the chapel of the Americas with flags of every nation in the new world. This is where Columbus prayed before leaving for his trip to India in 1492. There are 43 side alters here, more than any other church in the world and they are beautifully done and kept up. The central altar is really spectacular, all in gold, and the most amazing I have ever seen in all my travels. It is impossible to explain the effect of the size of this place and no photograph can relay it. We headed for the tower (Giraldo) and Marcia decided this is the only one she would go up because there are no stairs. You go up by walking slanted walkways to the top. The views of Sevilla were great. Marcia was very tired especially from the walk down and she was beginning to get a sore throat as well. I told her it was time for her to have a glass of wine so we stopped at a little place near the Cathedral. Before I sat down, I was approached by an Aussie, who asked if I was interested in a Flamenco show. Like a goof, I actually let him talk me into buying tickets to the "best flamenco show in Sevilla" for the 11:30 show (non-dinner show). Marcia asked me what the hell I did that for and I told her I trusted him. We finished our wine and headed out for a tapas crawl for dinner. The first place we stopped was an American TexMex place called the Lone Star where I enjoyed a Guinness and they had CNN on. From there we followed the guide book and went to the Bar Giraldo and had flamanquin and veal filet with rioja all of which was good. I tried a glass of sherry for the very last time. Next a little walk into the barrio Santa Cruz and went into the inviting La Guita where we had flamanquin and chorizo with rioja. Then a stroll to the Bar Las Teresas where Marcia had a spinach & garbanzo bean tapas with wine and I just had a beer. A couple from the UK invited us to join them at their table and we enjoyed chatting with them. We then negotiated many winding little streets to find another place recommended in the Cadogan book, the Casa Roman which is next to the Hostal Lucia (a nice place to stay - next time). We split a tortilla con jambon and we now know that tortilla means omelet in Spanish. It was by now 11:15 so we had to rush to find a cab which raced us up the hills to the Las Brujas for the flamenco show. As soon as I looked at the place I knew I had been had. Then it came to mind that Aussies are descendants of criminals. It was already 11:35 and the showroom was empty with no one prepared to put one on. The lady tells me the show will start in a few minutes as 8 people dash from the bar to head backstage to change. She took us to the showroom in the back and it was dark and totally devoid of people. Upon seeing this, I got this creepy feeling we had been scammed, since the show should have started 10 minutes ago. I told the woman strongly in no certain terms that I wanted my money back. She tries to calm me down by telling me the show will start shortly. I told her I didnĺt want a show with just the two of us in the audience. Then after I pushed harder for my money, she explains that she doesnĺt have the money, only the guy who sold me the tickets could refund me. I was highly irritated but we decided to while the gang in the bar changed in to their costumes. We waited 15 minutes and the show started with Marcia and I as the sole audience. We felt a little foolish so we didnĺt sit in the front rows. I think the performers did also, in the beginning, but as they got going they really got into it. After awhile two elderly women entered and the audience doubled. The show lasted an hour and a half and they danced their hearts out for us. There was a singer, two guys playing guitars and a guy and four women dancers. I hate to admit it but we really loved it. It would have been even better if there had been others in the room. Oh well, we have nothing to compare it to, so we enjoyed it. We caught a cab back and got to bed at 3AM.
I tried to wake early by leaving an order for a cappuccino for 8 AM but woke spontaneously at 7:45. It was a plain old American coffee so I went back to sleep and woke up 11:30. Now Marcia was also sick with a cold. I got a call from Jeff and Kevin and it was good to talk to them about what was happening at home. Jeff says Kaylin is trying to say Grandpa and then asked if I had gotten a haircut here (Barber of Seville) - I should have. Since we had to check out, I decided to run early again and this time I ran around the Sevilla Universidad building several times. The building is huge and has an interesting history. It was originally the Tobacco Factory and the largest building in Europe. Only women worked there rolling cigars and one of them was Carmen, the title character of the famous opera "Carmen". I ran past a bunch of art students that were doing drawings of the area as a project. Then I went out into the street and found the Portuguese Embassy building, hung a left and ran into a very large park (Park Marie Luisa) to come across the Placa Espa˝a which is a huge complex building erected for an Exposition. It has a canal around the front where you can take boat rides. On the front are sections dedicated to each of the cities of Spain; each having an azulejos depicting something from the city and below is a map of where it is located - very nicely done. The towers on each end were copied after Santiago do Compostela. After finishing it was too tempting not to have a cortado at La Raza, a cafe under the trees at the end of the Park. I got back to the hotel and we checked out of Alfonso XIII at 2 PM. It took me quite a while to recover - the bill came to $900 for two nights stay - our most expensive of this whole trip. I don't get that to take a cataract out.
We walked to the Catedral area and while Marcia nursed her sore throat with chicken soup, I went over to tour the Real Al Cazar, a huge property combining Gothic with Moor as the reigning headquarters for the King. The grounds and buildings were quite spectacular as can be seen in the photos. This is the other main thing to see in Sevilla and Marcia missed it (a lot of walking). Before leaving we found our way to one more site, the Casa Pilotes which was built by a wealthy man to attempt to duplicate what Pontius Pilot's house looked like - very interesting with busts of all the Roman Emperors. We'd had enough and decided to hit the road south to Cadiz on the Atlantico Costa.
The bottom line is that Sevilla, in my opinion, is not just a lovely city, but the nicest city to live in I have seen so far. I would live in Oviedo in the summer and Sevilla in the winter. Coming to Spain, Sevilla is an absolute must visit and for more than a couple of days. This city is FABULOUS!
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #35
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
PHOTOS: 34SevillaA 34SevillaB 34SevillaC 34SevillaD
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