The Alcazar of Seville
The Alcazar of Seville was one of those places that sprang out from the pages of the guidebooks as we planned this particular road trip.
We’d put off visiting for a couple of days, largely because every time we passed the entrance, there were queues.
As Friday was our last full day in Seville, we couldn’t put off visiting any longer, so it was up early, shower, dress and head for breakfast before joining the queue to get in.
When we reached the front, we realised why there was a queue to get into this World Heritage Site – airport style security with both walk-through body scanners and x-ray machines to examine the contents of day bags, hand bags and camera pouches.
There’s plenty of buildings to wander around, but there are also some impressive gardens to walk around. I’m not a gardener by any stretch of the imagination, but even I was impressed but the way in which the gardens were planted, laid out and kept spick and span as people entered and gradually dispersed themselves around the numerous arrays of plants, lawns, ornaments and fountains.
Words can’t really do justice to what we saw during our time in the Alcazar (Lonely Planet’s Andalusia guide devotes almost two pages to describing the complex), so here’s a few pictures selected at random from those taken as we wandered around…
After a few hours in the Alcazar, it was time for refreshment and a chance to rest our feet. The cafe was rather busy and customers were being treated to grand displays of feathers from an obliging local peacock. Who stopped when I got my camera ready….
If you are every in Seville, you really must bite the bullet and join that queue at the Alcazar. Words can’t really describe it as there is so much to take in as you wander around the buildings and the grounds.
Although the complex is right in the centre of Seville and is bordered by main roads, it’s very peaceful and the only audible intrusions came from the sounds of sirens on a couple of emergency service vehicles as they headed off to do their stuff.
Yes, there were quite a few people visiting the Alcazar on the day of our visit, but once we’d left the buildings and the start of the garden area behind, we had sections of the gardens to ourselves and weren’t being bothered by selfie stick toting phone owners.
We’ve already said that we are going to go back to Seville for another visit and that will be including return visits to the Alcazar because this was one enjoyable way of spending a day just wandering around on our own and exploring the site without a guide or a guidebook.
And without a tour guide marching us around in record breaking time in order to get the party back on the bus to get to the next stop along the way!
Next up – Cordoba!
If it’s Thursday, then it’s time to get thee to a flamenco club.
Now we’d seen what the admission charges were for some of the flamenco shows, but we’d heard about a club in one of the back streets when reading a Kindle book on Seville (Seville for Free 2016 by Lynne Knightly) before we headed off.
The same club – La Carboneria – was also recommended to us by the owner of the pension we were staying in as being one of the best places to go – and he was right.
My earlier confusion in trying to find the club was understandable as we’d found out after seeing that notice near the original entrance on Calle Levies which pointed in the direction of the new entrance a few hundred metres away on Cespedes.
As we’d taken our time over the tapas, we arrived at La Carboneria around 9.30pm and wandered in.
The club was already busy, and there weren’t any seats to be had. So beer beckoned and a couple of camas of Alhambra ordered in my best Spanish (I was getting the hang of it, honest!).
At €2 per glass, it wasn’t going to break the bank, but one guy standing next to me came rather unstuck when he came to pay as he presented a card to pay for his drinks. The problem he faced? No cards, so he was given directions to the nearest ATM…
There was a sense of deja vu as I looked around La Carboneria as it brought back memories of heading out to clubs to see bands in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.
Unlike Riverside in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, La Carboneria wasn’t a standing venue as there were long tables and benches on the lower and upper levels of the club.
The audience was a good mix though – old, young and of different ethnic backgrounds too (very reminiscent of those attending gigs at the Harambe Africa festival). You could spot the tour parties though – students with one eye on their friends and the other on the screens of their respective mobile phones.
The music started around 10pm though. Guitars first and then the essential combination of guitars and dancer.
Whilst there were two musicians, there was only one dancer, but was there passion in the dancing? Oh yes…
From where we were standing, we could only see the hand movements and the facial expressions, but there was so much intensity in those movements and expressions that seeing the feet moving wasn’t necessary.
As the intensity rose, the dancer’s hair started to move too and it wasn’t long before hair was falling into the dancer’s face.
Fortunately that happened on the last song/dance of that particular set. That passion contented as the night wore on in the other two sets we witnessed from the same players and dancer.
As the night wore on though, we became conscious that we’d been up for a long time and that as good as the night was, we really did need some sleep, especially as we had a long, good Friday planned.
It was to be our last full day in Seville and there was a lot to do, especially as we had planned on an early start to get in the queue to take a look around Seville’s Alcazar.
More on Monday!
Giralda, Seville Catherdral
Ah, yes, we were talking about Seville.
After a spot of mooching around the city centre and stumbling across the Metropol Parasol on our first day in Seville, the second had some loose organisation about it.
The stroll to Taberna Papelon ensured that we were ready for breakfast. We managed to make ourselves understood once more as we ordered coffee, croissants and orange juice and then more coffee before we headed off to join the queue of those visiting the Cathedral.
Rough Guide Andalucia uses this quote about the Cathedral – “a building on so magnificent a scale that posterity will believe we were mad”.
In other words it’s huge. Bigly huge…
Although we joined the queue around 10am, the opening time isn’t until 11am, so we waited, drank water, talked and then shuffled forward as those at the front bought their tickets and entered.
Once at the front, Caroline and I went our separate ways. Caroline into the cathedral and I for a wander around to try and find a tapas bar and a flamenco club that the owner of the pension recommended. And more coffee.
Finding coffee and tapas bar – easy. Finding that flamenco club wasn’t.
My mooch around gave me the chance to take a few photos, but also ensured a few close encounters with those selling bunches of heather or the drivers of the horse drawn carriages that were doing steady business in taking other tourists around the city centre.
After a while, it was time to head back to the square that Caroline and I had arranged to meet in. I wasn’t surprised that the monument in the middle of the square had been taken over by a couple of school parties, but I found somewhere to sit, wait and have more water as it was the middle of the day and the temperatures were rising.
Finding lunch and swapping comments about what we’d seen so far that day was a good idea, so a snack lunch plus a small beer at a street cafe (of which there are many in Seville) was sought, bought and consumed.
Caroline confirmed the scale of the Cathedral, and commented on the Giralda Tower, one of the minarets of the mosque that occupied the site before the Cathedral was built.
Caroline also commented on the intense nature of various parts of the Cathedral and the art or sculptures on display. Not my cup of tea at all, and one of the reasons why I wasn’t really bothered about heading through those large doors at the entrance…
With lunch out of the way, it was time for more leg stretching, this time in a small market in a park before an unscheduled wander across the street into the El Cortes Ingles department store.
My camera’s SD card was full, and the one in the camera pouch wasn’t a new one – it was also full. The store’s photographic section was easily found and a 16gb SD card sourced, paid for and installed.
It was only when we got back to the pension that I found that new empty SD card – in the pouch used to store my power & plug adaptors. D’oh!!!
After a fairly full day of wandering around, a short siesta beckoned, but as we wandered back to the pension from El Cortes Ingles, guess what we found?
A laminated card indicating where that flamenco club was. As it was 5pm and the club didn’t open until around 9pm, there was time for a siesta, wash & change and tapas before we had a good night out at the flamenco club.
A night in a live music club at a total cost of €8 for the two of us including beer money?
You’d better believe it – more tomorrow!
Yes, we’re back – more words and more pics to come. And then some!
Spotted this on the BBC website a few minutes ago.
Did the person on the check-in desk have a Whiskey Tango Foxtrot moment when the guy decided to nominate a can of beer as his hold luggage?
Yes, we like Lisbon – and Terra!
The food piece is already online, but there will be more on Lisbon in this Saturday’s edition of The Guardian here in the UK…
Why am I mentioning it?
My review of Terra, a fine vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the Principe Real area of Lisbon is included in that food piece…
There were forty-odd entries for this, so all due regards to other entrants and to the judges at The Guardian and Lonely Planet…
The road goes forever on…
Amazon came up with an offer that I couldn’t refuse last weekend.
The Kindle version of On The Road by Jack Kerouac.
It’s one of those books I’ve seen on other people’s bookshelves or heard references to on Marillion’s Clutching At Straws album, but also a tome that I’ve never read – yet…
Although I did a thirteen page analysis of a music video for the song On The Road by Lee Roy Parnell whilst at university in the 1990’s and have seen the film of the book a few years ago (on opening night as a time filler – both Caroline and I agreed that it was a few hours of our lives we were never going to get back!), I’ve never fancied reading the book.
Time will tell as to how long it will be before I read it or what I’ll think about it, but as it was just 99p, it was worth a punt!