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Impressions of Seville

Current Location: Sevilla, Andalucía, Spain
Current Position: 37 20.65 N 006 1.36 W Click to view map.
Distance sailed since last post: 19 nautical miles. View the map of our voyage track here

In 1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue.

In 2011 we sailed the ocean blue. When we set off we had 3 GPS’s, detailed charts, daily weather forecasts, plus historical data on the best times of year to travel, and the best routes to take. And then we had radios, liferafts, EPIRB, and watermaker as backups.

He, along with two other ships, departed from Seville to sail around the world in order to find a route to India that avoided the Cape of Good Hope. He knew the world was round (though many doubted him), but he had no idea how big it was. Well, maybe he had some clue, based on how far around the world he figured they were when they went to the orient.

Whatever the case may be, he set off with no charts, no weather forecasts, no idea of trade winds and current patterns, and no idea how long the voyage would take, and thus how much food and water to take.

Think about that for a moment.

Puts it all into perspective. Even after the trade routes were established, as many as one in five ships never made it across the pond.

It was, of course, that epic journey that basically made Spain, and Seville especially. From that day, for the next 200 years, they OWNED the new world, and all the trade that came through it.  Which included heaps of gold and silver that passed through the Torre del Oro on the banks of the Rio Gaudalquivir:

The result is a fascinating historical city. Everywhere you turn there is evidence of the heydays of the 15th to 18th centuries. Huge baroque palaces and countless churches, including the word’s largest cathedral:

 

 

 

Inside these they are just filled with heaps of gold and art, all in the elaborate baroque style.

 

Plus, of course, the tombs of famous people, like Christopher Columbus himself.

Even the art museum is a work of art in itself:

As well as paintings, there is also bas-relief (sort of a half-way house between a painting and a sculpture):

And even some guy with a lip-ring that seems to actually join his lips together. Some of today’s punks could learn a trick or two from him, I reckon:

Underneath all the baroque and catholic stuff is, of course, the legacy of the muslim Moors who lived here until they were kicked out by San Fernando. This is said saintly king:

(plus a very handsome couple of tourists).

Right next to the Cathedral are the three royal palaces. These range in style from original Moorish, to “in the style of the moors”, to Baroque.

It seems that one of the kings preferred the Moorish style of decoration to the Christian, so he had his  palace built accordingly.  This was during the time when the moors were still allowed to live in the city, before they were finally expelled at the beginning of the Inquisition.

Inside the palace gardens is a musical organ that plays music once an hour, operated entirely mechanically b

 

And also a ‘drunken tree’. You can just see that the lower part of the trunk bulges out. When it rains, that bulge gets bigger – as much as 2 or 3 times the diameter of the normal trunk – like a beer belly (hence the name) or, more accurately, like a camel’s hump.

Apart from the monuments, the city itself is pretty cool.

Naturally we had tapas. Now, you know how when you go to a restaurant the best dishes are always the starters? Well, the whole concept of tapas is that you eat only the starters! I.e. you order two or three dishes each, rather than a single main course. The range of dishes is huge. We had squid stuffed with roe, tenderloin steak with Roquefort cheese sauce, tenderloin with port wine, chicken breast stuffed with bacon and almond sauce, and even baby eels:

We also went to see a flamenco show. I didn’t realize how much tap dancing that involved. Don’t know how she avoids tripping over here dress.

 

The streets in the old city are very narrow, often with shades way up high to keep the sun out. Now is apparently high season, as in the summer it gets over 40deg.

Many streets are pedestrian only, but others, no wider than the one above, allow cars through (just). Plus there are lots of motorbikes, bicycles, and horse-drawn carriages.

To keep the houses cool, the ancients used window shades that would be wetted, thus cooling the breeze as it entered the house:

Along the way, Ceu was accosted by some gremlins.

In 1929 the city put on a huge exposition, and built the Plaza del Espana which is enormous,

along with an even bigger botanical garden

Just a little way from the cathedral, but still within the old city walls, is a brand-new and very controversial building called the Metropol Parasol:

Many people think it is out of place in the historical city, but I thought it was cool.

Underneath it is an excavation of a roman villa.

And it has a walkway across the top:

Three days is all you need to visit the city, and it is very easy to get around as everything is within a short walking distance. We recommend the walking tour to get acquainted with it. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit here.

This afternoon, when the tide changes, we will head back downstream towards Cadiz.

 

 

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