First of all may I say thank you for all your emails and messages of sympathy for my deep-fried feet plight from our last post. Various remedies were proposed including one from Helen which involved smearing the affected parts with yogurt. Great call Helen, it worked a treat – with the bonus that there’s now a lovely delicate scent of strawberries wherever I go. I dare say the crunchy bits from the corner of the pot will wash out of my socks eventually. While we’re on the subject, today’s top tip: if you have a rucksack on one shoulder, don’t hold your takeaway coffee in that hand… A clash of rucksacks in a queue gave me a scalded hand to match my pink feet!
Thank goodness enough time has now elapsed for all my injuries to get better so we’ve been out on the exploration trail again. After we last spoke, our plan was to head to Seville on a city break for a few days, then to Cadiz for the Easter weekend. We’ll save the Cadiz bit for the next post rather than bore you with too much city talk, but I can confidently say that these two cities are highlights of the trip so far.
The Seville stay very nearly didn’t happen. As we were approaching from the west, and our destination camperstop was on the east of the city, we had to battle through the rush-hour city traffic. I’m usually ok with this – yes Vince is a big fella, but that means folks tend to give us a bit of space – but despite updating the satnav before we left, it didn’t seem to know that Seville had dug up about a dozen roundabouts and replaced them with complicated crossroads. What was worse, was that every time we were supposed to turn left at a non-existent “roundabout” the replacement junctions were festooned with ‘no left turn’ signs. We were up, down, left, right, over bridges, under tunnels until we were dizzy. And then…when we finally found the camper stop… it had closed down. Aaaaaargh! I was all for heading straight out of town and back to the beach but fortunately Gill is made of sterner stuff and she quickly found us an alternative just over the other side of the river. This aire, although it was a couple of miles out of town, had everything we needed. Power, water, drainage and excellent cycle paths straight into the historic centre.
Our arrival coincided with Semana Santa, the Holy Week where celebrations build all the way up to Easter Sunday. On our first night in Seville we managed to catch one of the processions of choirs and marching bands which come from all over town to converge at the Cathedral, with dozens of strong men carrying ornate religious tableaux representing bible scenes. Sorry about the pretentious use of tableaux but it just doesn’t feel right calling them carnival floats but that’s what they put me in mind of!
Seville is such a lovely place to wander around and people-watch. In the morning we had seen teams of council workers hosing the streets and litter-picking, leaving the walkways and tramways shiny clean and sparkling in the sunshine. The Spanish love a religious holiday, and were all dressed in their Sunday best, meeting friends and chatting in the street cafés or under the orange trees in the shady plazas, and watching the horse-drawn carriages go jingling past.
We had a bit of a disappointment on our second day there as the Cathedral was only open to visitors for a short time each day during Holy Week, and we’d missed our chance. This was a shame as it’s (Jeremy Clarkson voice) “The biggest Gothic Cathedral… in the world.” As our motorhome parking ticket didn’t expire until late afternoon the following day we decided we’d make a flying visit back into town – for the third time – just to see the cathedral. Meantime, to counter the disappointment, there was only one thing to do – luuuuuuunch! We decided to get ourselves truly lost among the narrow streets and alleyways behind the cathedral, where the clients of the bars and tapas houses were spilling outside in a hubbub of noise and laughter. Mostly at my swollen pink feet it has to be said. We found a table at the unfortunately-named Casa Tomate – Tomato House, and went for the full tapas experience. Seven different regional dishes with a local wine we’d never heard of. The seafood-stuffed avocado was a meal in itself, so we gamely had to steel ourselves for the fried anchovies, spicy chick-peas & spinach, the warm goats cheese with caramelised honey, and…and…phwoaar!
We were so glad we returned to the cathedral the following day as it’s spectacular. It’s large enough to fit an entire football stadium inside and its main altarpiece is gilded with gold brought back from the New World by Christopher Columbus. Which is a coincidence as his earthly remains are also held here. Attached to the cathedral is the Moorish Giralda Tower. Originally a 12th Century Islamic Minaret, it is one of the few remaining elements of the original Great Mosque which was replaced by the cathedral. And we climbed it. All 17 steps. That’s a little deceptive however as those 17 steps are right at the top. Before you get there you have to negotiate 34 ramps winding their way up to the 100 metre-high bell tower. It’s a long climb, but worth it for the views!
Thankfully, as the plan was to head for Cadiz for Easter, getting out of Seville was an absolute breeze; we didn’t have to go back through the city. Our intention was to head for a little town on the Bay of Cadiz which we’d heard was a great place to catch the ferry to explore the city itself, rather than trying to drive through the busy narrow cobbled lanes. Once bitten and all that! 😀
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