On the 8th day (5th April 2014) of our Spain trip, in Seville, myself and B got ready a little early (around 7.30 am or so) and decided to scout the place a little before A and C got ready. We were surprised to see it so deserted. Except for all those joggers, kayaking people and a BIG group of Marathon runners who were starting their way from the Maria Luisa Park. None of the shops or restaurants were open for us to have a cup of coffee. We went around looking in the inside streets until we found one finally. They didn’t speak English at all and since B could manage enough Spanish he got us coffee and also answered a little about ourselves when the husband and wife who are running that small place asked about us. They were so surprised and happy to hear that we came from India. The guy said that his wife knows that our movies are called Bollywood 😉 We sat there and enjoyed our coffee along with a TV show they were watching (some top 10 comedy stuff which was quite funny). We moved on once that got over and headed back to our hotel. The previous night when we went for a stroll, we could find a few pubs near our hotel fully occupied even at 11.30 pm. But come morning no soul is seen.
Tidbit : They don’t open the shops till 11 am (and it was a Saturday too). Thankfully when we were back, the hotel’s breakfast was ready (it was served after 8 am) and we had our sumptuous breakfast there (for a cheaper rate and lot of veg and fruit options available) and started our city tour. The first place (again through walking) was to Torre del Oro
. We saw some Kayaking competition going on in the river (we have to cross a bridge to get to the Plaza de Torro). By the time we reached there, we had some flyers from people for the river cruises. Since we were planning to take one later , we got the information and went ahead to the tower. It is a not a big one and is of two levels.
They also have some small exhibition inside of the history of Seville and how it was used as a port earlier and all that stuff. From the tower it is a very short walk to the Cathedral, via Calle Almirante Lobo and then take a left on the fountain there to go to the Cathedral. These roads have tram access too, so we need to be a little careful while walking around and since it is a very touristy place, there are quite a crowd involved and these places are packed with buskers and musicians too. We also stopped by a candy shop to buy some candies to munch on our way. On the way to the Cathedral, we saw to lovely ladies performing Flamenco and were doing a very fine job of it that we stood for almost two songs and then proceeded to the Cathedral.
To our surprise, there was a huge queue for getting in and we weren’t sure if we should be joining. Seems like there are some time limitations i.e. it opened only at 11 and is opened till only 5. We had to wait in the line for sometime to get the ticket and go inside and as usual, we decided that we will meet others in the exit if we got split.
This is a very very big Cathedral and is more Gothic in nature. Check out the roof of the Cathedral, which in fact you can also see in a HUGE mirror that they have kept for people to view closely and also take photographs. I went around checking out the various statues, the tomb of Columbus and everything. Then in one corner there was a line to go to the Giralda Tower. I wasn’t very sure if I should go ahead. I also saw people guarding it and there was a digital counter showing the number of people in and out of it. I guess it is to limit the number of people climbing the tower. I had my backpack and my camera and no clue as to where others were or if they already left. Then, on an impulse I went inside. Then starts the nightmare. It was a not a staircase route to the tower, it was the wheelchair access based route made of stones. And to add to the horror it was winding and winding and winding. And every wind there is a room depicting something on the left and a window on the right. I had no clue as to how high it was and guess it to be 10-12 bends, but when it crossed 15 and I started panting, I panicked. Now how the hell am I supposed to go down in the slope without falling down and with the luggage of my camera and lenses and stuff. I tried walking slowly down and felt OK so decided to go ahead. After 25th bend I was almost ready to give up and go back. But everyone was having fun going up and down running, especially kids. And there were lot of old people too and that put me to shame. I said to myself, I have come this far, just a little more, hopefully and went ahead. It ended up at last after 34th steep bend. Oh my God (In real, I actually sort of swore very softly to myself) and there the top of the tower with SO many people there. I could hardly get through and had to wait for someone to get down from the elevated step to take a picture. And there were too many bells hanging above. I was hoping that it wouldn’t ring. I don’t want to go deaf. Here is a view of the city from the top of the Giralda Tower in the Cathedral.
After taking some pictures out there, again the nightmare of coming down started. I took twice and more the time I took for going up. Because I was scared of slipping. Went very very slow and had to hold the walls for every step. There was this young kid who was running up and down and he saw me going like that and that must have made him wonder about what the hell I was doing. So he kept going two bends down and he would wait and once he saw me there he would go up and then again run down. Show off!!! He did that for the whole trip down. I should admit that I was slightly embarrassed. May be he was just wondering or he was making fun of me. I have no clue. But I wasn’t ready to put my health at risk for that. I took my time and once I was on solid ground, I gave myself a high five and then went ahead to the exit. I had my adrenalin rush for the whole day. My body couldn’t take any more. After coming and texting others that I was done, A came around telling that she was already there for some time. C came out after a while and then B rang up asking me if I saw the tower and if I needed help with the bag so that I could accompany him if I wanted to go up. I told him , very proudly, that I did see it and he was surprised 🙂 Then we let him finish his trip and till then we were chilling out in the exit. Once he came out, he was like ‘really, I didn’t expect you of all people to go up there alone’ (A and C didn’t go up). I was happy actually.
Once that was done we went to a small street opposite of it and had a very nice lunch and relaxed for a while. It was getting quite hot by then.
After that we came back all the way out to go to the Alcazar. It is a sort of a fort and yet it had so many levels and also places to see inside. I was a little tired than usual and I walked around to see the places in the ground floor and left the gardens and went and sat in the main entrance for others to finish the rest. C came back and said that the gardens were good and A and B went to the levels in the 2nd floor for some nice museums out there. I saw only the ones where they had the courtyards for maidens and other stuff like that. I did see a lot of Islamic influence in the architecture, but that is a standard thing in the Andalusian area.
After Alcazar we were wondering what to do and I suggested that we could take that 45 minute horse carriage ride which gives you an overview of the whole place. A wasn’t happy about it (we are torturing the horse) and B was OK with the fun associated with it and C was neutral. So we started our carriage ride (45 Euros for 60 minutes and could carry 4 people – just perfect for us). They took us all the way to the Tower and then through the Maria Luisa Park to the Plaza de Espana, Palace of San Telmo, the Tobacco Factory, the insides of the park a big circle like that and then came and dropped us near Alcazar. It was already time for our coffee by then and it was around 4 pm or so. So we walked around the Cathedral on the way back to the tower and stopped at a coffee shop and relaxed for a while. Then we were contemplating if we should go back for some more visit or should we finish off the cruise. We then decided that we will finish off the cruise and then head back to hotel for some rest before dinner (we were supposed to leave to Granada the next day and so some packing should be done).
When we went there, we had to wait for a few more minutes before the cruise started and we saw the one of the two cruises that was scheduled was all getting decked up. Looked like there was a marriage to be held on that cruise (which we saw after our cruise was over) The Guadalquivir River cruise (the same river we saw in Cordoba) takes around an hour to complete, going through some 9 bridges and also pointing out some important places on the way like the Triana bridge, Schindler Tower
It was nice and relaxing and cool.
Once we were done with the cruise, we walked to our hotel. On the way we saw , just near our hotel, a procession going on in the event of the coming Holy Week (according to B) After that we rested for a while and then we back for a quick dinner in one of the small streets near by. It was the cheapest meal we ever had. It was in a small place between the big apartments and was filled with families with kids running around. Sort of looked like we entered someone’s house party , had some food and left 🙂
After that came back and saw the return procession of the same group of people we saw earlier and then went to a good and nice sleep. The hotel was also very comfy. But we had to get up very early to catch our 6.40 am train to Granada so booked a cab for 5.15 or so and went to sleep a little early (say around 10.30 pm or so)