Did you know Seville, on average has 300 days of sunshine per year? Yeah. We haven’t been very lucky with the weather this trip.
This morning we awoke to a dreadful sound. Rain. Well, actually, as we were lying in bed, it was a very soothing sound. But it was more the thought of venturing out into the rain which made me feel some measure of dread. It unfortunately wasn’t the light, gentle pitter patter of a passing shower, it was coming down fairly heavily. Drenching rain. Thanks again freak weather storm systems.
But, we decided to man up and venture out. Its not everyday a traveller finds themselves in Seville and so we dressed warmly, found our trust 5€ umbrella (seriously, even though it was a scam its been so helpful to have!) and ventured out.
First stop: breakfast. Nick located us lovely spot called Cafe Orfeo close to our AirB&B. It seemed to specialise in breakfast toasties and cakes. So naturally, we decided to model our selection after this. Nick ordered a ham and tomato toast which while it sounds ordinary was really, REALLY good, and I ordered a slice of a New York baked cheesecake. We shared our meals and indulged in a very strong, very tasty coffee each. We were pretty happy with our meal.
Even happier, while we ate, the rain outside abated somewhat and so we were able to walk without the shelter of the umbrella to our first stop of the day, the Seville Cathedral. Like the Granada Cathedral, this one also had preserved scholar names on the building, in the traditional bull blood and iron oxide paint. The vibrant red looked really lovely in the rain.
It was still relatively early and the Cathedral had only just opened up to receive visitors for the day and there was already a line out the door and partway around the block. As a rule, Nick and I don’t really do lines. We had managed to avoid them for the whole trip (barring boarding planes and other means of transport that is). But we had heard that the inside of the Cathedral was pretty spectacular and the line seemed to be moving fairly quickly. We estimated that it only took us 20 minutes to make it to the front of the line.
We paid admission and then got to enter the Cathedral. I will say, it was definitely worth the wait. The church interior was stunningly beautiful in a way that the pictures won’t do it justice. The stained glass windows were absolutely vibrant with colour and the different exhibits in the many chapels were also gloriously detailed (though some were actually a bit creepy).
The Cathedral actually started its life as a mosque but when Seville was taken over by Ferdinand III it was converted to a Christian Church. Technically its the largest cathedral in the world though there are two larger churches (St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City being the largest of course).
Nick was on a mission though, so we didn’t stop to gape at these too much. His main goal was to climb the Giralda, which is the bell tower of the Cathedral. He had the right idea since it apparently gets very busy and then becomes hard to walk up/down. Happily for me, there weren’t actually any steps, just sloping ramps. There were still 34 levels to climb but it wasn’t a terribly steep gradient and it wasn’t slippery at all so we made it to the top without pausing.
The view from the top was pretty magnificent, overcast day non-withstanding. It wasn’t very busy either yet, so we were free to take out time and get some nice shots. The bells were actually pretty cool as well.
On our way back down, we stopped to look at a couple of exhibits which were located in the central column of the bell tower. One rather interesting one showed the inner workings of the clock mechanisms which Nick and I both stopped to pour over.
Once we made it back to the ground level, we stopped to properly look at all the chapels and exhibits. One interesting thing is that Christopher Columbus is interred at the cathedral. There was also a simply gigantic organ at the cathedral. I seriously wonder if its still in use as an instrument.
Once we had seen everything we exited to the courtyard where we were able to see one of the other things that puts Seville on the map – the orange trees. The courtyard, and as we would later discover, even the streets, were lined with fragrant, productive orange trees. These were fruiting (thought at this point in time they looked like limes) and looked like they could produce enough oranges to keep a juice company afloat. Possibly literally.
Unfortunately, as we were making our way to our next planned stop, the Alcázar of Seville, it started pouring rain and as there was already an incredibly long line, we decided to skip that area today and visit tomorrow instead.
We then visited a very much less packed attraction, the Flamenco Museum where we learned a little about flamenco dancing history & culture, but we didn’t attend one of the live shows. The exhibits were quite interesting thought largely in Spanish but I really enjoyed the interactive museum where we learned about the different flamenco styles and that not all of them could actually be danced to.
The dancers in the videos, artwork and photography all seemed very passionate about the art form – it was quite wonderful to see. All this wasn’t Nick’s particular idea of a good time but at the very least, we were out of the rain for a while. There was one exhibit upstairs that absolutely delighted me which was an animated, wooden puppet show. It was intricately made and played a beat with small hammers that sounded like a flamenco beat while the puppets danced. It was very enchanting.
After we left the museum, we decided to get some lunch at Es La Va which is a tapas bar close to the AirB&B. We had some absolutely smashing food here including a fillet of mackeral, rosemary honey glazed pork ribs, stewed beef cheek which absolutely melted in our mouths and a REALLY uniquely presented “cigarello”…. it looked like an actual cigarette, complete with ash and smoke. This was actually a pastry filled with codfish and a rather indescribable sweet algae. The mix of fish and sweet might sound off-putting but in practice, they married together wonderfully.
Unfortunately, despite our best efforts to stay sheltered, Nick and I both got fairly wet in the downpour and had sat outside for lunch. By the time we were done, I was shivering a little and Nick wasn’t much better. So we headed back to the AirBnB to take long, hot showers and warm up again.
Once we had relaxed and warmed up again, we decided to see to another necessity. Laundry. We wanted to have some clean clothes available and the sleepy siesta time seemed as good a time as any. So we headed down to a local lavadora and got it done. It was cheaper than in Italy and the washing liquid used smelled really nice! While we were waiting for the washing cycle to finish, I walked to a nearby cafe and ordered us some hot chocolate. Unfortunately, the cafe had run out of hot chocolate but they had a substitute called ColaCao which was basically the same as Ovaltine or chocolate Quik back home. It was super cheap and still pretty nice though as it was such a cold day. They basically gave me a couple of packets of the ColaCao with cups of hot milk. We just added the powder ourselves and voila! Hot Chocolate! Kind of!
Once the wash and drying cycles were done, we dropped the clothes back to the AirBnB and headed for a light dinner at Antigua Abaceria de San Lorenzo. We were lucky we got there relatively early as the place filled up very quickly and people were being turned away shortly after we were seated.
It was probably one of the more upscale places we had visited and this was reflected a little in the pricing, though it was still less than 20€ in total. We each had a small hot sandwich, one with spicy chorizo and the other with iberican ham and we shared a bowl of steaming hot clams in a tomato sauce. It was a wonderful, delicious meal!
After this, we headed back to the AirBnB to fall into bed, ready for an early start the next morning!
Km’s walked: 11.2
Flights complete: 7/10
Tomorrow: Alcázar of Seville and Madrid Transit