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  • The Seville Cathedral, Real Alcazar: Sevilla!

    Sevilla, Espana

    August 21, 2019

    Yesterday, Tuesday, was Day 3 of our Spanish tour and it was another long, fun day…though Robin did comment that touring was much harder and more exhausting than playing tennis! We had an early start with a 6am taxi ordered, since there was a warning of a security personnel strike in Barcelona. The check in and security though went smoothly there. We flew Vueling, a discount Spanish airline and again were bused from the terminal to the plane…then back as there was a mechanical problem. We got going though only about 90 minutes late and were in Seville by about noon.

    After dropping off luggage and getting a picnic lunch, we headed out to the Seville Cathedral, the larges gothic church in the world, and the biggest cathedral (previously the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul was the largest cathedral in the world). It has a massive footprint (to completely cover the mosque that stood there before the cathedral). It was built starting in 1434 and finished in the early 16th century. It is so massive…it’s hard to imagine how it was built, obviously with manpower only. And it’s beautiful…the choir room, the organs and the massive nave and the Gothic retalbo carved in wood of scenes of Christ (it looks like gold). Christopher Columbus and his son Diego along with Kings are buried there. I spent 90 minutes walking around it, before we climbed the tower or Giraldo or bell tower. Unlike other churches in Europe I’ve been in, there’s a ramp up to all but the last floor, wide enough for horses to carry supplies up. There were 34 turns before we reached the staircase, each numbered. the tower is 343 feet high, and the view from the top was great. It’s hot here and I saw a lot of people enjoying swimming pools yesterday. We could also see the bull ring (for bull fighting).

    After visiting the church we had a half hour break then went to the Real Alcazar, a Royal Palace, which, like the cathedral, is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Jenny Cerff had to leave today so we maximized her time here. Gayle Prejean, a Texas player, joined us later in the day in the palace gardens. The architecture is in the Mudéjar style, a blend of Muslim and Spanish style. The interiors have lots of carved plaster and tile which are very interesting and beautiful, even the ceilings, and an interior courtyard with a long rectangular reflecting pool. The gardens are extensive and include a maze, fountains and peacocks.

    I went exploring and eventually texted Susan to ask where she was…her response…in the garden…well there are 13 gardens at the Alcazar. Eventually Tim and I found them because I asked Gayle to text us a photo of where they were.

    By the time we exited it was 7:30…and I’d exhausted everyone except Tracey. We checked in, got some food and today will have a more relaxing day checking out Seville (and it’s going to be 100+ here today…feels a lot like the Central Valley of California).

    Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter

    Guell Park, Casa Mila, & Susan Ate Paella: Barcelona Day 2


  • Guell Park, Casa Mila, & Susan Ate Paella: Barcelona Day 2

    Barcelona, Spain

    Monday August 19, 2019

    It was a long and fun day in Barcelona today. We started early, leaving at 7am for Park Guell. We took the Metro, which stops at the bottom of the park. We took escalators and stairs up. Robin Harris hasn’t decided yet whether the tennis the last two weeks, or the sight seeing is more physically difficult…all I can say is that yesterday she cramped after sight seeing…..I took around 25000 steps, over 10 miles and climbed 45 flights of stairs today. It was a really nice day too, not so hot and humid as yesterday.

    Park Guell was originally intended to be an exclusive suburban area for families and Guell commissioned Gaudi to design the estates in 1900…the location eventually proved untenable for families (too far out of town), and Guell closed the area 14 years later but not before Gaudi designed aqueducts, walking paths, and put his mark on the property, which is now owned by the city and is World Heritage site. We enjoyed seeing the lizard, the entrance and porter’s lodges and the undulating bench of the Nature Square and of course all the mosaics. The views were good too, of Barcelona. We also climbed up to the crosses after we left the Monumental Zone of the park (the only area requiring a ticket for entry).

    After we left the park area, we went to shop…Uniqlo, Decathalon and Uno de 50. Tim, Susan’s husband, went to visit the Gothic Quarter. We met up at 2 to go down towards the water for lunch via the Metro again (the T-10 card, good for 10 rides, and which can be used for multiple people is a bargain at 10,20 Euros). We found the recommended place in a quiet square off the main drag and had a Spanish lunch…Seafood Paella for Susan, Tim and Tracey, Hake for Robin, veggies for Jenny and I had good octopus and sardines (small plates and shared). We all had some Patatas Bravas, which were excellent (chunks of fried potatoes, served there with the sauce on the side). Susan even tried a bite of the octopus, and had some paella. About half way through, I told her that she was eating squid with the rice (along with shrimp). She was quite surprised (I think she thought it was chicken). The sardines aren’t like the ones in the USA, they are small, whole fish, grilled (and very tasty).

    In the evening we went to Casa Mila, which was designed as an apartment house by Gaudi for the Mila family who occupied one entire floor. It was so interesting…modern with lots of light and the details…the molding around the doors and windows, and the roof where the chimneys are disguised and become works of art were fantastic. The view from the roof was great too.

    We are off Tuesday to Sevilla where more fun awaits.

    Sagrada Familia & Gothic Quarter