Sunday, December 7, 2008


Tonya was feeling better Saturday morning (she had a nasty cold last week), so we decided it was time to visit Sevilla (Seville, for you Americanos). We’ve become good at looking for the cheap train tickets; I was able to find seats for 8,20€ each (each way, of course, but still a good deal!). Take a look at our pictures at

We´ve become a little more travel-savvy after a few months here. Therefore, rather than paying a taxi driver to take us into town, we took a bus. With hindsight, that may not have been the best way to enjoy Sevilla. The bus route took us through drab neighborhoods, and the overcast skies didn´t help. It started us off with a negative impression of the city that took a little time to eliminate even after we´d made it into the pretty part of town. (Although Tonya still says it´s an ugly town.)

And the pretty part of town really is nice. One day wasn´t enough to see all of the things we wanted to see, and we´d have liked to spend some more time in the places we did see. We started off with the Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija, then went on to the cathedral and the Alcázar. At this point, we decided that we deserved to relax and enjoy some tapas and drinks. That pretty effectively filled the day. (Note regarding tea: in Sevilla, Tonya was served hot tea made with milk, rather than water. She declared it the best hot tea she´d ever had.)

The Palacio was built in the 1500´s and extensively remodeled in the 1800´s. The Condesa used it mostly to house beautiful artwork that she´d collected during her world travels. There are magnificent Roman mosaics, Italian sculptures, and Moroccan furniture. She was quite a modern woman for the late 1800´s, the first to graduate from the Academy of Fine Arts in Sevilla.

The cathedral is the third-largest in Europe, behind only St. Peter´s at the Vatican and St. Paul´s in London. We ascended the Giralda bell tower, along with a gazillion other tourists, to enjoy the views of the city. Interestingly, the Giralda has ramps to the top, rather than stairs. This dates back to the Muslim days, when the faithful could ride their horses to the top of the tower for their five-times-a-day prayers. Sadly, people are not on their best behavior in crowded tourist locations. We were jostled and pushed and elbowed by fellow human beings from all over the world.

The Alcázar (castle) is magnificent. The original structure was built by the Moors in the 10th century, and expanded by King Pedro I in the 1300´s. I almost wish we´d seen it before we went to Granada, because it just doesn’t get to the same level as the Alhambra. (One can´t help making comparisons.) The gardens are prettier, though, and I wish we´d had more time to stroll about. There´s something for another visit.

The downtown Christmas lights were ceremoniously lit this weekend in Córdoba, and we´ve been enjoying them in the evenings. We got back to the train station last night around 9:30, and took the long way home. See the pictures at

Spain doesn´t seem to have the Christmas excesses of the United States, but the local merchants are trying hard to get everyone to spend lots of money.

Hopefully we didn´t overdo it, because Tonya´s feeling pretty run-down again today. Monday is a holiday, so we´ll take it very easy.

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