Seville (Tues., Mar. 27, 2012)

Today we took a drive northwest to Seville.  Our (new) bus driver was named “Israel,” and Paco was our tour guide.

On the way to Seville, we passed a large solar panel energy plant, a winery, and a monastery.  There were a few small villages with the usual white houses and terra cotta tile roofs situated within the saddles between a couple of hills.  In places, the olive orchards went on forever in every direction.  There was an olive oil processing plant.  Again, it was difficult to hear Paco during the drive, since there was too much noise coming from the rowdies in the back of the bus, though I did hear him say something about “beautiful Spanish horses” located somewhere in the vicinity (I presume he was referring to Andalusians, also called “The Pure Spanish Horse”).

Paco said that in Seville, home to almost a million people, “they are always having fun!”

He said that there have been seven new bridges built over the Quadalquivir River  (The Big River) since Spain became members of the European Union in 1988 (I think).  We saw some of the bridges as we drove into the city, and they were all very beautifully designed in a modern art sort of way (for instance, one looked like the huge sail of a ship).

Paco said that they grow a lot of oranges around here but the oranges are bitter, and “We don’t like them, so we send them to the English.”  (The English make marmalade from them.)  There’s also a monastery in Seville, and the monks made beautiful ceramics, probably like some of the colorful pieces you have seen in my photos.

Still driving along, we passed the “Golden Tower,” a tall, narrow castle-like building where all the gold that arrived from the New World was kept after Christopher Columbus’ (Cristobal Colon in Spanish) voyages.

We also passed the “Palace of Princess Maria Luisa,” and lots and lots of Pavilions, such as the Pavilion of Brazil, the Pavilion of Colombia, the Pavilion of Guatemala, etc.

We stopped at (see 2nd photo) the “Monument of the Discovery of the new World in 1492,” which featured the two pillars of Hercules, a ship like one of Christopher Columbus’ ships in the center, a plaque for King Ferdinand on one side and another for Queen Isabella on the other.  At this point, we were handed over to our guide, “Michaelangelo,” for viewing this area.  He was very good–informative and funny–and he led us through the old wall and to the huge Cathedral of St. Mary (“Santa Maria Cathedral”), which had originally been a mosque, but after the Christians took over the city from the Arabs, they built their church on top of the mosque.  This cathedral is the third most important cathedral to Roman Catholics, after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome and St. David’s Cathedral in the UK.

This cathedral is also where (most of) Christopher Columbus’ remains are held.  (The Dominican Republic believes they have some of his remains, also.)  In my photos, you will see four men (representing the four kingdoms of Ferdinand & Isabella—Leon, Castile, Navarre, & Aragon) holding up a trunk-like object.  That box holds C. C.’s remains.  Also, the big bronze plaque-thing on the floor is the tomb of C. C.’s son, Diego, who was also an important person to Spain during his day.

After walking through the cathedral, we had some free time to ourselves until it was time for lunch.  (Incidentally, in this area of the city, the “yipsies” were again out in force with their little rosemary sprig offerings.  You didn’t dare look them in the eye, or they would take it as the go ahead to bother you & beg for money.)

Paco took us to the Restaurante San Marco, where we were served a meal of delicious and colorful salads, date-filled “small birds,” delicious Seville wine and some very good chocolate syrup-covered éclair-type desserts.

Then we drove to the Spanish Pavilion (The Plaza de Espana), which was just gorgeous and had a huge plaza in the back, with a small canal flowing through.  Some boaters were paddling along in the canal.

On the drive back to the hotel we made a pit stop and I ordered a “carajillo” (coffee with a shot of brandy & sugar).  A very nice way to end another wonderful, busy day.

Mountain on the way to & from Seville that looks like a person looking up to the sky