Our next stop on our Western Mediterranean cruise was Cadiz, Spain. (Pronounced ca-dith. Sounds like everybody has a lithsp.) We really weren't into seeing Cadiz/Cadith so we rented a plethora of little cars to transport everybody up to Seville. Who is everybody? Oh, I forgot to tell you. We were with the Point Family and their four children and we had dragged along my brother, my brother's pregnant wife, and their toddler.
We raced up the autopista from Cadiz to Seville. Isn't autopista the coolest word ever? It's what they call their freeways in Spain. So much better than auto-BAHN. I feel so much more sophisticated when I say autopista.
Upon arrival in Seville, we were greeted with flamenco dancers on the street. Flamenco dancing is native to this part of Spain.
Our first stop was the Seville Cathedral, built in the 1500's. Before there was a cathedral here, there was a Mosque here that dates to the 1100's when this area of Spain was under Muslim control.
Here is another shot of the cathedral. It was outside this cathedral that I was duped by my first street person selling/hocking/pushing whatever it is they are trying to give you. My family was walking past the cathedral when I stopped a couple of paces back to take some pictures. The gypsy women saw their chance. They ran up to me and grabbed my arms and started touching my face, my arms, my stomach, touching me almost everywhere with sprigs of rosemary saying they were giving me a blessing. I held still and waited for them to finish. They started smiling and demanding that I give them Euros. I shook my head no, and told them I didn't have any money. They then got very mad that they had blessed me and now they weren't going to get paid. So what do they do? They spit at me. So my advice to you is say "no money," before people touch you with herbs. Remember that phrase. "No money!" And decline all blessings. (It gets worse. In a couple of days from now in Morocco I was practically assaulted. Just wait!)
This fabulous tower is the Giralda. It was started when the cathedral was still a Mosque, but finished after the Christians moved back in.
After taking some pictures I turned around and discovered that Matt had actually freaking paid the spitting gypsy women to give Andre a hocus-pocus rosemary blessing. Great. Just great.
On our walk through Seville, we passed stores like this one that sold gorgeous pottery and fans.
Soon it was time for lunch so we decided on tapas for a traditional Spanish meal. Tapas are basically appetizers like dried meats or crackers. They started out as something to cover your wine glass to keep fruit flies out and those crafty Spaniards thought, "Hey, if we are going to cover our wine with something, let's cover it with something we can eat! Like salty meat and crackers!" Boom. Tapas were invented. Luckily we had Mr. Point with us. Mr. Point is fluent in Spanish. To which I say "muy bueno!"
And here they are, the famous Point Family! (Look how the youngest Point has both his hands tucked in Mr. Point's shirt. That cracks me up.)
After tapas it was time to head to the Alcázar of Seville. It is a wonderful palace that started as a Moorish fort hundreds of years ago.
The Alcázar was amazing and definitely one of the best things we saw in Spain.
Me and my girl, Ashlenne.
As we turned corners and wandered around the Alcázar, we were surprised by lush gardens and gorgeous courtyards.
Marigolds remind me of home. My mom always planted them in our front yard when I was little. I found it strange, disheartening, and wonderful all at the same time that such little things like marigolds could remind me so strongly of home and make me miss it so much that it feels like a part of me fell out right on the pavement.
Luckily for me that I have this guy right here to give me a big hug whenever I miss something from back home too much.
The gardens and outlying courtyards of the Alcázar wind and twist and turn creating hidden and beautiful corners, like this gem of an outdoor hallway where the green vines shade everything in a beautiful cool hue.
This is the Patio de las Doncellas, or Courtyard of the Maidens. Legend has it that the Moors who used to rule from here would demand 100 virgin maidens every year as tribute. I can tell you that there are things I would like a lot more as a tribute than 100 virgins. How about 100 new cars? Or 100 pairs of shoes?
Here is a section of the courtyard where intricate tile patterns are inlaid in the walls. Gorgeous.
But not as gorgeous as this. There is just something about palm trees and blue skies at the end of November that really makes my heart sing out!
Or as gorgeous as this! This is the Mercury Fountain.
Right now I am smacking myself for not writing about this earlier. As we stood here, Mr. Point (who had the Rick Steves' Spain book) was telling me all about this fountain and the aqueduct that supplied it. It was really cool stuff. Fast forward six months and I've forgotten everything he told me. Except the part that I thought it was really cool. I looked up the fountain online and could only find pictures. So all I can do is show you this beautiful picture but tell you nothing about it. Sorry. (Bad blogger!)
I must now soothe myself, and you, by posting another picture of the spectacular gardens. It was at this point that I wandered off in the gardens by myself, taking a moment to relax and really let how special this place was sink in. Spanish sky...
But no matter how far I go or wander, I always find my way back.
After my garden wanderings we went down in the basement where it is nice and cool. They had tubs down here for the royalty to relax in in the blazing Spanish summer heat.
This impressive guy is built outside the... are you ready for this? Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla. Or you can just call it the oldest bullfighting ring in the world.
I thought it was interesting that there were chains going around the outside of this building. Normally chains are used to keep something in, keep something out, or to keep something from moving. Maybe this bullfighting ring has to be chained down to keep it from doing the flamenco.
After looking at the bullfighting ring, we got back in our three little compact cars and raced back to Cadiz/Cadith. This was our day in Seville. One of the most beautiful cities in one of the most beautiful countries in the world. Thank you Seville.