Monday 27 July 2009

Andalousia, part 1 - Seville

We've seen a lot of Europe over the years. Find out what we did from our 'blast from the past' posts.

In October 2000, Pen took a short and unexpected trip to Andalousia in Spain. What happened is that Pen's parents had booked a trip, but this was in Pen's Dad's pre-retirement days. Almost inevitably his company decided that they needed him in Thailand or somewhere so he had to blow Pen's Mum off for a few days. Pen stepped in to fill the gap. This is what she wrote soon after the trip.

Visiting Seville

My mother and I set off to explore Seville at about 6 in the evening and promptly got lost in a maze of narrow residential streets. It seems that a lot of Spanish and Portuguese towns have avoided the worst horrors of car traffic by having streets that are just too narrow for cars. On the other hand life gets quite awkward when one of the rare cars does come along. Eventually we found the shopping district and discovered that Seville is THE place to be for Flamenco dresses from the exquisite to the tacky, wedding dresses (ditto), matching negliges for the wedding night!, christening sets for 9 months later, matching crib sets and children's clothes. After this we found ourselves under Seville's main landmark, the Giralda without knowing quite how it happened.

By this time it was getting dark and we decided it was time to go and look for a drink. My mum was very keen to go to a typical and genuine Spanish tapas bar and we eventually found one with plenty of azulejos, old photographs of corridas, even older hams hanging from the ceiling and some very nice tapas. I think, however that my mum decided it was a bit too genuine when she saw that the bartender was leaving his cigarette on the kitchen counter with the ash dropping onto the floor. The Spanish smoke a lot, and the next time I hear a foreigner complain about the French smoking I think I will send them to Madrid or Seville where they can develop a sense of perspective.

The last time I came to Spain was on the coast near Barcelona and I definitely got the impression that I was eating to live (and that it might not be worth bothering). The food in Andalousia came as a very, very pleasant surprise. There is also some kind of meal going on practically all day and all night, though fortunately it is not compulsory to eat all of them. The city is very busy at night, but it is not quite nightlife as we know if. Whole families are out in cafes and restaurants until way past midnight with their babies, toddlers and children who all seem to behave angelically. Even very young adolescents are out late on their own, obviously the city centre at this time is considered completely safe for them. Although it is dark, it might as well be the middle of the afternoon.

The next day, we did Seville's main tourist things - climbed the Giralda and spent a long time in the beautiful gardens and palace of the Real Alcazar.

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