Back in Madrid!

After four days in Sevilla (four, really? In some ways it feels like we’ve always been there; it also feels like we just arrived), we have returned to Madrid so that we can catch our flight back to the States tomorrow. Before we left Sevilla, we decided to go to the General Archive of the Indies. Most of the information was in Spanish and hard for me to decipher. The information I was able to gather was very interesting. The diary of Christopher Columbus is housed here. The maps, portraits, and letters were beautifully displayed and the building housing the information was equally impressive. Digital archiving is a special interest of mine, and the archive is currently working on digitalizing their entire collection. Cool stuff!

We also took our last stroll through Sevilla this morning. It is an unforgettable city and I would recommend that anyone who travels to Spain should spend a significant amount of time in Sevilla. We were both sad to leave this city, especially the area in which we spent the majority of our time, the Barrio Santa Cruz.

While driving to Madrid, we stumbled across this impressive castillo off the side of the highway in the Extremaduran area of Spain. It turns out that it is a major monument in the city of Trujillo. Trujillo was the birthplace of the Spanish conqueror of Peru! There is a unique statue of this man, Francisco Pizarro, in the Plaza Mayor of the city. The castillo is actually an old fortress, dating from the era when Spain was conquered by Muslims. We didn’t have much time to spare, so we headed back to the highway before exploring any farther.

Luckily, we made it to Madrid in time for dinner (around 20:00) and have been enjoying cervezas and tapas ever since. Oh, and one last round of chocolate and churros. Bright and early in the morning we’re going to give El Prado another shot before saying goodbye to España (for now!).

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Treasure, Columbus, a cathedral, a tower and el paseo

Another great day in Seville. We started out with a quick walk to the cathedral which is massive and beautiful. Inside, we found the grave of Columbus, which was being “lifted” by four statues in a prominent location. Just a few feet away was one of many treasure rooms, filled with silver, gold and jewels. One of the crowns alone had over 1,100 jewels and was “donated” from the city of Seville to a statue of Mary. Yes, a government entity donated a crazy-expensive crown to a statue. Also inside was an organ that was as tall as the cathedral itself and it had several hundred statues carved into its side.

Afterward, we climbed Giralda tower which, unlike most towers, did not have stairs. Instead, it had a ramp that just goes around and around until you reach the 34th floor. At the top, we were presented with a spectacular 360 degree view of Seville. This… was truly breathtaking. It’s the kind of view that you might see on the travel channel but you never quite believe you’ll see something like that with your own eyes. Looking at the photos afterwards it still felt like we hadn’t been there, but had dreamt it instead.

Starved, tired from the tower and still hungover (by the way we were really hungover), we found a pizza place run by a guy from New York. It was delicious and, believe it or not, was the least rich meal we’ve eaten in days. While eating, we met several ex-pats who passed along some pretty interesting information about what it’s like to live in Spain. We also talked about Holy Week, which unfortunately begins right when we leave. Apparently it’s the best time to be in the city. Next time we’ll know better.

We took a long siesta after the meal and, while Erica was sleeping, I walked around town trying to get lost. I found that to be nearly impossible as we have become so familiar with the area. Finally I gave up, went back to the hotel and woke Erica. We went out for el paseo which means “the stroll”. It’s a spanish custom for well-dressed couples to just walk around the city to take in the sights. It’s peaceful and we’ve done it nearly every day. After our stroll, we had a fantastic dinner where we tried gazpacho (famous cold spicy soup) as well as sopa de pocadillo (ham and egg soup). Also a ton of sangria. We were so tired and full, we left for the hotel to get some rest.

Tomorrow, we head back to Madrid for one more day and then this wonderful trip will have ended. I must say I will be very disappointed to leave and have grown fond of daydreaming that Erica and I are living abroad.

Beautiful Sevilla

Yesterday was another day of absolutely beautiful weather in Sevilla. No rain, no clouds: just blue sky and sunshine. I was so tired by the time we returned to our hotel last night that I didn’t have the energy to post anything.

We switched hotels yesterday because they were doing some type of construction and it was LOUD. All day. We would return to our hotel for siesta and couldn’t rest because of the noise. We are now in the Palacio Alcázar Hotel only a couple of blocks away from our old hotel (and a couple of blocks closer to Tom and the plaza!). This hotel is beautiful and has a rooftop terrace where both the view and the mojitos are incredible.

We went to the Casa de Pilatos, which was very reminiscent of Italy with its Roman statues. The audio tour that we were given seemed to be made for architecture students, as it gave a lot of information. A few rooms in, I decided to just enjoy the beautiful rooms and gardens and lay the audio aside. While this house was not as well maintained as the Alcázar (of course), the tile work was beautiful.

Last night we were lucky enough to get to see traditional flamenco dance at Los Gallos. It was an amazing 1 hour and 45 minute display with only guitar, singer, and dancer. The intricacies involved in this type of dance are difficult to understand. Is it all preplanned? Or are they improvising all the time? A very beautiful and moving display.

On our return to the hotel, we went up to the terrace to have a drink. We met this wonderful Spanish couple from Valencia who were here on vacation. They told us that next week (Holy Week) is a great time to come to Spain, especially Sevilla. How I wish we could stay for the festivities!

We walked around quite a bit yesterday and also drank quite a few sangrias (and mojitos)… And tapas. Oh, the tapas.

I had a realization yesterday: I have not had vegetables in days. We’ve been eating tapas for lunch and dinner everyday since we got here. Thus, our diets have consisted of cured meats and cheeses. I am determined to have a well balanced meal today!