Yesterday, we stopped by the Royal Alcázar, which is the official palace of the king of Spain, Juan Carlos I. For only 8€ each we found what is easily the most beautiful garden I’ve ever seen. Erica and I stayed for hours. I’m amazed to find that the palace has so much Islamic influence given that it was built during the Christian era. As it turns out, this style is called Mudéjar, which is a confluence of Muslim and Christian architectural styles; a beautiful, unique and inspiring result of Muslims and Christians living side by side for so long in peace. If you have a bucket list, this place needs to be on it. I could barely believe my eyes.
In the garden, there were what looked like orange trees everywhere. The oranges belonged to the king but we were hungry so of course I had to steal one. While I wasn’t caught, I immediately regretted my decision as it was the worst tasting fruit I’ve ever had. It was something like a stronger version of a grapefruit.
Fear and loathing at Alcázar
For my fellow friends given to panic attacks… While we were standing in line to get into Alcázar, I started panicking for no apparent reason. This was the worst panic attack of the trip so far. My heart raced. I felt light-headed and was sure I would pass out. I wanted to sprint in any direction. In a flash I thought I’d excuse myself, let Erica take the tour and I would sit outside in misery. Then, it occurred to me as it did several years ago, that I would not give in to this irrational emotion any longer. I decided that I would rather die living, than allow some inconsistency of mind to take over. Whenever an involuntary feeling, painful muscle contraction or chest pain hit me, I thought “Victory over my fears or death. There will be no middle-ground today.” It worked remarkably well. After a few minutes, I would come back to “normal” and was able to stay at the palace as long as I wanted. Had I given in, I would have missed out on one of those rare moments of intense beauty in life.
The picnic, some paintings and our new buddy Tom
After Alcázar, we saw a painter named Jesus along the outer wall selling his art. We found him to be an incredibly kind man who had one of the coolest dogs, second to Bailey of course, and the dog’s name was Tom. We ended up buying a few of Jesus’ paintings which apparently upset a drunken Irish artist named Terrance who was a hundred feet away or so. I only know his name because later that night he stopped us on the street (mid tapas and booze hunting) to mention that his feelings were hurt. He was a nice guy though and after talking with him for a few minutes we became friends. Anyway, back to Tom. We stopped in the square right outside the palace to have a picnic. We fed the pigeons for awhile and, to our surprise, Tom came out of the woodwork to hang out with us. I unintentionally taught him to chase the pigeons after throwing him scraps and he spent the next thirty minutes letting them land in bulk, then quickly chasing them away. He was hilarious!
Más tapas y cerveza, por favor
Refreshed from a brief siesta at the hotel, we went out to several restaurants and had a blast. Spanish food can be very rich at times, so we unintentionally ordered a salmon plate that laid on top of what must have been a full cup of mayo. We also ate oxtail (cola de toro) which tastes a lot like pot roast but better. Can’t wait to make it at home!
Now, on to the photos. Enjoy!
In Mudejar architecture, a square room represents the earth, and a round ceiling represents the universe. Stunning!
Note the painter in the window
These gardens were some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.
Our buddy Tom on the prowl
Great street artist and Tom’s owner. We bought a couple of his paintings for the house and as gifts.
What a cute pup.