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Southern Spain

Southern Spain
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Again, Seville is a Spanish city we'd visited before, and again, I'll try not to repeat too much of what I said in the Seville pages for that trip. But I will quickly recap a few things: First, Seville (Sevilla in Spanish) is the fourth largest city in Spain (about 700,000 people, after Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia) and is located on Spain's only navigable river, the Guadalquivir, about 50 miles upstream from the sea. Like the rest of the Iberian Peninsula, it was under Moorish rule for centuries, but it was recaptured by Christians (led by Ferdinand III of Castile) relatively early in the Reconquista, in 1248 (almost 250 years before Granada). A number of Spanish voyages of exploration were planned in and sometimes departed from Seville. Seville's major points of interest for tourists are its cathedral and a complex of palaces and gardens called the Alcázar. Seville is the hottest major metropolitan area in Europe, averaging highs of 96°F in August. On the rare occasions when Americans think about Seville, they probably think of it in terms of Rossini's opera The Barber of Seville (or its iconic interpretations by the Little Rascals or Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd), or of David Seville, of chipmunk fame. During our visit we didn't see any barbers (though one has to assume they exist), or rodents of any kind (ditto).

We began our day in Granada, where we packed up, checked out and caught a taxi to the Granada train station, from which there was a nice last view of the city.


Nella and Philip at Train Station
Nella and Philip at Train Station
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View with Monastery of San Jerónimo de Granada
View with Monastery of San Jerónimo de Granada
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After a three-hour trip across the countryside, we arrived at Seville's Santa Justa Train Station and caught another taxi to the Bécquer Hotel, where we would be spending the next two nights. It was still early, so we went out to see some sights. This involved a fair amount of walking, as the Bécquer isn't located that close to the tourist points of interest. But we were ready for a walk after having been cooped up in the train all morning, and in due time we found ourselves in the Plaza del Triunfo, located between the Cathedral and the Alcázar. Besides being between these attractions, the Plaza del Triunfo holds a couple of interesting monuments. One of them, the Triumph Monument, celebrates the city's perseverance following a 1755 earthquake (this earthquake caused part of the Cathedral to collapse, and also destroyed the city of Lisbon, Portugal), and also gives the plaza its name.

Alcázar and Plaza del Triunfo
Alcázar and Plaza del Triunfo
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Philip in Plaza del Triunfo
Philip in Plaza del Triunfo
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Triumph Monument (1757)
Triumph Monument (1757)
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Triumph Monument, Detail
Triumph Monument, Detail
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Bob and Monument to the Immaculate Conception (1918)
Bob and Monument to the Immaculate Conception (1918)
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Monument to the Immaculate Conception, Detail
Monument to the Immaculate Conception, Detail
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Around the corner of the Cathedral is the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes. Some interesting buildings, notably the Archbishop's Palace, are located on this square, as is an interesting fountain. This is also a place where horse-drawn carriages line up to wait for passengers.

Cathedral and Horse Carriages
Cathedral and Horse Carriages
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Giralda
Giralda
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Fountain, Plaza Virgen de los Reyes
Fountain, Plaza Virgen de los Reyes
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Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop's Palace)
Palacio Arzobispal (Archbishop's Palace)
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Not quite hungry yet, we went in search of some evening entertainment, and found it a short distance from the Cathedral, at the Auditorio Álvarez Quintero, a small flamenco theater. The Auditorio is not one of the more common tablaos, which also provide food and drink (for a price!), but an intimate theater which presents an hour-long flamenco performance without distractions. For people like us, who don't care whether the flamenco comes with sangria (well, Philip might have liked one or two), the small theaters are a much better deal, especially since many of the performers also perform at the tablaos.

We got in line early, so we could get decent seats. The theater consisted of a small stage, with several rows of chairs facing it. The flamenco group was made up of four people: a guitarist, a singer/hand clapper (female, unlike other shows we'd attended), a male dancer and a female dancer. The performance was excellent (I guess – I probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference, unless someone were to fall off the stage or light something on fire; I enjoyed it though), with photography forbidden until the last five minutes or so. This actually made sense, as flamenco is very much dependent on an attitude (typified by our overwrought and tortured performers), and photographic distractions would be unwelcome. But things lightened up during the last five minutes, as the spectators (including us) hauled out and activated their various picture-taking gizmos.


Flamenco Performers
Flamenco Performers
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Girl Flamenco Dancer
Girl Flamenco Dancer
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Guy Flamenco Dancer
Guy Flamenco Dancer
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Dancers
Dancers
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By the time the show was over, we were very hungry, and we ended up at an outdoor café we'd patronized two years earlier.

Café on Jamerdana
Café on Jamerdana
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Bob and Philip at Café
Bob and Philip at Café
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On our way back to the hotel, we passed by the now-completed Metropol Parasol, a structure we'd seen under construction two years earlier. More on this in a future page.

Bob and Metropol Parasol

Bob and Metropol Parasol
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As in Granada, our plan for Seville was to spend one full day in the city. This being the case, we needed to be organized. Also somewhat rested, so we would be able to accomplish our goals. Item one on our plan was to visit the Cathedral.

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