So we’re walking to the train station in Cordoba as we’re leaving for Seville and I realize, damn, I just got my hair cut yesterday. Who gives up the chance to see a barber in Seville? What was I thinking?
Well, except for that blunder, Seville was great. Part of what we’ve been loving about Spain is how great the transportation has been. Trains are easy and comfy, buses have been anywhere from good to great, and the trip to Seville was no different. Such an easy way to move around when you can read, relax, look out the window, and just enjoy seeing the world go by. And by “world” I mean “olive trees.” Millions and millions of olive trees down this part of Spain. And then you get into the city and it’s all orange trees with tons of oranges sitting there. Gotta love that.As we were thinking about spending the fall in Spain a few months ago, the hope was that as we moved south the weather would stay warm enough to enjoy things. Boy, has that worked out for us. Seville – one of the hottest places in Europe with average summer highs in the mid-90s – is fabulous in the late fall. Our days were typically in the upper-70s and even low-80s, which made afternoons in the park glorious.
The only downside is that a lot of hotels regulate their AC based on the calendar rather than the thermometer and in our hotel, at least, the AC was turned off. We had a big window that we could open, but then it was way too loud to sleep. Bars in Spain, you see, get going kind of late (like 1:00 AM or something) and keep going way not the morning. So even if you manage to go to sleep with the window open you’ll be awakened all through the night/morning as revelers work their way home. Basically too hot to sleep with the windows closed and too loud to sleep with the windows open. Not such great options.The lack of sleep aside, though, we loved Seville. It’s definitely a city for having fun in – great bars, great tapas, and lots of happy people enjoying it all. At times I found myself wondering whether anyone in Seville actually works, as there were huge crowds of people at some of the popular watering holes all afternoon and evening. It turns out, of course, that Spain’s unemployment rate is around 25 percent so lots of people don’t work, though I wonder if the high unemployment causes the increased revelry or if it may be the other way around. Why go to Seville? When the Conquistadors started shipping gold from the New World back to Spain, Seville had a royal monopoly on trans-Atlantic trade and thus the city became fabulously wealthy. And so there’s a lot of beautiful stuff to see; it’s really a great place to just wonder around. Among the things you have to see, though, are the Cathedral, the largest cathedral in the world. In fact, when it was completed in the early 16th century it displaced Hagia Sophia in Istanbul as the world’s largest cathedral, a spot it had held for a thousand years. A thousand years! Among the wonders to be seen in the cathedral is the tomb of none other than Christopher Columbus himself.
Otherwise my favorite was the Maria Luisa Park, a huge green space that makes for a perfect reading spot on warm late-fall days. That and wandering around, sampling tapas, and watching all the fun people seemingly enjoying themselves to the fullest in Seville’s thousands of sidewalk cafés and bars. Oh, and one more thing. While touring the cathedral and listening to the audio guide, I realized at some point that these civilians the guide was discussing were not just non-military people; they were in fact Sevillians. Imagine a whole city of civilians!
On to Granada!