In Love in Seville
I’ve been woken, again, by the sound of suitcase wheels being dragged along the cobblestones. What time is it? I can hear birds singing, so it must be daylight. A car rattles down the street and a man calls out ‘Buenos dias!’ Ah, yes, it’s the second morning of our stay in Seville and I’m already in love.
It’s hard not to be in love with this river city, once the heart of the Spanish empire. The beers are cheap and icy cold, the narrow streets wind their way through the old town and there are tapas on every corner. With each day peaking at around 35 degrees (and it’s only the beginning of July), the long afternoon siesta makes sense, even to a couple of through-drinkers like us.
So what does a typical day in Seville look like? We start the morning at a local cafe with a cafe con leche and a tostadas con jamon or con tomate. Afterwards, we take a wander around some of the ancient monuments, followed by a few beers at a small bar and then home for a siesta before heading out again at 8:30 for food and… beer. It’s a way of life that is all too easy (not something you can always say when you’re on the road).
Today we climbed the Torre del Oro, part of the ancient port fortifications. The tower offers a nice view of the river and the cathedral and also houses the naval museum. This was a super win for me because I’m a complete ship nerd and C very kindly consented to enthusiastically inspect old maps and model ships. Key things we learned are that naval uniforms have improved dramatically (“those knickerbockers and stockings are just ridiculous!” exclaimed C) and that a bloody enormous ship can travel through the huge ocean with nothing but a pair of puny propellers and a flimsy looking rudder.
Among the stuffy portraits of long-dead generals were some other curiosities, such as a dried shark skin, the rostrum of a sawfish and the mandible of a whale. The tower & museum costs 3Euro and all information is in Spanish.
A place that we would have liked to visit was the Archive of the Indies. This beautiful building houses all the documentation of Spain’s colonial interests in the Americas and Philippines, some 9 kilometres and 80 million pages of documents. We were thwarted in our endeavour to visit, however, because there’s security screening in place and I was carrying my pocket knife. Which reminds me of the time I went to the Hungarian embassy in Vienna with a knife and they laughed at me because it wasn’t a gun. But that’s another story.
We quickly visited the Royal Tobacco Factory, famous for being the place where Carmen works, in Bizet’s opera of the same name. It’s now a university and it’s worth a quiet stroll through its corridors.
We had an unexpected highlight when we saw this guy:
Not only is Luis Daoíz y Torres a superb Freddy Mercury impersonator, he was also an important figure in the Dos De Mayo uprising against the French. Rarely have I ever seen a more enthusiastic-looking statue. The roof of the Palace of San Telmo is home to 11 more statues of Seville’s most famous historical characters, including Velazquez, a man of brilliant artistic talent and sensational hair.
It’s the late afternoon now, and we’re inside enjoying the coolness and quiet of siesta and the sweet, sweet taste of 29 cent beer. Soon we’ll head out for a few small plates of delicious tapas and possibly – just possibly – another cool glass of beer or two. And I know that I’m looking forward to being woken up again, tomorrow morning, by the sound of wheels on the cobblestones in Seville.