Two days in Seville, April 9,10
We have spent three days in Portugal, one in Porto and two in Lisbon, and now it is time for us to return to Spain. Our overall experience in Portugal was very good. Portugal is a very peaceful and friendly country. Most people can understand and speak English unlike in Spain. We spoke to a few people in Portugal and found that they learn English as a second language in school. In Spain, normal people do not make an effort to learn English. Spanish is and International language and if you want to visit Spain, it is up to you to learn a few words of Spanish to be able to get along.
When you step into any shop or restaurant, the first word you hear is "Hola" pronounced as "Ola" . Remember that "h" is silent in Spanish. This is a greeting similar to "Hello" in English and "Allo" in French. Another useful word is "Gracias" which means "Thank you".
On our way to Spain, we stopped in a small Portuguese town and had lunch. Surprisingly, every one we met spoke a little English. We have been using toll ways right through out our trip, to save on travel time. That way, we were avoiding going through big towns and cities. We have spent more money on tolls than on Diesel.
We were planning to spend two days in Seville. We had a booking in Hilton Garden hotel in Seville. Hilton Garden Hotel is a very good hotel, but in a quiet area outside the city centre. We could not see any restaurants in the area. We arrived at the hotel around 4:00PM and still had time to visit a few places.
Seville or Sevilla, the capital of Andalusia, has a rich Moorish heritage, and used to be a prosperous port that carried out trade with the Americas.
The streets and squares in the historic quarter of Seville are lively and busy. Seville is also a prominent business and service centre in the south of Spain and has many hotels distributed all over the city.
We have been planning to see a Flamenco dance in Spain. We knew Seville is the best city to do that.
Flamenco is a form of Spanish folk music and dance from the region of Andalusia in southern Spain. Flamenco is often associated with the gitanos (Romani people of Spain) and a number of famous flamenco artists are of this ethnicity. In recent years flamenco has become popular all over the world and is taught in many countries. In Japan there are more flamenco academies than there are in Spain. On November 16, 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
While checking in, we talked to the receptionist at Hilton Garden hotel. He immediately arranged for us to go for a Flamenco show in the city at 7:00PM. He suggested that we take the Number 12 or Number 3 bus near the hotel which goes right next to the place, where the Flamenco dance is held. After unpacking our bags and relaxing in our room, we walked out of the hotel and started looking for the bus halt. We talked to a lady who was coming out of an office and asked her where the bus station is. Her advice was that we should take a taxi. The neighborhood where we were walking is not safe to walk freely in the night. It looked a very peaceful neighborhood to us. We decided to take her advice seriously and walked back to the hotel and asked them to get a taxi for us.
The Flamenco show was one of the best shows we have seen. Like all cultural events, Flamenco dancing shows are specially held for tourists. What we saw may not be the purest form of Flamenco dance. But there is no doubt the artists who performed are highly skilled and are the best in the business.
After the show, the Flamenco dancers came near the exit point to the hall and waited there. We had a chance to greet them and show our appreciation. Mala took a picture with two of the dancers. We came back to the hotel in a taxi and had dinner in the hotel restaurant.
The next day, we had to decide what we were going to see. There were too many things to see and we had to select the places to visit. Our earlier plan was to visit Cordoba and Gibraltar while in Seville. We knew we would miss Seville attractions if we travel to any of those places. We decided to skip visiting Gibraltar and visit Cordoba on our way to Valencia. We had early morning breakfast in the hotel and first took a taxi to Seville Cathedral. We had to wait in a long queue to buy entrance tickets.
Inside the cathedral, there were many paintings and statues. One important monument is the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
The Alcázar of Seville is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally a Moorish fort. The palace is renowned as one of the most beautiful in Spain, being regarded as one of the most outstanding examples of mudéjar architecture found on the Iberian Peninsula. Still used today by Spain’s Royal family on state occasions, the Alcazar complex of royal palaces, patios and gardens has undergone many transformations over its more than one-thousand-year history. In the 11th century, Muslim Moors constructed a palace on the site of a 10th-century fort, which was converted to a Gothic-style structure in the 13th century. One hundred years later, King Pedro hired Moorish craftsmen to rebuild and expand the palace in the Mudejar style. From the starry design of the domed ceiling in the Salon de Embajadores (Ambassadors’s Hall) to the delicate arches and plasterwork of the Patio de las Doncellas (Patio of Maidens), the Palacio de Don Pedro is considered one of the top tourist attractions in Seville.
All the palaces had garden orchards with fruit trees, horticultural produce and a wide variety of fragrant flowers. The garden-orchards not only supplied food for the palace residents but had the aesthetic function of bringing pleasure.
We finally took a taxi and went to see Plaza de Espana. This massive building is Seville's most impressive after the cathedral, for its sheer scale and grandeur. You shouldn't miss it when visiting the city. Plaza de España was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929 (Expo 29), along with many of the pavilions you can see in and around the Parque Maria Luisa. It is a semi-circular brick building, Renaissance/neo-Moorish in style, with a tower at either end. In front of the building, following the curve of its façade, is a 500-metre canal crossed by four bridges, and in the centre of it all is the Plaza itself. You can rent small boats to row in the canal.
We had dinner in a restaurant outside plaza Espana and finally came back to the hotel to sleep.