Thursday, May 27, 2010

Seville in Bloom

Thursday, May 27

This is our first full day in Seville. We got to sleep in past 7, had an almost leisurely breakfast, then started the morning's activities. A few folks stayed at the hotel, under the weather, or some, like John, "churched out," or someone else who was "burned out on cathedrals," or Taylor, waiting successfully for his cell phone to be shipped from Costa del Sol, where he didn't pack very well.

We're staying in the city center, the old city. We had a short walk through the Murillo Gardens to the bus. Impressive, lush--American magnolia trees, one still in bloom, but with corded trunks some 10 foot thick, pink and white azaleas reaching 8 or 9 foot tall, lantennas growing as a woody perennial, not as a quick summer flower in Missouri, and trees whose name I didn't catch, full of crayon blue-purple blooms hanging down like clusters of paper lanterns. Other trees from Asia, eucalyptus from Australia, white doves released by Argentines in 1929--now both a nuisance and a spectacle. Not a native landscape, but rich. We are in Oz.

Our bus took us past various pavilions built for a 1929 Spanish cultural exhibition, which I think didn't quite take place because of hard economic times. Glad we're past that kind of chaos. The Peruvian pavilion catches the eye with its mahagony balcony, a white dove perched on it as we passed. The American pavilion had once been our consulate here. The Colombian is topped with a stone-sculpted pomegranate, split open to show its red seeds. (And pomegranate = granada in Spanish, I think I heard). But the Spanish pavilion was, obviously, the most elaborate--an impressive facade surrounding a large open circle, stone pillars, four ceramic bridges into the center, and 48 ceramic benches, each representing a Spanish state, with its history and contributions set in mosaic--with the addition of the not-actual, but necessary extra that features Don Quixote.

And of course, the open area filled with gypsies, some selling fans and shawls and trinkets, others agressivesly pushing sprigs of rosemary at everyone, "free," but requiring then a donation.

Back on the bus, we returned to the center, and toured the Alcazar, a Moorish influenced building that echoed the Alhambra, and served as a palace for various dynasties since the 14th C. I was most impressed with the Ambassador's Room, where the King received Columbus on one of his returns.

Others can write more details about this palace. I did stay and snap pics of sections of the enormous tapestries near the exit--enormous, hmm, 30 by 50 foot each? Full of scenes of struggle, travel, conquest--and a dog.

The rest of our morning we spent at the Cathedral of Seville, the 3rd largest in the world. Rich, elegant, but being just a bit "churched out" myself, I most enjoyed the tomb of Columbus--bronze statues of 4 soldiers bearing the body, over the marble tomb itself. There is some dispute whether Columbus rests here, or in the Dominican Republic. Our guide said that DNA tests prove that there is at least 150 grams of Columbus himself here.

Several left from there to go visit the semi-traditional Arabic baths, the hamman. "Semi" because these are not sex-segregated, and are not in the nude. Swimsuits and massage. A few of the guys instead went to a military surplus store, and others are off to an old bullring, now a museum.

And I'm about to go look for an expresso.

bob in Seville
0 Responses

Post a Comment

Subscribe to our feed