Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Saturday in Seville: Cathedral, Alcazar, and more!

Saturday morning I got off to an early start because the two girls I met the night before had a bus to catch at 1 pm and wanted to do the Cathedral and the Alcazar before they left, and I wanted to go with them. We tried to go to the Cathedral first, but the tourist part wasn't open until 11 am because there were services going on. Here's a picture of the front of the Cathedral:

It's hard to tell from this picture, but it's the third-largest cathedral in Europe, after two other large cathedrals that I can't remember anymore. I think one of them is the Vatican. (Is that right?)

So we decided to go to the Alcazar while we were waiting. It was easy, because they're across the street from each other. And luckily for us, it turned out that the Alcazar admission was free for students with ID! The Alcazar is an old Moorish fort with a palace and gardens inside. I sprung for the audioguide by Rick Steves' recommendation, and because the admission had been free, but it turned out that it wasn't as interesting as I had hoped. Here's a picture of my new friends outside the entrance:

Here's the palace inside:

As you can see, the style of architecture is a lot simpler than palaces that I'm used to. The gardens were really pretty, too. Here's a bird coming to land on a lily pad in a pool sort of thing:

We tried to figure out how deep this thing was by sticking some sticks down into it, but it turned out to be deeper than our sticks, which were about a foot long. Also, it had fish in it.

I took a lot of garden pictures, but I won't make you look at all of them. Just one more:

Since the other two girls were in a rush, we didn't spend too much time inside the palace. Just before 11 am, we headed back over to the Cathedral so that they could make sure they had time to go up the tower before they had to leave. An interesting thing about the tower is that it was built so that people could ride up it on horseback. That means that it has ramps to get up instead of stairs, and the ramps are wide enough for a horse. They're also pretty tiring to go up. Once you get to the top of the tower, you get some pretty good views of the city:

That big circular thing in the middle might be the bullring, I'm not sure. After we looked around the tower for a little while, the other two girls had to leave, but I stuck around and looked out a little more, then went down to explore the rest of the Cathedral. There's something that they call a treasury, but looks to me more like a musuem. It has this crown, which is apparently made out of 11,000 precious stones, and the angel in the front is made out of the largest pearl ever:

Also, they have the alleged tomb of Christopher Columbus, carried by four guys that represent Castille and León and two other things. There's also a room with an oval-shaped dome and a courtyard with an orange tree grove.

I decided to try to go back to the hostel a different way than I came, and I ended up walking past the Archivo de los Indias, which I subsequently wandered into, and where I was informed that the exhibit inside was free. It seemed like one of those exhibits that was free because no one would pay to see it, and even so it was short on customers. Still, the price was right, so I went in for a look. It was an exhibit that hinged on a word that I didn't understand. I think it was the name of a group or a place, but when I asked the guard what it meant, his description wasn't illuminating.

I discovered a room with a video going on about the building itself, and it turned out to be pretty interesting (I know because it had English subtitles). It explained that the building had been constructed originally when Seville was a big deal trading port for ships (it's on a river, not the sea). Traders needed a place to conduct their transactions, and thus this building was constructed. Then Seville got surpassed as the important trading port of the area and the traders moved away and the building wasn't used for anything for a while. In fact, people were secretly living in it! But then some guy was looking for the perfect building to store a bunch of paper archives of historical significance, such as letters from Queen Isabel to Columbus. And there it was, ready to be used. So that's what it is now, in addition to having some exhibits.

My next mission after this random musuem was to find a fabric store. I went back to the hostel and the guy at reception called one of his fabric-inclined friends to see if they knew anything that might be open. He gave me one recommendation and suggested I walk along the two main shopping streets if that place was closed. Well, it turned out to be closed, and so was pretty much everything along those two streets. I guess Saturday is a slow day for Sevillanos. Here's one of the streets:

So no fabric. I wandered back towards the Alcazar and bought a few postcards on the way there. I had a plan of sitting in the gardens somewhere and writing my postcards. I also bought some chips. When I got back to the Alcazar for my second free admission of the day, I found a nice place to sit in the garden, started writing my postcards, and dropped a piece of chip. Then this happened:

After a while, approximately a million ants were swarming over that little piece of chip. They had the goal of carrying it over to the wall and then carrying it UP THE WALL. And they were doing it, too! I took a video of the process, and some of you lucky people will get to watch it.

After all that, I was exhausted, so I went back to the hostel to take a much-needed nap. After the nap, I went to another flamenco place I had heard of. It was too early for anything to be going on, but the guy outside told me to come back in about an hour for the show. I was hungry, so that meant it was dinner time. I went to a much less awkward dinner than the night before, consisting of gazpacho and spinach croquetas that I felt too embarrassed to take a picture of. Then I went back to the flamenco place, which is called La Carbonería. Unlike the expensive place the night before, admission to this place was free, and the drinks, including sangria, were cheap. There were fewer performers, only one each of dancer, guitarrist, and singer, but the place was packed and the audience was enthusiastic and the performers were as well. Here's a picture:

I stayed for an hour and a quarter and then went back to the hostel to sleep so that I could get an early start on Sunday before catching my early afternoon flight. That night was the fateful snorer-poking chin-bumping-on-the-ladder night. I still have a little bruise and a scratch. And she barely stopped snoring when I poked her! That strategy works better on my dad.

The Seville chronicles will conclude tomorrow, and then I'll catch up on this week. It's been busy with work and avoiding returning a library book by its due date. I know, I'm a bad person. I just need a couple extra days!


  1. It looks like your trip to Seville was amazing!! Quite a lot of stuff to do in one weekend!

  2. Hi Babe,

    That was a very fun post to read. Sounds like an amazing time, I'm glad it was so much fun. Maybe I can meet your new friends when you get back to Boston (next week!).

    It was funny when you said the architecture is not like the palaces you are used to...I didn't know you had so much experience with palaces! Also, the I can't wait to see the ant video.


  3. I agree with Sam's comments about palaces and ants, and I'm also excited for your return to Boston! Tonight is stir fry night. :D