Disclaimer: I wrote these Seville posts last summer, but they have been posted in May 2019, when I finally built this website. The posts have been backdated to when they were written. Please forgive their “dear diary,” amateurish style, but I would feel dishonest editing them at this point, as I wrote them in real time during the trip.
Today was an even slower start to the day than usual! (I should stop saying that, since every day here seems to be a slow start.) The good news is that most shops in Seville are open from about 10am to 1:30pm, and then close for siesta, and reopen around 5:30 or so until about 8pm, so our late sleeping doesn’t seem to affect our ability to make the most of the day, especially as most of the city is up until very late at night.
I’ve enjoyed laying in bed with the tightly closed shutters acting as blackout curtains and listening to the activity of the street below. The bells begin to ring early, around 7am, and then put on a real show at 9am. You can hear the shops on the street level open, and listen to neighbors greet each other while restaurants put out their tables and chairs for breakfast.
There is one sound around 10am that I have yet to figure out. A man walks up and down all the streets shouting, but almost singing, a phrase. The way the sound echos from streets away reminds me of a medieval town crier, and in fact the town crier idea makes more sense after listening to this guy every morning. I’m impressed by how well the sound carries. I still don’t know what the man is saying, but this morning I was able to get out of bed and record him making his pronouncement down our street, Calle Franco.
I’m not sure what I expected to see, but I was surprised to find that he was pushing a large cart in front of him that had a variety of smaller sized carts inside. A cart of carts. What is it that he could be shouting to everyone first thing every morning that relates to a cart of carts?
Anyway, we planned to go shopping today, possibly for shoes as the shoes here seem more narrow than back in the states, but I definitely wanted to go to the antique bookstore. We finally got out of the house and began walking towards the bookstore. We stopped at a lunch shop, where we got pan y jamon (a ham sandwich) and a drink, and ate while we walked past the shops.
We were surprised to find that we had wandered into the plaza that had the mushroom structure, which is a large architectural building. It’s called the Metropol Parasol, and is designed to be six large mushroom-like structures connected together. It was interesting, but nothing to write home about (though I suppose in a way I am writing home about it right now).
We made out way to the antique bookstore and I was in heaven. The front portion of the shop was all antiques and the back room was all books. I was looking for something that would be memorable to take home. Despite not speaking any English, and myself not speaking any Spanish, the shop owner very kindly helped me find books and information that I was interested in, though ultimately they didn’t have any books on the subjects I was looking for: Spanish exploration it the New World, or La Florida, or even just older books on US History from a Spanish perspective. I ended up with a really neat book on Spanish paleography, an opera book for Andrew, and a book titled Del Amore that I will put out for display. The books aren’t that old (1800s and early 1900s), but they’re very nicely bound and reasonably priced.
The best part about the antique shop were the very, very old books that were hand bound and in vellum from the early 1600s. They were about €200, however, and while that’s a good price compared to online, I didn’t want to spend that much while I was out of town. We left the bookshop and ate lunch and headed back towards our place.
We hadn’t seen many of the popular Seville sights so far, so we went inside the Cathedral. We only had about an hour in there (we left when people were being kicked out), but that worked out perfectly as we needed to return to our room to get ready for the afternoon’s photo shoot. I honestly have no words to describe this Cathedral. It’s the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, so when you think of a massive Cathedral, think bigger.
The interior was unreal. They had four complete organs! There were so many chapels with beautiful artwork. The ceiling was amazing. I kept remembering back from my days of studying Romanesque art and architecture that the Cathedrals were designed to make peasants feel small in the presence of God and to overwhelm them with riches to show both the power of God and the power of the Church. On paper, I knew this was the case, but in person, even in a world with the internet and cures for certain cancers, I was completely overwhelmed. Several times I almost cried.
Christopher Columbus, as a side note, supposedly is buried there. Both Seville and Santo Domingo claim his remains, but whether he was buried there or not, his tomb is certainly the most impressive I have ever seen. I’m not much of a fan, so seeing him dead was okay with me. Grace wasn’t allowed to go because she kept saying she only wanted to go so she could spit on his grave. My reaction wasn’t as visceral, but still, it was an interesting experience.
We left the Cathedral and headed back to the room. When we were ready, we took a taxi to Plaza de España to meet with Carmen, Spencer, and the kids and our photographer, Carlos. He was incredibly nice and we had an excellent time walking the plaza and having our photographs taken. We were all a little nervous at first and felt self-conscious, but by the end of the hour, after strolling around and walking, we were completely at ease. I even got a picture with the famous green bag! The green bag was just a joke because I had this bright green bag with me, so Carlos carried it so it wouldn’t be in all the photos. We ended the photoshoot at Parque de Maria Louisa, and after Carlos left us, we all strolled around together before parting ways for the kids to eat dinner.
Later that night, we met back up with Carmen and Spencer at Duo Tapas. They were having a farewell dinner for a researcher from Germany that was working with Spencer, and there were several other researchers there. We had a good time and ended the evening with drinks near Carmen and Spencer’s apartment. I feel so comfortable with researchers. It makes me miss having the opportunity to research more, but I think when I get back home I will jump back into the subjects I’m interested in.