After a late night last night watching the end of the Germany v Algeria game (which went into extra time), we all slept in this morning. We had a continental breakfast on the roof of the hotel with views over the city of Seville. It was already pretty warm at 10am and it was clear it was going to be a hot day.
We walked to the Old Town especially to see the Seville Cathedral and the Real Alcazar which are the top 2 things to experience in Seville. We went into the Cathedral first. €24 for the family – only Chloe was free as she was 14 years old. The ticket office (felt strange having a ticket office in Cathedral but Catholics don’t seem to hesitate to take money from you if given the chance) required proof of Chloe’s age. Either she doesn’t look 14 or I don’t look like I should be trusted (must be the first).
The Cathedral was always believed to be the 3rd biggest in World after St Peters and St Pauls. However, with modern technology they have now determined that it is actually the largest Cathedral in the world by volume. It is seriously big and impressive. They are 22 chapels inside the Cathedral. It was originally a Mosque and was only converted into a Cathedral in 1218. The original Mosque was built in 181. The conversion into a Gothic Cathedral was completed in 1517. It must have cost an absolute fortune to build. I could only think of how many people could have benefited from that money rather than going into a Cathedral of that size and decorations. I could probably post about 50 pictures displaying it’s opulence. It is amazing to see and I am glad they have preserved it but I really do think a lot of money was wasted and could have been better spent.
Besides the Treasury which contains more gold (in the form of vases, plates, relics etc) than I think I have ever seen in one place, the other significant thing in the Cathedral is that Christopher Columbus’ tomb is inside the Cathedral. Columbus (or Chris if he knew him well) wrote in his will that he wanted to be buried in the Americas he had discovered. When he died they moved his remains to Seville as Seville was the port of departure to America. His remains were then taken to the Dominican Republic and when Spain lost control of that they were taken to Havana, Cuba. However, during the Cuban v America war they were moved back to Seville again and into the Cathedral. He might have traveled more dead than when he was alive. The picture is of his tomb held up by the four statues.
After the Cathedral we went to Real Alcazar (not the fake one). I was told by our Spanish authority (Chloe) that Real means Palace in Spanish. It is the oldest Royal Palace that is still in use (by the Spanish Royal family in case you are wondering). It cost us €21 to enter (cheaper than the Cathedral) mainly because both Michael and Chloe were free and Stephen got a reduced student rate. This time they didn’t believe he was a student and so he had to produce his student ID as proof. It was originally a fort and built in the 9th century. Since then, every culture and every civilization that has lived in the Iberian peninsula (and there have been a few) have used the Real Alcazar.
The gardens of the Palace are about 4 times the size of the Palace itself. They are beautifully manicured and maintained and have peacocks wandering around. Peacocks are apparently a symbol of a long lasting dynasty and immortality hence why they are found in the Palace. The Arabic influence is clear in the pools, washing fountains and tiles throughout the Palace. While the buildings are impressive, seeing them straight after the Cathedral resulted in a little bit of old building overload. We enjoyed the gardens of the Palace especially since they were lovely and cool. They even had a maze in the garden (which Helen fancily calls a labyrinth). I would say that a visit to the Real Alcazar is worth it if only to see and experience the gardens.
It was past lunch time when we exited the Palace grounds (it was harder to find the exit of the Palace than it was to find our way out of the maze). We stopped at a sidewalk restaurant and once again relied on Michael and Chloe’s Spanish skills (Chloe used hers this time) to order Paella for lunch. We got one Chicken one and one seafood one. Both were excellent and restored our faith in Spanish cooking. The Paella came with a pitcher of beer (that was the only way to buy it) and so everyone except Chloe drank beer for lunch with the Paella.
After lunch we headed back to the hotel as it was 3pm and the outside temperature was 34c. You can see why a siesta is necessary in Spain and when in Spain do as the Spaniards. All the smaller shops were already shut when we were walking back to the hotel so it definitely is the done thing to have a siesta.
Late afternoon we watched the Swiss defending for 117 minutes before finally conceding a goal. It looked like they were happy to get to a penalty shoot out but that wasn’t to be. We then went out for dinner at 8pm after the game was finished. After wandering around a bit trying to find a suitable place we ended up at a pub where most of us (excluding Helen) had burgers for dinner. Not very Spanish but then we had done the Spanish thing for lunch. Ice Creams to finish off the dinner and back to the hotel to watch Belgium v USA.
Until tomorrow … P, M, C (they both get promoted for their Spanish use today), H & S (all he has done is cost us today, bit of dead weight really)