Today we left Portugal for a few days to do some exploring in nearby Spain. Spain is only just over 60 kms from Vilamoura. We left at about 11am after having a leisurely breakfast and doing some quick packing. We were heading to Seville for the next few days. Seville is only just over 200 kms away and it is pretty much motorway the whole way. You cross the Rio Guadiana which is the boundary between Portugal and Spain. No border post anymore. Only sign that you are in a different country is that the roads changed (the Spanish motorway was in much better condition) and the biggest noticeable difference are the road signs. Portugal road signs aren’t particularly good. Spanish ones are better. But as Stephen said, South African road signs are better. While I am on about things SA does better, another one is traffic lights. Why is that both Portugal and Spain only have traffic lights on the near side of the road. If you are the first car at a red traffic can you possibly see when it turns green? They have a little light at the bottom of the pole but even to see that you have to crane your neck. Why not simply have the traffic lights on the other side of the intersection like we do in SA? Seriously, some one needs to point this out to the Spanish and Portuguese.
We did have to stop and refuel on the way to Seville. As is always the case in Europe, it was self-service. You had to pay before you fill up the car. Another stupid idea. How do you know how much fuel the car needs? I guessed €40 and was lucky that is exactly what it needed. We also went to get some snacks for lunch and fortunately Michael was with me when I was paying because the cashier asked me something in Spanish and I had no idea what she was saying. Michael just replied ‘Si’ and we got a plastic bag.
We found the hotel we are staying at relatively easily thanks to another wonderful invention called the GPS (or SPG as my father-in-law calls it). We are staying at Hotel Becquer (http://www.hotelbecquer.com/). It is in central Seville, just a few minutes walk away from the Old Town and the River Guadalquiver. Only problem is that their car park was full and so we had to park at a nearby shopping mall parking garage. It is a few blocks away from the hotel but as we don’t plan to use the car for the next 2 days it doesn’t really matter much.
We arrived just after 2pm as there is a 1 hour time change from Portugal to Spain. It feels a bit strange driving for 2 hours only and having a 1 hour time change. It was pretty warm when we arrived so we did as the Spanish do – we took an afternoon siesta. That was followed by the mandatory watching of World Cup football and after having watched France eliminate Nigeria we headed for dinner.
It was 8pm and some places were just opening for the evening. The sun was still relatively high in the sky and only set at around 10pm tonight. We walked down to the river and then through a pedestrian zone and then back to the river again where we found a Tapas restaurant on the side of the river to have dinner. Chloe and Michael both have done Spanish at school. I have never been sure that Michael had learnt any Spanish but it seems my school fees haven’t been wasted on him. I am not sure about Chloe as she claims she speaks Spanish but I have yet to see or hear her use it to actually help us. Michael on the other hand did the ordering tonight and did pretty well. For those of you who know me, you know I am not easily impressed but Michael’s Spanish usage did actually impress me. His Spanish teacher would have been proud of him.
The Tapas wasn’t the best I have ever had (unfortunately). Too much of it was deep fried and that isn’t really what we expected. Maybe it was poor ordering but I think it might also have been the quality of the place. Hopefully tomorrow we will find a better restaurant. I also had the unfortunate experience of sitting under a tree full of birds and one of them did it’s business on me (it reminded us of Rome where my father-in-law seemed to be a constant target for the pigeons). We walked back along the other side of the river on the way back to hotel. Everyone was out running, cycling or just walking. It was a lovely evening in the mid 20C’s. Seville is a really beautiful city and we are looking forward to exploring it tomorrow.
Finishing the day off by watching the German v Algeria football match with Spanish commentary. They speak ridiculously quickly. About the only thing I have understood was ‘espectacular Neuer’ – which he has been.
Until tomorrow – P, M (because he used his Spanish so well), H, S, C (because I am yet to hear her use her Spanish)