Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Seville, Spain day trip

Off to Seville on a bus tour I booked last night. 6:15 am, earliest I have gotten up since we have been here. After I get picked up, we get to do about 3 or 4 more stops in town and then hit the highway. The drive to Seville is all highway. You get to see a million olive tress and about ½ million orange trees. I stopped counting when I reach those numbers. It got way too confusing. Also when we crossed over to Spain there was some large strawberry and tomato fields covered by steel rings and tarps . Otherwise not much else. We picked up 2 more people in Monte Gordo near the Portuguese/Spanish border. This adds a 15 minutes detour from the highway.

Guadiana River that separtes Spain and Portugal

Stork nest

Some of the million olive trees I saw on the drive

We stop for a restroom break and get something to eat for those who did not have breakfast. The bus has 2 doors and they can not re-close the middle door. The bus driver and guide try for a few minutes and no go. All I am thinking is “if they need to send another bus from Albufeira: we will be about 2 hours here in the middle of nowhere`` The bus driver phoned the office and get in contact with a mechanic. They manage to lock the door after trying for about 20 minutes. I was going to suggest duck tape but I was not sure if it is common here in Portugal. Disaster averted, back on the road , more olive trees.

We get to Seville and I decide to do the optional boat tour. It was interesting and I got to hear more about the city in many languages. It is almost like Cuba. First in English, Spanish, French, German I think and maybe more. This river is where Christopher Columbus started his voyage in 1492 to discover the Americas. Seville is also where all the trading with the Americas took place. You got to go under a few bridges with a couple of neat ones. One is in the Guinness world record for being the longest span for a non suspended bridge. In 1992, they held the world expo and you can see some of the buildings from it. There was also a rowing club set up on the river and they were practicing rowing with lanes as you see on TV during the Olympics. The river is not very wide and the river is fairly calm. We also saw a replica of one of the old sailing ships from the 1500 or so but we were not told which one it was.

Building from Expo 92

Rowing club

Back on shore, we land at the golden tower. This is where they stored the gold that came back from the Americas. There was another tower on the other side of the river as well and they had a chain that they could stretch and stop ships from going up or down the river. They probably collected toll taxes.

Golden tower, where gold was stored

The guide now takes us to the center of town. From now on we are on our own. It is now noon and we have until 3:15 before we leave. The Seville Cathedral is one of the largest in the world in volume and as square feet. When the Christians took over the town from the moors in the 1300 they destroyed the mosque because it was in bad shape and build the Cathedral where the mosque was. The only part that was kept was the tower as it was so beautiful. I did not go inside it or any other places that you had to pay as Wendy and I plan to go for a visit on a weekend.


Lots of horse drawn carriages in town, mostly all empty. I guess it is not tourist season in Seville yet but it is busier that Albufeira. Lots of school groups visiting the city.

City hall and carriages waiting for rent

It was now lunchtime and I found a little quite square where I had a glass of sangria and 4 tapas. The square has a small fountain and some nice tiled benches. Nice and relaxing.

I then explored the city. It is full of 3 or 4 story buildings which are well maintained with many of them with wrought iron balconies. Many restaurants, bars, small hotels and small shops. Flamenco dancing is popular in Spain and some of the shops sell dresses.

I run across a church that was celebrating their 400th anniversary. Could only see the outside but it looked beautiful. Not many of those in Canada.

Found the bull ring. It seats 16,000 people, hope I can convince Wendy to go when we come back here, but I doubt it....

Bull ring

Found the tourist information center and got some ideas for when we come back. Also got some good maps of the city.

Meet up with the group and we walked to the bus. Along the way we stopped by an old palace which was converted to the first naval academy in Europe in the 1600s. We also saw the building that was used to store all the tobacco that was brought back from the Americas. It is the second largest building in Spain. The building was built in around 1750 and is 600 by 500 feet. Carmen from the opera Carmen worked here as well. 

First naval college in Europe

Tobaco factory where `Carmen`worked

Seville hosted the architecture Ibero-American exposition of 1929. Countries from the Americas, Spain & Portugal participated. They built many beautiful pavilions. We get on the bus and drove around the area. There is a park that they had planted trees in 1929 and it looks beautiful. Will need to explore it when we come back.

Drive home, more olive trees. Home at 7:30. A bit tired but a great day. Wendy had checked to see what time I would be home and had made a delicious pasta for supper otherwise supper might have been a cheese sandwich.

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