Siesta Sunshine in Seville via Cadiz

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October 28th 2015
Published: October 29th 2015
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The Captain announced the night before that we would be passing Gibraltar around midnight. We would begin the passage around 11:30 PM; so, that’s what I set our alarm for so that we could see “The Rock”. Sharon didn’t hear my phone alarm; but, I did and went to see a shoreline full of pin lights adorning the shoreline. Through the darkness we could also see the outline of Gibraltar. Sharon mused from her sleep, “What’s up?” I told her that we were passing Gibraltar and she sprang to life, grabbed the camera and we both viewed Gibraltar from our starboard balcony blessed berth in our pajamas. It’s kind of nice that it worked out that way. Sharon took some pictures; but, feared that there wasn’t enough light to see anything but darkness in the picture. We went back to sleep and awoke again when my second alarm to get up for the tour sounded. We went up to the Lido, again, for breakfast… what is this, five port days in a row? I had the muesli and croissant, again. Sharon had the waffles, again. We need a sea day; but, that will need to wait until tomorrow. We just don’t need another tour guide like yesterday. I spotted Jim walking towards me in the Lido and let him know that we may not make it back in time for Team Trivia after our 8 hour trip to Seville today.

We were assigned to Bus Number 2 on the tour to “Stunning Seville”. This involves a 90 minute bus ride from the port in Cadiz. We started out over a new bridge that’s been opened just 4 weeks. Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians some 3,000 years earlier, the way so many of the portside communities were. The Phoenicians would find promising anchorages, setup an agent to trade with the local denizens, and move on, creating a vast trading empire to propel their prosperity. The bus trip to Seville was fairly uneventful; except, for getting jabbed in the ribs a couple times by someone who thought I should be observing rather than listening to the non-stop running commentary by today’s guide, a male tour guide for a change, and one with what I can only say was a “radio-quality” voice, that resonated deeply from speaking through his whole diaphragm and projecting clearly enunciated, all-be-them rapidly delivered words. He was clearly speaking English and not trying to translate on the fly as some of our previous guides (including yesterday’s) seemed to do.

Today’s narrow alley walkways thru the Jewish Quarter are about the narrowest that we’ve encountered anywhere. It’s the first time I had the sensation that the walls were closing in on us; but, the good thing is we didn’t need to worry about a car trying to run us over on these streets. Now, the occasional bicycle… that was a problem still. We stopped at a corner tourist souvenir shop for a restroom break, and it took a while because there was just one WC. Normally there would be several available to us; but, the cafés nearby were not yet open this early. I heard some singing, a man’s voice resonating through the caverns of the three story buildings, saying I know not what but in a distinctive repetitive harmony. As he came around the corner I saw the three wheeled cycle cart contraption he was wheeling with several pipe like tubes, what must be a plumber’s snake and a small horsepower motor. I’m just guessing this is how he makes his living as a plumber, just as the ice cream man used to go through neighborhoods in the states drumming up business with the music from his truck. Here the plumbers seem to sing to announce their availability. I’ve heard of chimney sweeps doing this in London… back in the day. That day seems to be here and now in Seville. The WC break seemed to drag on for thirty minutes. Across the narrow way a herbalist had various concoctions for teas and potions… one for losing weight… the only sign with any English on it announced that that particular herb would allow you to “Lose Weight Fast”. When Sharon came out of the WC she asked what that strange odor was, and I said that it might be the very aromatic herbs on the corner. I pointed out the “Rooibos Canabis” to her, and a woman near us was saying to another what a great tea that one makes. Sharon just said “Is that legal here too?” There were a bunch of “Rooibos” this-or-that, and it sure looked like chopped up roots (and not leaves). The lot was quite aromatic.

We walked to the palace of Ferdinand and Isabella; where, they had met Columbus after he returned from his second journey. His exploits spawned the “Golden Age” of Spain and Portugal that lasted into the seventeenth century. The multi-courtyard building had two-story tall halls, adorned with fancy and ornate wall treatments of intricately carved surfaces; and, these were original although the paint and gold-leaf were 19th century restorations. The floors in the palace were intentionally uneven, often requiring you to step up or down when leaving a room, or sometimes to step onto the main interior surface of a room. This was to force visitors to keep their heads bowed down in the presence of royalty. The palace also had a quaint but small garden and some fountains and water features, one which flowed a steady stream of water from the roof into a large standing pool. Giant carp-like fish swam in the waters.

We had tickets for the cathedral at 11:30 AM and we made our way to the cathedral, seeing a long line of people who had just begun entering after the morning services which were 45 mins later than normal this morning. The cathedral extended to the far end of the cathedral; and, then down the next side. We got in line, and there we stood. Sharon said that she saw them letting people enter, and that the line should start moving soon; but, it didn’t. I spotted a gelateria down a side street and told her I’d bring her back a cup of gelato. It seemed to take forever to attract someone to serve me, and when I did, I turned to see that the line was moving quickly along the cathedral wall. I got Sharon a cup of dark chocolate and coffee ice cream and I got myself pistachio and vanilla with chocolate chunks. The pistachio had pools of green pistachio flavoring streaked through it. As it turned out, the line had only advanced about thirty feet and stopped again. The ice cream was very good, and those Sharon was talking too wondered where there’s was. A few people behind us did go and get some ice cream also, and it seemed to make the time pass quicker.

If you ever wondered what Spain did with all of the treasures returned to Spain, you only need to look at the Cathedral in Seville. The massive halls of the cathedral truly reached towards the heavens. And everywhere that you looked you would see gold overlaying gold in spades. There were two massive organs, many alcoves and side chapels. Columbus’s son is buried here and 270 grams of Columbus’ remains are also here, something that has recently been confirmed by DNA testing. Columbus in fact was buried in many places from Cuba to Hispaniola, to Seville where his remains from the New World, or at least 270 grams of those remains, and interred in a tomb in this cathedral which features four robust men hoisting a casket. There aren’t many cathedrals that can hold a candle to St. Peters in the Vatican on the impressive scale… this one is right up there though.

We went to the Macarena Hotel for a buffet lunch. I was hoping perhaps for sangria; alas, not today. There was a bottle of rose and a bottle of red on each table. Both were quite dry and without much body. Service through the buffet was slow. There was a thin potato cream soup, some meats, some cold cuts, some cheese and some salads. This seemed more a “feed the tourists quick” type of meal and wasn’t billed as anything native or special to Spain or even Seville.

After lunch we visited the Spanish Square. Countries from around the world built special buildings along the main exposition boulevard for the World Exposition held in Seville in the 1928-29 time frame. Today many of these buildings have been repurposed into various government uses, such as the one that oversees the Gardens of Seville. The Spanish Square is framed by a circular rim of a massive building that surrounds the “square” by about 270-degrees. There is an interior circular waterway in the square. And inside that horse drawn carriages take guests around in a circle. Sharon urged me to go out near the center and take a panoramic picture with my phone, which I did. I went over a foot bridge to get to the center section where the horse carriages were carrying guests.

We pulled up to the ship right at 4:30 PM, just as Team Trivia was scheduled to begin. I rushed up the Crow’s Nest in time for Question #12, and our team was debating where the 2000 Olympics were held. Finally I thought, an Olympic question that I should be able to answer, and without thinking I blurted out Athens. I instantly corrected my and assured them that it was Sydney. Lucia had already written down “Sydney” and I think she was just letting the men duke it out. The next question was “Who was the first democratically elected president of Russia?” Jim knew that it was Boris Yeltsin. There have been a lot of Columbus questions on this cruise, and today was no exception: “What was Columbus’s flagship when he first came to the New World?” The Santa Maria (the one that didn’t make it back home again). We all pondered who the TV star was that drew 500,000 to see him sing at the Berlin Wall. Somehow Jim correctly came up with Hasselhof. I did know what country on the equator is the only such country to also have a glacier. It is Ecuador. And Jim knew what airline started out as a crop duster for bow weevils: Delta! We couldn’t come up with the business whose slogan is “Omnia Omnibus Ubique” or “All things, for all People, Everywhere.” The answer is Harrods. Mike came up with a gimme bonus question: “What is the atomic number of Hydrogen?” It is of course one.

For dinner I had the feta and tomato with spinach quiche; then, the shitake onion soup, and then the halibut with aioli. The soup looked an awful lot like their French onion soup; except, for the mushrooms. Sharon had her standard everyday special meal chicken; but, this time it came without the baked potato. I had the chocolate cake and mousse with rum sauce. The rum scared Sharon away after the run in with the rum raisin ice cream the other day. She had to have a special meal dessert of a vanilla sundae and fudge.

We watched the HAL performers do their “In Concert” ensemble. We enjoyed the music, and recognized most of the tunes.

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31st October 2015

Have a Happy Halloween!

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