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April 9th 2012
Published: April 11th 2012
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April 9, 2012- Mondays Are More Fun When You Are On Vacation.  Our morning started earlier than recent days, as we broke our streak. We were up at 8am and out the door with our suitcases packed by 9:30. Our first stop was the El Torno Cookie Shop, where all of the baking is done by cloistered nuns. The Shop is manned by a lay person and we quickly picked out our cookies and found a nearby place to sit and enjoy them. We pondered what it must be like to live a cloistered life  and we decided it would not be so bad if we had such yummy treats at hand...and we figured being cut off from the world would not include dogs so we thought it would be fine.  Then we decided we could all be cloistered for a year, but not our entire life. Our next stop was the bull ring, which is over 200 years old. We signed up for a tour and were not disappointed by our tour guide, Luisa. She took us thru the ring, museum, chapel (where the matadors pray before fighting the bull), and horse stables. This reminded me of Saratoga Race Track back home in New York. We  learned all about the points system and who decides if a matador is good. In Sevilla the President of the Bull Fight alone gets to decide if the matador deserves to win each of the three coveted trophies given out during the approx. 25-minute fight: each of the bull's ears and the big prize--the tail.  The conductor of the ring's orchestra can try to influence his decision by playing certain music when he thinks the matador is doing well but the President can always overrule him.  Amazingly enough only 3 matadors have ever been killed during a fight--not a bad record for a dangerous sport that has been around for centuries. The bulls do not have such a good survival record.   When a bull does kill a matador, he is always killed as is his mother because they believe that is from whence  his evil came. Matadors make good money--sometimes up to $150,000 Euro a fight. Hopefully some of that goes to a good health insurance plan or to steel-lined pants. Amy asked if there have even been any women matadors. Luisa said "only one....but not in Sevilla. Never in Sevilla."  Guess they are traditionalists there. Even though there were moments where we winced imagining all this violence and bloodshed, we all enjoyed the tour. Rick Steves--our virtual tour guide, whom we refer to as Ricardo here,as we carry his travel book on Spain around with us like a life line--recommended a market close to the bull fighting ring, so we headed there. Monday is the slowest day at the market and it was completely empty. We did score some delicious oranges and had a small picnic in the market. (Fruit balances out the cookie breakfast, right?)  Our next activity was a paseo (stroll) thru the shopping district in Sevilla. This area was very interesting, and I encouraged Amy to purchase a Flamenco dress, but she wasn't sure she would be able to rock she passed on it. We did peek into some shoe stores, a traditional mantilla store, and checked out some wedding dresses. Religion was the next course, so we headed directly for Basilica de Macarena. Our Lady of Macarena is the most famous religious icon in this area and not only because a really deep and meaningful song was written using her name (with accompanying dance moves). Once inside we realized that this place of worship was the home to some of the statues we saw in the Semana Santa Processions; we watched as men were dismantling the floats inside the church. Seeing the floats up close was amazing. We were able see exactly how they were carried. As this is a mecca for Catholics, we saw several women weeping, saying the Rosary, and clamoring around the souvenir coin-pressing machine outside. We made a quick stop in the crap (aka Craft Shop) to see if we saw any souvenirs we could not live without and headed to see the Old Town Walls of Sevilla. This was a walled town at one point and this is the only section of the walls that remain. We were all feeling a but peckish (hungry) so we decided to purchase a drink at a local bar and enjoy their table outside under a tree. We munched on our snack pack items and enjoyed the views and the sun.   We hopped in a cab and headed back to the old city to check out a countess's house. Countess de Lebrija married the mayor of Sevilla in the early 1900's. She was a huge collector of Roman mosaics and other antiquities so she restored her house using them. Her house had several courtyards and was very interesting. Right outside her mansion, we continued our shopping stroll back towards our hotel to collect our bags. Amy was so excited for our first train ride in Spain and we arrived at the station an hour early in order to ensure there were no complications. We grabbed a picnic dinner and ate on our train trip to Granada. A quick three hour trip later we arrived. A cheap cab ride and we were at the Hotel Corona, which was bustling with international tourists, to check it and rest our weary eyes. Amy and I sat at the bar for a bit sampling the local Alhambra brand beer and a headache-inducing glass of bottled sangria respectively as we worked on the blog and got caught up on each other's lives.

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