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Published: June 13th 2017
Tauck group tour photo
Steps near the entrance to Hotel Alfonso XIII
Geo: 37.3833, -5.9965The Spaniards
Sunday, October 2, 2016
Seville has stolen my heart. It's charming, romantic and gorgeous. There is so much to see and it's all lovely.
We began the day with a group photo of the Tauck tour participants on the steps of the hotel. And we followed that with a walking tour of the formerly walled city. We headed to Real Alcázar of Seville, the royal palace created by Moorish Muslim kings. The upper levels are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence. Another UNESCO World Heritage Site. The gardens are extensive – the walled-in area belies its size from the outside.
When we left the gates of the palace, we wandered through a maze of lanes that you could easily get lost in. We stopped in the Jardines de Murillo and hugged a tree … a humongous fig tree hundreds of years old.
We boarded our coaches and enjoyed a “drive by” tour of Seville's other famous sights … the Tobacco Factory of "Carmen" fame, the consulate buildings, some new controversial commercial sights, an Oceana cruise ship docked on the river, Palace of San Telmo, the seat of the presidency of the Andalucian Government.
Following the tour, we
entered Maria Luisa Park, site of the 1929 Spanish-American Exhibition where we boarded horse-drawn carriages that trotted us around the park. It is just beautiful and so are the many buildings nearby, especially Spanish Square -- all of which were constructed for the 1929 exhibition and have been converted to museums and other public facilities. Many countries constructed buildings for the exhibition and used them as their consulates for many years. Gradually, most were converted to major buildings on the university campus.
The horses delivered us back to the hotel, where we rested a while (siesta) and then went out with Anne to a nearby casual spot, Postigo10. She and I had an incredible seafood paella. I knew I would like it; she hadn't tried it before but loved it too. (Even Barcy loved it as a cold leftover!) We then walked to the Plaza de Toros, where Seville has its bull fights. Not at all interested in seeing an actual fight, but was curious about the pomp and circumstance that go with it. We stopped at Starbucks and I got a Seville mug with a flamenco dancer on it. It just might be the prettiest in my collection.
half the crowd was departing for an early evening Flamenco show, we headed to Mass at Seville's cathedral, Santa Maria de la Sede. The building is the largest Gothic church in the world, and the third largest church over all. Can you guess the two that are bigger?
Construction lasted over a century, from 1401 to 1506. The basilica occupies the site of a 12th century Moorish mosque. Its central nave rises to 170'; with its five naves and 80 side chapels, it covers almost 3 acres. It's mammoth.
Mass was in the Royal Chapel, filled with tombs of Spanish nobles and decorated divinely (excuse the pun). We had planned to tour the rest of the Cathedral but couldn't without a ticket and the ticket office was closed.
Dinner was a gourmet dinner in the Alfonso XIII dining room. Our reservations were at 8 pm but we were told when we got there, they weren't ready to open. We were seated at 8:20 and served dinner at 9:50. It's Spain and that's the way it is, but there was no convincing someone in our crowd. The menu was very large and the offerings appetizing. We ordered two courses; dessert came in
the form of a sampling of 12 different dishes.
A word about the clientele of this hotel. The locals here are very rich and they dress beautifully. We were agog all weekend at the people coming and going from an endless stream of special events, including at least four weddings. The women's dresses were like something you would have seen at Prince William's marriage to Katherine. Exquisite with some wildly exotic hats/fascinators.
Their hair is breathtaking. Long, shiny, thick and dark. Most of those under 30 wear it long and free-flowing, with loose curls. And their faces are just beautiful. They are a sight to behold.
That is, until this evening … when their over-the-top wedding got so boisterous we couldn't hear ourselves think. The music from their reception spilled into the dining room. When we mentioned the service and noise levels to one of the managers, he apologized and said they were all distracted by the noise!
It's not going to tarnish my opinion of Seville, however. It's right up there among my favorite European cities. Ole.
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