The morning begins with a walk through the narrow streets of the barrio to the Cathedral and Alcazar. We'd wanted to see the cathedral, but it turns out to be very crowded and for some reason, the 7 euro per person rubbed us both the wrong way, so we satisfy ourselves with admiring it from the outside.
A note here; there are gypsy women who stand outside most tourist destinations with sprigs of rosemary in hand. They approach, offering "for friendship" and then the unsuspecting tourist who accepts, is hit up for a "donation" or runs the risk of having their pocket picked. My mother and I sat on the church steps and watched as one tourist after another stopped and allowed to have their "palm read" and then was suddenly reaching into their purse or wallet to give money. The best course of action is to "just say no".
The Alcazar, the royal palace in Sevilla, is absolutely stunning and much larger than expected once inside the high walls. I found myself wandering around the gardens, overwhelmed with the enormity of the place. It's impossible to get an idea of the scope from the outside. First, we just wound our way through the interior rooms, all empty save for wall decoration and beautiful tiles. I am particularly impressed by a gigantic wall-sized tapestry depicting a map of the Mediterranean around the 16th century. Then, into the gardens we go, with fountains and fish ponds everywhere. I would love to be there someday when all the orange trees are in bloom.
After the Alcazar, we walk toward what turned out to be a nonexistent market listed in my notes (oops! the Tyrant fails again).
Undeterred, we stopped for lunch at El Rinconcillo which is considered to be the birthplace of tapas and the oldest bar in Sevilla (possibly the oldest in Spain?) opened in 1670. It has a stamped tin ceiling, a couple of small dining rooms covered in Spanish tiles, and the ubiquitous sea of cured legs of ham hanging from the ceiling. Ancient bottles of sherry line the wall.
The bartender is very friendly and when I ask about the barrels behind the bar, gives us a taste of what was inside, a fairly harsh "new wine". We both have Puerta Vieja Rioja and tortilla con manchego which turns out to be a freshly made omelet with chunks of melting manchego cheese instead of the traditional, thick wedge of room temperature cooked egg and potato. A little plate of lomo (cured pork loin, thinly sliced) and bread brings us to 11 euro, again the tally written in chalk on the bar. The address is Calle Gerona 40 (though the picture I took says "32" on the sign). The only problem we had was that it was getting hard to stand after walking so much. Very few bars have places to sit and my feet are really starting to hurt.
"It's a vacation, not a death march"
It's 3 PM, and the Travel Tyrant flops on the bed and days "It's a vacation, not a death march" .
My mother laughs and agrees with me. I think I've finally been broken. We've been averaging 6-7 miles of walking per day (mom's wearing the pedometer) and today I am exhausted. I take a catnap at noon, another short nap at 3, and then we go out to the Aire de Sevilla Hamman baths at 4 PM. It is 26 Euro each for 2 hours in the baths including a 15 min massage.
Some notes about the experience; there's no hairdryer. You'll need ask for a towel but big plush bathrobes are provided as well as skid-resistant slippers. Most of the water in the pools is quite tepid except for the very HOT bath and the cold plunge. The massage itself was tepid as well. There are candles and incense everywhere (frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood) and the clientele is mixed men and women, so everyone must wear a bathing suit.
With wet hair, we stop for a little snack at Cava del Europa next to the hotel ( #6 Santa Maria La Blanca), a wine bar with interesting modern tapas. I have a Rioja Crianza Gloriosa from Bodegas Palacio for 2.50 euro. Mom has a Rosado from Marques de Caceras DO Rioja for 1.90. Those are fairly standard prices for a glass of wine here, with the most expensive wine I've seen by the glass around 3.50 or 4 euros. I love a country which has its' priorities straight with reasonable costs for coffee and wine. We ordered crudités son salsa de yogurt y menta (boring) and a really good hummus with crispy bacon and pita. They also sell very reasonably priced bottles, with maybe 50 different bottled wines and 15 by the glass. In addition, they sell bottles para llevar (to go) at about 50-60 % of menu cost (try finding that anywhere in the US).
We ended evening with time in an internet café because the computer at the hotel went down and was hauled away by a tech, right as I went to use it. We have a late dinner/snack across the street from hotel at the "Mezquita" restaurant of fried squid and arroz cordobese (like a soupy paella). It was a bad experience at a Donor Kabob place down the street from the hotel that pushed us to the "Mezquita". We had gone in and ordered a salad and sandwich to go and then were completely ignored for more than 10 minutes while other people came, ordered and were served in front of us. I should also point out that the restaurant was completely empty save for a waiter and a counter cook. Finally, I asked how long it would be for our order and I was told rudely "there are other orders in front of yours". Ummm, where?? At that point, very hungry and irritated, we left. No big loss for the restaurant either as they had not even started our order. What we could not figure out was if we were ignored because we were American, because we were women, or because they just have no concern for their customers.
Day 4 total miles 6.11
View from the bed