One Saturday, we walked into the Plaza Nueva, Sevilla Spain. On one side a basketball tournament, on the other wedding parties lining up to attend the civil ceremony in the city hall that formed on side of the square. The music, oddly, a piper, a busker, playing Scottish airs interrupted occasionally by “Here comes the Bride.”
The plaza in Spain, like the piazza in Italy, is the centre of civic life. It is our loss that we have nothing like it.
Giralda in Sevilla
After three days in Madrid, we took the AVE train to Sevilla, very fast, very comfortable but oddly not very accessible, especially for older travels with heavy suitcases. Younger travellers were very kind and helpful, which the train staff were not. City centre to city centre is very convenient though.
Sevilla is a beautiful city, with lovely plazas and a magnificent walk along the Guadalquivir River. We stayed in the barrio Santa Cruz and I was disappointed in our hotel-Petit Palace de Sant Cruz- and uncomfortable in the area. Unless you are a fan of narrow and closed-up streets –no windows, shuttered shops, and what seemed to be unfriendly faces, choose another section of the city. We loved our stay in Venice a couple of years ago and I thought this would be similar, but it wasn’t.
The Cathedral in enormous, but the most beautiful feature was the Giralda-the bell-tower converted from a minaret– that stands beside it. The gardens of the Alcazar, and the lovely tile work within it, the parks and the paseo along the river, the narrow Calle del Agua and the restaurant Corral del Agua–all memorable. After three days we were off on the bus to Ronda.
Our vacation in Spain is drawing closer. Our hotel in Madrid is on Plaza Santa Ana, ringed with cafes, bars and a highly-rated restaurant! The hotel itself is in a converted office building– high ceilings and large windows overlooking the plaza. We hope to visit the Reina Sofia museum of modern art to see Picasso’s Guernica on the first day, if we aren’t too tired after the plane.
So much else to do and see in Madrid that it would likely take three weeks rather than the three days we have there to begin to see it all.
We leave Madrid by the AVE, the fast train to Seville, arriving at yet another hotel in a converted building, this one in Barrio Santa Cruz. We haven’t an plan for Sevilla, although visiting the cathedral, the third largest medieval in the world after St. Peter’s in Rome and St. Paul’s in London, is on the list. We are there for three nights, before meeting Anne and Alan in Ronda.
The trip to Ronda will be an adventure: a bus trip through the Serrano Mountains. The owner of the villa we are renting promised to meet us that day and drive us to her finca(country property). She is also making dinner for us that evening. Visiting Ronda, a fabled town renowned in the nineteenth century for bandits and bullfights, should take at least two days of the seven we will be staying there. After that, visiting the Pueblos Blancos, the white villages, beginning, I think, with Arcos de la Frontera, the furthest from Ronda, situated on the edge of the sherry district. All the villages with frontera in their names were on the frontier, built for defence, high on the hills, the front lines of the battles to retake Spain from the Moors.
I can hardly wait!