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Saturday, 2 June 2012

The Sevilla Summer Breeze

Good evening people!

It's absolutely lovely here in Sevilla.

I think some higher being must have read the ranting in my blog post last night because the weather here today has been SO much more bearable. There has been a nice breeze all day and even during the hottest parts of the day me and Sam have actually been able to cope. We're on the rooftop again at the moment and it's still warm enough to wear just a t-shirt and shorts, but it's no way near as stuffy as it was last night. THANK FUCK.

Here is our rooftop:

And here's the link if you want to make this shit INTERACTIVE!!!

We've had a very relaxed approach to things today, but that hasn't stopped us from having a good time and seeing a lot of the city. We've probably enjoyed today more than some days where we've done loads of things non-stop because we've had the chance to rest, and this has really helped us to appreciate everything.

Tomorrow we're off to Granada where we will be spending the rest of the day and the following day. We're looking forward to it and we think we've definitely experienced enough of Sevilla, so let's just hope the weather's good and it should be great. And if we can go on the rooftop of our next hostel too... I will be very very happy.

And for those who are concerned (although I don't know why you would be) Sam's feeling much better now. We think it was mainly the heat that was making him unwell, but as I said it's been much better today.

So I'll get on now and tell you about what we've been doing.


Sam woke up at 8am but understood that I really needed my sleep (I was effectively dead last night when I was still writing the blog at fucking 4.15am), so he let me sleep in until 11am. I'm very glad he did; that was a really good sleep and I've been much more awake today.

We checked our internet stuff, showered and got ready to go out. We decided yesterday that the first place we were going to visit was the cathedral - that way we would avoid the deadly midday sun as we would be largely indoors. So we headed in the general direction of the cathedral, but at the same time we were looking for somewhere to get food because we were starving.

We saw a board outside of a café which said that you could get coffee, orange juice, toast, bacon, fried egg and a sausage for 6 euros. To me this sounded perfect, but Sam, being the fatty that he is, wanted more. I said that it would be unlikely that we would find another place as good as this, and eventually I convinced him enough to go in.

It was about 1.20pm at this point (we had a very slow start to the day) so it clearly wasn't the normal time you would have breakfast, whatever country you're in. So when I spoke to the woman at the bar, I asked in Spanish if they were still serving breakfass, and she said that although it was not the normal time she could still manage it.

I ordered one of the breakfasts on the board for me, but Sam made things really awkward when he asked me to ask the woman if he could have extra bacon/sausage/egg. I got the message across, and the woman said that it was basically three of those breakfasts then, seeing as Sam wanted one extra of everything. I said yeah, and we went back to our table.

It was then we realised that we might actually be charged for three whole breakfasts (which added up to 18 euros for our BREAKFAST - what the fuck?) despite only having extra food, not three glasses of orange juice and three cups of coffee. But we decided we'd just wait until our food came out and sort things out after.

The food was very good, but the woman at the bar was chatting and seemed to forget Sam's coffee, which Sam obviously wasn't very impressed with. I reminded her and she was just like 'Sí', as if I'd just ordered another one. This was more than a little concerning!

Once we'd finished, I asked if we could pay, praying that it wouldn't be 18 euros. In the end, thank God, it was only 14,50 euros, and she told me what she did - she charged us for two breakfasts and then Sam's extra food was charged as one round of tapas, which in the end was a pretty clever idea. I'd rehearsed a sentence to say in my head before asking to pay just incase she did try to charge us for three breakfasts, but I'm glad I didn't have to use it - things might have gotten messy!!!

So after this we headed off to the cathedral. We remember the route roughly from yesterday (the cathedral is right next to the Alcazar) so we didn't actually get lost for once.

We saw on the door that it was 8 euros for adults, but luckily for students it was only 3 euros and we had our student ID with us, so it was certainly worth it.

We asked for two tickets and said that we were students, handing the woman selling them our student ID. I have an International Student ID card, and so does Sam, but his is out of date (this stopped Sam from getting into the Alcazar yesterday as a student -  we had to pay the adult fare), so he had his university ID card with him today which we used.

The woman said that my ID was fine, however she asked Sam for more ID (probably because it wasn't an internationally-recognised student card). We didn't have our passports with us, so Sam showed her his credit card, but she still didn't accept it.

Sam then spontaneuosly decided to display every single type of card he had in his wallet - his out-of-date student card, probably his fucking Nando's reward card - in the end it was his Young Person's Railcard that did it. What the fuck?! I still don't think we know why she accepted that over other stuff but we weren't complaining.

The cathedral was another astounding work of art. It wasn't as decorative or unique as the one in Córdoba, but the aspects of it that were special were REALLY special.

Let's do another photo tour shall we?

Outside the cathedral:

There were four amazing statues, the detail is incredible:

A stained glass window:

Incredibly detailed wood carving:

A HUGE organ:

The ceiling detail:

We then entered a cloister-type area. This is what we saw:

An incredibly intricate and beautiful room:

In the treasure (bling) room:

Another very ornate room:

This contains the remains of important people!!!

Treasure box:

Amazing ceiling:

A clock:

An interesting artefact on the altar:

A curvy room:

So that was the cathedral in pictures!

I think it's very hard to get a sense of scale in photos of these types of places. You do really have to be there to experience it, but at least you can get a sense of what it was like.

We needed nourishment again after this (walking around these kinds of places can be REALLY tiring) so we chose to go to a nearby Starbucks which we went in briefly yesterday. In hindsight (and considering we spent 15 euros) this was probably a bad idea as we could have gotten more food and drink for less somewhere else, but we wanted something quite small and very tasty, so this seemed to fit the bill. I had a piece of carrot cake (my favourite) and Sam had some raspberry cheesecake - both contain fruit/vegetables in some form so all is good.

Our next move was to walk to the Plaza de España, which was just up the road. We weren't really sure what it was (LOL) but the tiny 1cm picture on our map looked good, and I'd heard good things about it on the internet, so that's where we headed.

It is located in the middle of a park. Here are some photos we took on the way there:

But as soon as we got there, we knew we had made a good decision.

We really didn't expect something this grand. Sam was in architectural heaven and I really appreciated the appearance of the place. Here are the first bits we saw of the Plaza:

Notice the decorative patterns on all the railings. I was really impressed with this; it was quite a simple way to improve the place but it made a massive difference. It also linked with the decorative nature of Islamic culture which is common throughout southern Spain. Even in the cathedral, which was much more Catholic than the one in Córdoba, still had Islamic patterns dotted around and incorporated into the design. This is the kind of cultural feature that we want to pick up on when we visit places so that we can really get a feel for them.

Both before and when we first got there, we didn't actually know what the place was for; what it was based around. It wasn't a palace for some important rich person, it wasn't a place of worship, and it wasn't a museum or gallery.

We only realised when we started walking around it. This is what we noticed:

Each of the main cities/towns in Spain hat its own dedicated area, with a map and an image relating to the culture/history of the place. This continued all the way around the plaza, hence why it is called the 'Plaza de España'.

Within the building of the plaza were random places such as a military museum and a social services area (these were closed). So when they are open, these places are linked with Spain as a whole country (as they are public services relating to the citizens), which links in with this 'uniting of all regions of Spain' theme. I thought that this was clever and was both spectacular and practical, making a really good use of the space.

And generally it was a really nice place to look around! Here is a selection of pictures we took:

After having a rest by the water for 10 minutes, we decided to head back to the hostel. We were hoping to find the supermarket we went to yesterday to get some food for 'dinner' too.

But we got lost. Really bad.

I swear this place is designed for people to get lost; it's like a fucking maze.

And it didn't help that the map we were using was absolute fucking shit! Seriously! The top of the map isn't even north (fuck knows why), and the names of the streets are printed really small in awkward positions, so it's almost impossible to find where you are or where you are going. Not only that, but the map ripped into two pieces because we'd used it so much (even though it was utter SHIT and gave us more problems rather than less), and it split pretty much exactly where the hostel is, forcing us to fumble around trying to fit the two halves together while wandering aimlessly down the streets.

We probably spent an extra 20 or 30 minutes than necessary, but never mind.

Here are some random things we saw on the way back to the hostel:

A theatre!!

An interesting tree:

The best grafitti ever!!!

We got back, but didn't find the supermarket. Sam was pretty exhausted, but I was in the mood to do a little bit more, so I said that I'd find the supermarket and also do a bit of exploring while he had a rest. I looked up the road the supermarket was on before I left - not like it would help given that the map was so shit - so I decided that I would mainly just go down random streets in the direction that I thought the supermarket was in.

While wandering I found a small art gallery, so I took a look inside.

I really enjoyed it. It was all stuff by local artists, and it was good that I knew enough Spanish to understand the titles of the artwork because it was all pretty abstract. I loved it though, and I liked the styles they used.

Upstairs in the gallery I saw a load of random abstract paintings in one room, but none of them had titles so I found it hard to interpret them. I was about to leave when I saw a sign on the entrance of the door saying 'La vida de una artista' - 'The life of an artist'. I went back in and I saw the art in a completely different light, and it was incredible - each different paiting represented the conflicting aspects of artist's lives; it was brilliant.

After this I decided to try and actively find the supermarket because I wasn't sure what time it closed. I found it eventually, and bought a french stick, 4 greek yoghurts, 2 apples, 2 pears and some high-fibre cookies, all for 4,55 euros!!! Much better prices than in England!

To my surprise, I found my way back to the hostel without taking any wrong turns. I actually remembered some of the streets (typical, just as we're about to leave!), so I was pretty satisfied with myself. Yeah that's right Sevilla town planners, I foiled your stupid trap.

This is the point where you realise that you've found the hostel:

Our road is called 'Sanclemente'. Honestly, you do not know the sense of relief you feel when you see this!

So that more or less brings you to where we are now. Me and Sam ate all of the yoghurts earlier (no sense of guilt whatsoever, they were LUSH), ate all of the French stick, and I've had a pear and some cookies... well I need the energy to write this blog post, right?!

I'm on the roof all by myself now, Sam went to bed a little while ago. I love it so much up here. Just listen to the right type of music as well and it is magical and heartbreaking. Here are a few of the songs I've been listening to:

Summertime - My Chemical Romance:
Delilah - The Dresden Dolls:
Tajabone - Ismael Lo:
The Story So Far - Flogging Molly:
Vanilla Twilight - Owl City:
1000 Miles - Vanessa Carlton:
Last Night on Earth - Green Day:

I'm never gonna forget doing this.


As a final note, I'd just like to say thank you to all of you who have been reading this blog because it has now reached 1000 pageviews and counting!! You cannot see all the statistics, but when I log on to Blogger I can see the number of page views in the last day, week, month and all time, as well as the countries where these views have been made, and some other stuff.

I currently have pageviews from the UK, the USA, Spain, Italy, Germany, Slovakia, Russia, Finland, Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, and the Phillipines!!!!!!!!!!

This is amazing and I really appreciate it. I wondered before we left what kind of audience it would get, and I certainly didn't expect this. It really makes me feel good about myself, so thank you.

I hope you've been enjoying it too; I really want to share this experience with all of you and thanks to the internet, it is possible. So let's keep it up.

And all of you people viewing from outside the UK who don't know me, tell me who you are and what you think in the comments! I'd be interested to know.

Ok, so I better head off to bed now. I'm gonna miss this rooftop (I never thought I'd say that sentence). The next post is from Granada, our train leaves at 11-ish tomorrow morning.

So we'll see you there! Adiós!

Jack - 02/06/12 - 03:48

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