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Friday, 1 June 2012

Sweating in Sevilla

Greetings from Sevilla!

Firstly, I just need to get something off my chest.


Ok. That doesn't make me feel better - I'm still dying here - but at least now you all know.

I am currently on the rooftop of our new hostel, La Montorena, situated in a typically narrow Spanish alleyway. I'm periodically fanning myself with the laminated 'Do not disturb' sign from our room. There is a lovely church behind me and plenty of other rooftops. There are also a few lizards crawling on the walls.

So that sets the scene.

We've been in Spain for a week now. WE'VE SURVIVED!! All on our own! But it doesn't feel like a week; it feels like we've been here a few weeks with the amount we've done. The flight from Gatwick feels like a lifetime ago.

And we're still having an amazing time. I think we've become accustomed to this type of living now, and thinking about life back at home is very strange. We're in the moment now, but I know that when we get back we'll realise what we've done and be like "Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit". It's crazy, but it's working.

We've managed to do quite a lot today. Our feet are hurting and we are both exhausted after walking so much; I'd love to see how far we've walked during the trip so far.

So when reading through what we've done today, please take a moment to consider our legs. They do so much for us; it is their suffering that has allowed us to do what we are today. Without them, we couldn't carry on. Rest in peace.


So we started the day in Córdoba. Our train was at 8.53am, which gave us the luxury of waking up at 7am.

After showering and packing the last of our stuff, we made our way to Córdoba train station. We got there at about 8.20am, which gave us time to get a little bit of breakfast. We split a croissant and an amazing apple pastry between us, Sam had his compulsory coffee, and then we headed to the platform.

The train came and we found our seats with ease. The journey only took about 50 minutes - Córdoba and Sevilla are only 60 miles apart.

Once we got to Sevilla, the first task to book the train tickets to Granada for Saturday. We are so used to this process now that we get it done within 5 minutes. We booked our train at 11.15 or something like that, so that was all good. Then the second task was to find some wifi, preferably in a café, so that we could find our hostel. We didn't have a map (we should have sorted this out before, I know. Us = stupid) so weren't completely sure of the way into the centre of the city, but we did follow some people who did for a little while. It didn't us anywhere.

We found a map at a bus station and saw roughly which direction the centre of town was. While walking in this direction, we must have passed about 7 cafés, but when we asked if they had wifi, all of them said no. What the fuck? We were beginning to wonder if Sevilla was some massive internet blackspot.

Eventually we found a coffee shop on a main road that looked like a chain, so we went inside and thankfully they had wifi. It turned out that our hostel was actually really close, so once Sam finished his coffee we headed there.

The streets here are really confusing. They are all so small and narrow with similar-style buildings, so all of them look the same. Also when looking at them on a map, this makes it very difficult to see the street names. So it took us a little while to find our hostel, but we got there and filled out all the necessary paperwork.

It's a very nice hostel - the building is traditionally decorated, our room and the bathroom are very comfortable and clean and it has this lovely roof area that we're on now. We have a full wifi signal in our room and on the roof, making our lives much easier. The only issue is... OUR ROOM DOESN'T HAVE AIR CONDITIONING.

Well it has the machine to do it, but it costs 8 euros to have it for a day. Surely there must be a law against this in this part of the world?! When it's still 26 degrees at night, how is air conditioning not be compulsory? Look at the blog tomorrow to see how tonight goes, hopefully we'll both be so tired that we don't notice the heat.

So we settled into our rooms and relaxed for a bit, checking our stuff on the internet. We also booked our next accommodation for Granada, which is in fact a bed and breakfast - FULL CONTINENTAL BREAKFAST IS INCLUDED IN THE PRICE!!! AND THE PRICE IS CHEAP!!AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH SO HAPPY.

We then needed a map with the most significant locations marked so that we could plan what we were going to do. So I went down and asked the receptionist for one in Spanish, and he went on to circle all of the main attractions and stuff for me. Cheers for that.

So when I went back up to our room, me and Sam came up with a rough route that we were going to take and places we were going to visit.

There was a slight problem that we had to address before we went around visiting places though: Sam's health. He was getting headaches and stomach aches on and off, so we needed to get some aspirin, and Sam said he wanted something like cold milk to drink to make his stomach feel better. So when we headed out, we first got ice-creams (I suppose you could say this was for medicinal purposes too...), and then when Sam was buying some strawberry drinking yoghurt from a shop, I got some aspirin from a pharmacy. Sorted.

I think it was about 1 o'clock at this point. The sun was beaming down intensely and me and Sam were sweating an awful lot - we had to keep drinking often.

We were trying to get to the river in Sevilla, and using the map, I pointed in a direction and we kept walking in that direction.

That was until we realised that we were going in the WRONG direction.

We must have walked a couple of miles by this point and, just to emphasise the point, we were FUCKING BOILING.

Luckily, we realised that Sevilla has a tube system. We happened to stop near one of the stations, and to save ourselves from melting in the sun, we decided we'd use this to get when we wanted.

After consulting the map (correctly this time), we got on the tube for three stops and got off at Puerta de Jerez, which was right next to the river.

That said, it still look us about 15 minutes to actually find the river. We took the wrong route AGAIN and ended up in some strange alleyways. But eventually we found it and the first place we wanted to visit: the Torre del Oro.

This is what it looks like from a distance. It is basically a large gold-coloured tower overlooking the river.

To go up the tower it was 1,50 euros for students. We actually brought our student ID with us at a time when we needed it for once!! Otherwise it would have been 4 euros or something.

Sam wasn't too keen on going up there, so I went up there on my own. Here are some pictures:

The steep steps on the way up:

A scary woman in a small nautical museum thing half-way up!

The nautical museum:

The view of a bridge:

The last picture is from the higest point I reached on the tower. Unfortunately, YET AGAIN, I have been prevented from reaching the top of something!!! What is going on! Some woman just said that the tower was closed. No explanation! So in the end I'm quite glad same didn't spend his money doing this.

When I came back down, we decided that we were going to hunt for a building designed by an architect that Sam likes. He said he'd seen the pictures of it on the internet and it was going to be the university library. The university building was just down the street, so we headed there.

Sam said it should be very noticeable, but after scouring the area we couldn't find it. We even went inside the university building. Here it is:

And that's when Sam realised he made a mistake.

The fucking building wasn't even build yet.

So after that incident we thought it would be safest to go and visit something we knew definitely existed (LOL) so we headed for the Alcazar of Sevilla. It is a beautiful palace with extensive gardens and displays of local artefacts.

We didn't realise before how long it would take us to see pretty much the whole of the site. We must have been there for like almost three hours!

So I'll now take you on a guided picture tour of the Alcazar:

The entrance:

A room with a painting and lovely ceiling design:

In the main courtyard of the palace:

A pond with fish in!

These little fountains are dotted everywhere!

An Islamic door design:

One of the nicest areas of the gardens:


An interesting fountain pouring into another fish pond:

More of the gardens:

We found another peacock!!


Another area of the gardens:

Me and myself:


While we were there, we also found a piano in one of the rooms. Me and Sam set ourselves the target of finding a piano that I could play on at some point during the trip, and we though we did it, until we saw a sign saying 'No se ruega tocar el piano" - Please do not play the piano.

Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo. Fuck!

Why did they do this to me?!?!?! There was a glimmer of hope and then it was all taken away *sad face*

But moving on from the Alcazar, we'd planned to visit the cathedral of the city too, but we decided we'd do that tomorrow. We didn't realise how extensive the Alcazar was, and we thought that the two places were quite similar, so this would give us a better experience.

So instead, we decided to take a slow walk down to the Metropol Parasol, an incredible and huge architectural feature located one of the squares.

Here is the first view we had of it:

Before going up it (there are walkways on top), we saw a natural frozen yoghurt place underneath it, so we cooled down and ate well there.

We then got our tickets to go up (I think it was only 2 euros altogether). Here are some photos we took while outside still:

We realized how well designed this place is.

It is based on an archeological sight below ground, which you can see as you go down. On the ground floor, it has the kind of things the residents need, such as a butcher's and smaller markets. On the floor up, there is a café/restaurant, and then there are the walkways on top.

Here's Sam in the café! This photo pretty much sums him up:

And here are our photos from the walkways:

Hand here's the archeological sight.

In the end, a place that I thought may just be an interest of Sam's, as he is an architecture student, was a really great experience for me too. It's a brilliant structure and one that has many purposes, making it useful for the local residents.

After visiting this, we decided that we'd head back to the hostel to rest and get out of the sun, and that we'd look for a supermarket on the way so that we wouldn't have to eat out. Luckily we found one which we saw the sign of earlier, and we stocked up on fruit and bread.

When Sam was queuing for the till, a Spanish woman said loads of stuff to him, then handed him her stuff that she was buting whle she went off. Completely normal behaviour at a checkout.

She came back ince she'd got what she'd forgotten and said thank you to Sam, but she tried to talk to him in Spanish. She then asked if we were Spanish and we said that we were from England, where we were from in England, how long we were spending, when we arrived and more. It seemed that she identified with what we were doing, and was pleasnat and understanding the whole time. When we had to leave, she said that you again, and me and Sam were left very surprised.

I swear that would never happen in England. But here people are freindly and willing to communicate with you, even in English.

That small conversation was one of the things that made our day. If you want to be immersed in a culture, surely one of the things you have to do is speak with local residents.

All that was left to do was to chill and eat our foot at the hostel!


So overall, today has been a real success in terms of doing what we wanted to achieve during this trip. We became immersed in the local culture, we spoke Spanish, we visited many different areas of cultural importance and there was also time for a little rest!

The only problem we have is the heat. We're gonna try and visit the cathedral from around 12-2pm so that we avoid the most intense sunlight, and we'll be keeping to the shade very often. We should be ok.

Even tonight has been amazing - sitting out here on this rooftop, watching the moon rise over the rooftops. This really is something you need to come here to experience, and we're so glad we have this opportunity to do it. I hope that this blog has allowed you to experience a little of that.

That will have to be all for now people; I've been a bit distracted again tonight so I started the blog late, and it is way too late to be up! I am so so so so tired and it mght be hard to get to sleep because of this heat. So tomorrow I will do another post telling you what we've got up to and looking forward to Granada on Saturday.

Until then, adiós!

Jack - 01/06/12 - 04:31 in Sevilla, 03:31 in the UK

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