Tapas y Tapas

23:11 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

During my maternity leave, I was missing travel. It had been almost 6 months since my last real trip and the itch was setting in.  Some deals came through on BA, and we poured over the destinations before finally settling on Seville. At the time we were feeling like the confident parents of a child who was sleeping 6 hour stretches.  Come the time of our trip, we were excited to get 4 hours at a time. But nonetheless, we were determined and with one small suitcase for us and one giant suitcase for L, we arrived at the airport (after a small mix-up on which airport we were out of).

As soon as we arrived, I knew it would be wonderful. We were staying in the popular Santa Cruz barrio, filled with narrow and winding cobbled streets. The taxi dropped all our gear off as close as they could and we walked the streets just beginning at 9pm to fill with everyone on their way to dinner. When we finally arrived at the hotel and checked in, they told us about a free walking tour the next day, so we decided it was the perfect way to orient ourselves in Seville, figure out what sites were worth seeing before going back to explore.  We dragged ourselves out of bed at 9am ready to hit the ground walking.

Three hours later, and countless smiles for the baby from wandering locals and tourists, we had seen almost all of the city's top sights. We learned an important lesson in preparation as it started to rain on us and we fastened an umbrella (purchased at the 'it just started raining price' from a corner store) over L's stroller to keep her dry.

As we finished at Plaza Espana, we decided to continue the walk and meandered through the gardens and streets.  I was taken in by the vibrant tiles found everywhere from buildings and walls to park benches. If there was one memory I took away from Spain though, it was the oranges - every park was laden with orange trees and the time of year must have been right as you could smell their aroma as you walked through and stepped over all the ripened oranges that had found their home on the ground. All of it together with the sun seemed a bit like paradise to a woman who'd been landlocked for such a long time!

That evening we had arranged to visit a flamenco show. We were a bit worried about both the noise and the later hour for the littlest Tart, but she was fascinated with it. It was an intimate venue with one guitar player, singer and dancer - the setting meant you heard every pluck of string and stomp of the heel, and see the expressions on their faces showing the pain and joy of the music. The excitment must have been too much as L fell asleep in my arms; we had a few moments of smug thoughts as we decided to put her in the stroller and grab dinner while she slept. We wandered til we found a restaurant near the hotel with the famed Iberica ham hanging from the window, ordered our meals and wine, only for her to wake up as soon as our entrees had arrived! Karma.

After getting whatever sleep we could get that night, the next day was time to get more into the details of the sites, as so far all we had done was leisurely strolling,  taking lots of breaks for croquettes and sangria.  We first visited the Alcazar of Seville - a tour probably would have been a good idea as there wasn't a lot of direction on where to go or what to see, so without much decision making on our part, we first wandered through the buildings.

You can see the Moorish inspiration in so many places in all the little details of the tiles, ceilings, walls, floors - many of which I shared as my favourites in my last blog post), and the distinctly Arabic carvings - these were beautiful, detailed and sprawled across the facade of the building, around the courtyard, but also found their way into the details of the rooms with arches across doorways and windows.

The building brought us to the "backyard" of the Alcazar or as Game of Throne enthusiastics would know it as Dorn. It wouldn't be Sevilla without orange trees, flanked by stone pathways that always seemed to intersect with a fountain in the middle.

When the wind picked up, we decided to duck inside the nearby Catedral de Sevilla to escape.  The highlight of the visit is the Giralda bell tower. Our tour guide had stumped us with a question on how many steps the tower had - it was a trick question since the tower is actually filled with ramps! Originally the minaret of the mosque, before converted to a church, the ramps allowed a horse to ride up for the 5x a day call to prayers.  From the top, the views are beautiful and worth the walk up (even with a baby in tow!)

On our last day of our trip (after a quick day in Cordoba), we revisited the Plaza d'Espana - compared to the first dreary day, it was a completely new plaza. The sun was shining, people were selling hats, shirts, balloons and artists had set up to paint the view, or do quick sketches for tourists. I had wanted to look at more of the detail of the plaza, with each province of Spain represented by a tiled alcove depicting something unique to the province.

All that sun meant it was time for a tapas break before our last look at tiles and gardens at Casa des Pilatos. With tiles just as beautiful, but far fewer crowds, it was a perfect way to end L's first European vacation.

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