Daily Archives: October 14, 2012

The Getaway… Day 1 and 2

It’s already a week ago, but a much-needed short getaway came at the right time. Blogger friend Mitchell who moved to Sevilla in Spain showed so many nice pictures and told stories about what this city had to offer, I just had to go and see… and taste myself.

I booked way in advance, a small hotel in the centre of town and a flight which would leave very early in the morning, so I could make the most of my day. One month before leaving I received a mail my flights were rescheduled, instead of flying out at 6 in the morning it would be noon and of course I wouldn’t arrive in town at one but had to wait till 8 that same evening. Still no problem except my last flight out on Tuesday changed to their first flight out, so my 5 days in town changed to three.

I was squeezed in a chair with my 2 meter frame, because I couldn’t book a chair a day before, but on the connecting flight from Lisbon to Sevilla I had a choice, sitting front row with no window next to me, but one in front of me, in a Beechcraft 1900.

Picking up ones luggage when there are only 14 people on a flight looks easy, you only have to walk to the other side of the terminal to do that, so you can go through customs. But if you would have smuggled something you could have handed it over before to an accomplice because it’s all in the same open space.

A short taxi ride brought me to my 2 star hotel, the qualification of Spain’s hotels have to do with what they offer, for me it was primarily location, but also the light rooms, the roof terrace and architecture [same architect as the Plaza España]. Have a look for yourself

I had a single room on the second floor for two nights and could change to a double, without extra costs, for the last two nights, which I did.

That evening I met Mitchell and his partner of 31+ years Jerry for the first time. We met  at El Sanedrin, next door is Bodega Dos de Mayo, a well know restaurant/bar which specializes in fish tapas. [correct me if I’m wrong]. As several of you know I’m not really a fish eater, but when the choice of meat is small you just have to try.  That’s Jerry [aka San Geraldo] holding up what’s left of his fishes. Mitchell and I shared some other fish tapas.

San Geraldo spends his time during the day doing research work, as a former librarian he has made a system in which to track what he finds and he can connect the dots in history. During the evening he’s a jolly giant. [I know I’m not small myself]. In this photo he’s still dissecting those fishes.

His stories of what he has found out in the international archives are remarkable. Most of it is not in English but Yiddish Polish, and old writings have different characters than we use today.

I brought both men some gifts from Amsterdam, a Delft blue vase they have to assemble themselves, a bacon bar and chocolate of Mast Brothers in Brooklyn, NY. because Mitch hails from that part of New York.

Mitchell is the total opposite of him, yes opposites do attract. He knows more of the here and now and goes places around town. Just as Amsterdam, Sevilla is an open air museum. There’s so much to see, and around each corner there’s a church, a shaded square or another alleyway which lures you deeper into town.

On my first day I met Mitchell on the square in front of his home, I got the tour of their home. I love those high ceilings and 4 French balconies on two sides of the living room. After that our first stop was the taxi stand in front of El Corte Inglés. Our destination the Cathedral and La Giralda. The Catedral de Santa María de la Sede is the largest gothic cathedral in the world, the bell tower is a former minaret of the mosque which stood here. Some parts of the mosque are imbedded in the cathedral walls. It was warm 32 degrees C / 90 degrees F in the shade, especially if the day before you leave storm and rain and 13 C / 55 F behind. The queue to get into the cathedral was long, same a the queue to get into the Reale Alcazar [Royal Palace]. But we did spot a wedding party at one of the 80 side chapels.

Seville Cathedral has fifteen doors on its four facades, and they all have another function. Like on the west side the Door of Baptism, the Door of Assumption and the Door of the Nativity, this last one is only used during Holy Week. On the south side there’s the Door of Saint Christopher with a replica of the “Giraldillo” which stands in front of it. And on the north side Door of Forgiveness. This door gives access to the Patio de los Naranjos [Court of the orange trees], part of the old Almohad mosque, now annexed to the Cathedral.

We did went into one of the side chapels, a mass was said and a couple got their blessings on their marriage. The ambiance was overpowering, large statues looked down on the masses below, candelabra cast their spell on the walls covered in tiled representations of saints.

Next stop was for coffee or something a bit stronger on one of the many terraces that surrounds the plaza. After that much-needed rest we took a cab to the Metropole Parasol on Plaza de la Encarnación [Incarnation Square]. On this former market square the city of Sevilla wanted to build an underground parking garage. Only they found right under street level Roman excavations, they were dug up and the garage was replaced by a modern structure. The structure consists of six parasols in the form of giant mushrooms, whose design is inspired by the vaults of the Cathedral of Seville and the Ficus trees in a nearby plaza.

Metropol Parasol is organized in four levels. The underground level [Level 0] houses the Antiquarium, where Roman and Moorish remains discovered on-site are displayed in a museum. Level 1 or street level is the Central Market. The roof of Level 1 is the surface of the open-air public plaza, shaded by the wooden parasols above and designed for public events. Levels 2 and 3 are the two stages of the panoramic terraces, including a restaurant, offering one of the best views of the city centre.

Of course this structure is totally out-of-place in these historic surroundings, but still a fun way of seeing the town from above. Walking the walkway on top of the parasol and the temperatures, had my blood glucose levels dropped to one of my lowest levels, and it took me 3 desserts and a Naranja to get back to a reasonable level. Mitch asked me if this was what the doctor would have ordered me to do… , of course not but those desserts looked yummy and were small enough to eat. [Sorry Dr 2!]

The afternoon was spent with a siesta, and around seven a call came if I could meet Mitch and San Geraldo for dinner at one of their favorite tapas restaurants Duo Tapas on Calle Calatrava 10 near Alameda de Hercules. The food was delicious, the staff wonderful and the company great.

And again, as most times of this trip, I forgot to make pictures of the food. I got one instead of the place mat.

I had that night tempura battered vegetables, and no alcohol. Suddenly the lights flickered but all kept burning. On our way back walking along Alameda de Hercules all the street lights were out, but all the building lights were full ablaze. Did someone at city hall forget to pay the bill?

More later tomorrow.