Andalusia – Day 2

February 11-19, 2018

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Dan maintained tradition and had his Holiday Cold. He had been spending his days sniffling and snuffling and generally being miserable. We decided to sleep in a bit today, since yesterday had started so early and we had no rush to leave Cadiz today.

It wasn’t until 10 am that we finally rolled out of the hotel, leaving our bags at the front desk since check out was already at 11 am. We found some pastries to get us going and then proceeded to explore the city in the daylight.

What was really surprising is how industrial Cadiz is. I expected a really nice, clean town with a vibrant waterfront. Instead, the buildings looked run down, the streets were in poor repair and many shopfronts were closed. Of course I should take all of the above with a grain of salt, as it was the morning after a big festival and I think many people were still sleeping. Nonetheless, we were left with a less-than-pleasant impression.

Cadiz in the morning light

Rain was in the forecast!

One of the nicer streets

Looking back along the waterfront

We walked along the waterfront until we reached the far end. Along the way were stopped by a couple of tourists asking about the location of one of the city’s sites. We chatted for a bit, learning that they were Canadian and spending just a few hours in Cadiz as well. We gave them our tourist map to help them find things for the rest of their visit, and then continued on our way. At the end of the city there was a long stone jetty reaching out to a rocky island. We walked out the to end, but since the buildings were part of the lighthouse complex, the gate was locked at the end.

Looking back at Cadiz

Ship in the distance – super zoom!

We returned to the main island and made our way through the city, heading roughly in the direction of our car. It was time to leave Cadiz and head for a new adventure.

Big tree! – Dan for scale

Another aspect of Carnival that the hotel receptionist told us about is a singing competition. I am guessing that it is something like a battle of the bands, where groups face off to each other. Unfortunately, we didn’t plan to hang around Cadiz long enough to find out though.

One of the stages for the upcoming singing groups

Little free library in the park

I was pretty clever: I had planned out our morning to be as easy as possible. By walking to the west end of the island we’d be passing directly past where our car was parked. We picked up the car and drove on the now-empty roads to our hotel. Dan popped into the hotel to grab our bags and we were on our way!

The drive to Seville was uneventful. The weather had clouded over and there were a few raindrops that hit the windshield. We had programmed the GPS to avoid toll roads, but apparently it didn’t get the message. Still, 7€ for all-day smooth roads wasn’t too bad of a deal. We kept our eyes open for interesting things to explore along the way, but nothing caught our fancy.

It was just hitting lunch time when we pulled into Seville. The roads leading into the city were lined with amazingly ornate and beautiful buildings. This looked much more promising than Cadiz! Our GPS was faithful this time and led us directly to the parking garage – and a good thing, too, as there was a lot of construction nearby and the entrance was somewhat obscured. Getting the car to fit into a spot was another story! Stupid upgrade.

Marketplace mural

Once we extracted ourselves out of the parked car it was a short walk to our hotel, Hotel Alabardero. It was fascinating: a 19th century restored mansion of traditional Spanish architecture. Throughout the restaurant and hotel were ornate period pieces of furniture, and each room was decorated in a very individual and period-representative style. I liked it.

Street view of Hotel Alabardero

Ground floor restaurant and lobby seating

Internal view from our room

View from our room

We dropped off our bags in our room and headed out into the sunshine of Seville. It was time to explore a new city!

Plaza Nueva, just a couple of blocks from our hotel

Plaza de San Francisco

The entrance to Catedral de Sevilla

St Birdbrain

The Cathedral of Seville is massive. We walked from one end to the other and couldn’t believe that the highly decorated wall encircled the same building. The entrance was swarmed with people in line, and the other side was full of an equally high number of people. We considered going in, but Dan isn’t much for cathedral interiors, and I’m not much for lines. We decided to give it a pass and continue to explore the rest of the city.

Front gate of Real Alcázar

Another view of the Cathedral

After taking in the incredible line up to enter Real Alcázar, we continued to explore the small streets that led away from the main plazas and open spaces. Narrow alley ways angled between old, skinny buildings, leading us through a maze of sights and sounds. But we had a destination: tapas!

Lunch at La Azotea

Lunch was tasty, although sitting outside like we did meant that we shared the air with the taxi cabs that would park by the curb and play their music. I didn’t want to complain, since they didn’t stick around for long. And besides, lunch wasn’t that long of an event and we were soon on our way ourselves.

Narrow streets of Seville

Yet another view of the cathedral

We continued our exploration of the city, this time heading to the river, also known as “Canal de Alfonso xiii”. Other than the kitschy tourist map, we knew very little about the layout of the city. Many buildings that we passed had little gated foyers with intricately tiled walls. Tantalizing glimpses into the living space behind this gate fed my imagination as to what daily life might be like here. And yes, I realize that many of these were businesses. Let me dream!

The bullring, Real Maestranza, near the river

The river was pleasant, although the lack of benches or other areas to sit and relax and enjoy the view was disappointing. Because of this, we kept on walking more than I had intended. We strolled up to a nearby bridge, crossed over and walked down the other side to the next bridge.

Looking up the river

Others enjoying the water

We decided to pop back into the hotel and take a break for a while before going back out to hunt down dinner. But as we sat in our room, we decided to eat at the hotel itself. The restaurant is part of the School of Hospitality of Seville and had a very good reputation. It was also conveniently just downstairs.

Because we only wanted tapas, we were asked to sit in the lobby area of the restaurant. This was not a very inviting area, feeling cold and somewhat impersonal. We would have preferred to have eaten in the actual restaurant, but stayed where we had been seated. We had two waiters and one of them was obviously in training. His moves were slow, deliberate and a bit awkward. The food and drinks arrived, we ate them without too much enthusiasm and then decided to head out into the city. I was interested in see what kind of night lighting the city had to offer.

Seville at night

Seville is a great city and I am looking forward to a full day of exploring tomorrow.

Link to Day 3

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