Day 8 - Seville

no hesitation, what are we waiting for?
we talk too much

Talk Too Much - COIN

I'm actually reaching towards the end of writing about this trip. It's the penultimate post people. It's taken a lot work, so after this you may expect dull stories that come perhaps only once a month. Anyway, day 8 was spent exploring Seville, another kind of chilly day. The day started in the Royal Alcázars of Seville or in Spanish, Reales Alcázares de Sevilla, or in Game of Thrones world, Dorne palace. To be honest, I couldn't remember which part of the Alcázar was featured in Game of Thrones or even thought of it when I was there. I just googled it and saw the scene captures and I thought to myself, oh yeah I was there :D The Alcázar is opened at 09:30 AM and I had a booking for the upper apartment at 10:00 AM, its first session. When I got out of my hotel, I saw a C1 bus by the red light and so I kinda ran to the bus stop and I made it. The entrance to the Alcázar was by the Lion's Gate which I had difficulty finding in Google maps. Seriously it took me days to find it. This picture was taken after I had finished actually.

When I arrived, there was already quite a queue and from the Internet I learned that the queue for people who already have tickets are at the middle, but they all seemed to blend and chaotic for me. Found what I think is the middle. Asked a couple in front me if it's the correct queue. They thought so. Then behind me came 3 Chinese aunties from Xiamen. I think in languages I can understand better than I can speak. Somehow I had a bit of conversation with one of the auntie in my very broken pretty much non-existent Chinese. They also had bookings for the upper apartment, but theirs was at 11 if I'm not mistaken. I was in awe of the aunties. I think their English is like my very broken pretty much non-existent Chinese, but they made it travelling and doing this on their own. When the queue moved and all with booking breezed through, somehow they were gone from behind me. There was a bag check through the machine when you enter and after doing that, I saw that there were free maps by the entrance for people who buy ticket on the spots. Luckily I spotted that because I used that map to make sure I visited every corners.

The upper apartment can only be visited by booking and you have to arrive 15 minutes before scheduled time. Knowing that I tend to get lost, I made it a point to get there on time. When I arrived, there's already a lady and I think her daughter talking to the staff. The staff couldn't find their booking and he finally figured that their booking was actually for the next month, but he let them enter anyway. I wondered if the lady knew but pretended not to. The booking listed people by name, so he had to check one by one. You again had to run through your bag through the machine and then deposited it in the locker. We had difficulty figuring out the locker and I had to ask the staff, how to do this and only then he told us that you need to deposit 1 euro. Gosh, why didn't he tell us earlier. Anyways so again, the upper apartment can only be visited by booking and a time slot and in a small group. There were 7 people including me in my group. Each visit is like 20 minutes or so in which you cannot take picture and cannot wander on your own. You're given an audio guide and that audio guide will tell you when to move and where to enter. Along with that, you also have a security guard who walks with you and makes sure you go to the correct room. I wonder if it's boring for the security guard. He's definitely clocking his 10,000 steps walking with group after group every day. It must be tiring too because he cannot sit.

The upper apartment was the living quarters of the Spanish royals. What I remember from my visit was that there's a small beautiful chapel or praying room. There's a long dining room. There were some antique clocks which were kinda interesting. Of course there's antique furniture and all. Overall I guess it's kinda interesting. After that I went to a nearby exhibition of tiles or ceramic on the same floor. I didn't stay long because I was more interested in exploring the compound so I can't remember what it really was. Here's a look of the upper apartment from the courtyard.

Overall I think the Alcázar was so so, that is because after Alhambra, everything would fall short. It's definitely bigger and grander than the Alcázar in Córdoba, but the garden when I was there had less flowering plants so it's mostly green. Here are some of the things that you can see in the Alcázar of Seville. You can see the standard Moorish low fountain.

Then there are beautiful designs on the ceilings. The second picture below shows the famous one from the Hall of Ambassadors.

There are also beautiful ceramic tiles on the walls. Below is an example of one of them. They make you wonder how they're put together.

One interesting thing that I really like is the Doña María de Padilla's Bath. It's kinda hidden and luckily I had a map with me that told me it exists. It's not the same, but it reminded me of Istanbul's Basilica Cistern.

The outdoor garden is big and I stumbled into a musical fountain. I didn't know what it was, I just saw a group of elderly sitting and waiting and so I waited too. The fountain wasn't exceptionally beautiful and the sound / music coming out of it wasn't beautiful too (in my opinion), but it's a water organ. So I guess that's kinda cool. It started drizzling lightly, so I walked up the sheltered balcony behind it and waited for awhile. Luckily it stopped quite quickly. Then I explored the rest of the garden. Honestly maybe my timing was off, I saw mostly green and not many flowers. The garden is big, it has a maze (a group of German boys had so much fun playing in them), a pavilion, bigger fountains with pool, and also other smaller fountains like this one.

In a corner of Jardín Inglés (which I assumed is English garden), I saw this peacock. I think there were more than 1 peacock and they were quite loud.

For pictures from the Alcázar, please go here. I think I spent too much time in Alcázar so I quickly went to my next destination, Seville Cathedral. I actually contemplated that perhaps it's okay to not book this beforehand, but how glad I was that I did. The queue was long and it felt good to just breeze through. Booking included free audio guide, but the queue was quite substantial and it wasn't moving, so I was like forget it. The cathedral is big and there's quite a lot to see and I have to say, it's quite stunning.

It has a lot of precious thing. Like this one below is just a small part of a big golden altars that was gated. You couldn't really come close. Wikipedia's caption on the picture it has is that, Pierre Dancart's masterpiece, considered one of the finest altarpieces in the world.

Another one of really interesting thing in the Cathedral is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It's so grand, it's like I think I've never seen a tomb fancier than this. My thought went to poor old Vasco da Gama whose tomb in Lisbon's Jerónimos Monastery was like so plain in comparison. Wikipedia told me that the 4 figures in Columbus' tomb are the kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre. I tried to find more information, but I couldn't find if Columbus' remain is on the box the kings carried or on the one below that they stood on. You have kings at your tombs. Do you think Columbus is deserving of this? I have like mix feeling about this. On one point, it's like yep, it would be so cool if my tomb is like this too. On the other hand it's like it's kinda over the top. Too much. Mix feeling I say, mix feeling :D

Moving on, I saw that the queue for the Giralda / Bell Tower is quite long, but I wanted to do this, so I quickly joined in. Me, tower? Yes I did write many times that I don't like climbing enclosed stairs but I was promised ramps for this tower. It's actually quite spacious and airy inside the tower. The windows in the tower are sufficiently big. Wikipedia told me, The tower has a ramp with 35 segments wide and tall enough to allow a person to ride on horseback to the top of the Moorish tower. Fascinating right. By the way, part of the cathedral and this tower used to be a Moorish mosque. The ramps were built to make it easier to go up the tower and make the Muslim call of prayer. While it wasn't tiring to get up, it took quite long because it was basically a queue all the way to the top. I wonder if it would have been tiring if I had walked all the way without stopping every few seconds. I think that would be more enjoyable than my experience in the queue. I hate people you see. So being with so many people and noise and not being able to just get out, I had to like calm myself. Behind me were these 2 Italian dudes, one of them kept bumping into my backpack, adding to my annoyance. One of their conversation was about how Spanish words could be misleading for Italians, like the word salida.

When I finally reached the top, it was actually drizzling. Yes the top is covered, but you could feel the water splashing. The top was crowded, I wonder if the staff counted how many people are on the top or in the tower. My thought went to safety there. So being that it was very crowded, I just quickly went around and took pictures. In the picture below, the round stadium is the bullfighting ring, Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla. For short I just call it La Maestranza.

Some of the bells rang when I was there. Being at the top, it was obviously loud. The way down was faster and a better walk. I walked inside the Cathedral a bit more and then I exited. By this time the drizzle had stopped. I took some pictures of the Cathedral and tower from the courtyard. Just like in La Mezquita in Córdoba, the courtyard is filled with orange trees.

By this time I think it's around 3 pm. I needed to have lunch, however the restaurants all around were still busy and crowded. I waited at one, but like no waiter was willing to help me out, at least to greet. So I walked to another one and again it was busy, but luckily I managed to get an attention of a waitress and she was willing to hear me out and I got a table. This place serves mostly paella. Didn't plan to have paella in this trip, because it's a Valencia thing not Andalusia, but beggar cannot be chooser. Thankfully it's a single person serving. My paella had pork, chicken, prawn, and it's pretty good. After lunch, I made my way to Church of El Salvador. The ticket for the Cathedral includes this too. However when I was there, there's no one manning the entrance or checking ticket. It's Monday though and quite late in the afternoon, so maybe it's their free time. In Seville, many places are actually free Monday afternoon. I like places that give free entrance even though only for a particular time. I like it for obvious reason because it's free, but also because it gives a chance for people who cannot afford to pay to also have access to these wonderful places. Church of El Salvador is not very big, but the altars inside it are so out of this world. I don't think I've seen anything like it before. It's in baroque style. I'm first to admit to not have any knowledge of any artistic style or how to identify one. In Wikipedia it's written, The Baroque is a highly ornate and often extravagant style of architecture, art and music that flourished in Europe from the early 17th until the late 18th century. It properly explains how extravagant the altars are. So many angels and saints, so many things, so crowded, so mesmerizing :D

After the church, I made my way to La Maestranza. I was so looking forward to this especially because Monday afternoon it's free, but darn that was like my big disappointment in this trip. It seemed it is free, but I think they have like limited slots and by the time I was there it was way passed 3 pm and I think they weren't accepting any visitor anymore. It's not very clear, there were a lot of people trying to get in, but all of us were turned down, very sad, very very sad *sigh* so I only have picture of La Maestranza from the outside.

Then I made my way to the nearby bridge, Puente de Triana, and took picture of the Guadalquivir river and Seville. This picture below is from just before I reached the bridge.

From here, I walked all the way to the tower, Torre del Oro, where's there's a boat cruise along the river, but I decided not to do that. I walked a bit more in the old town and then decided to call it the day. So that was how I explored Seville. I don't think I explored much. For pictures, please go here.

:) eKa @ 8:48:00 PM •


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