Wednesday, August 06, 2014

Seville or Sevilla

Yesterday, Ron and I went to Seville. Kat was supposed to join us, but changed her mind in the morning. I have been budgeting €100 for the 2 of us each day. So far, it has been sufficient, therefore, it did not occur to me that the bus would take a real bite from the wallet.

We did get Tarjeta Durado tickets, which gives a discount for those over 60. For Seville, the savings would have been negligible considering the train is a higher cost to begin with as opposed to the bus. The bus also had more flexible scheduling.

Shelling out €44.50 for both of our bus tickets, I quickly started to calculate where the rest of the money might part ways during the day. It was too late to return to the apartment to get more cash. Although our ticket had revuelto on it, our seats were assigned. If this were only a one-way ticket, we were screwed.
The ride to Seville was only 1 hour and 40 minutes. As soon as we arrived, we asked if our ticket included a return. It did, but we needed to commit to a return time and get seat assignments for our choice. We were issued new tickets without a fee.

Both of us were in dire need of a bathroom once we had left the station, so we stopped on the edge of the Prado de Sebastián for a coffee and the use of the facilities. Cha-ching, goes the wallet, but only €3 so not too bad.

As we approached the Plaza de Espaῆa, I noticed the architecture was covered with porcelain tile and embellishments. As we walked to the front, we were blow away by the incredible beauty of the place. Covering the territory of about four city blocks, this humungous building was covered with painted tiles, painted plaques representing each city in Spain, each situated in their own alcove with short tiles walls on either side. In the courtyard was a man-made lake large enough for rented row boats to sail around. There were three bridges over the lake and in the center of all of this, horse drawn carriages traversed around with overjoyed tourists. We spent about two hours here just going from one tile selection to another.

Much of our time here in Sevilla was spent walking around, just gawking at the lovely sites. Ron wanted to go into the Catedral y Giralda Museo Catedrallico. This is the cathedral of the region. From the outside it looks like it can compete with any fabulous church. Inside, I cannot tell you. They wanted €8 entry fee, which I refused to pay for two reasons. 1) I hate paying to see a church that has more gold than some small nations and 2) We were on a tight budget.

There was a caveat though. That day and that day only, there was one chapel open to the public that generally is closed except for exalted occasions. I saw the line and joined it not really knowing what it was for, but if it led me to a cashier’s booth, I could always turn around and leave. It led to this special chapel. I could hear chanting before getting an inside view of the chapel. I could tell the singing included petitions to Mary for this, that, and the other followed by hear our prayer. Inhabitants on Pluto could have heard their prayers; they were so loud. Then the chapel came into view. People were walking up to a porcelain statue of Mary. She was overdressed for the heat and her headdress was larger than her body. Had she been alive, she would have needed a neck brace to not cripple her spine and buttresses on both sides to keep her head straight. Then I noticed what was happening. As each person walked by they kissed her hand where immediately thereafter, a volunteer woman wiped the hand clean with a dry cloth. It did not strike me as very sanitary and I didn’t hear any chant that went “Blessed Virgin, keep me safe from disease after I kiss you hand, because only God knows what germs that last person has left. Hear my prayer!”

No! No! No! I did not do any hand kissing. What I wanted to do was a Mary makeover. She obviously didn’t have any gay men getting her ready for this event. We walked behind the hand kissers and left the chapel. Ron continued on to the church where he begged and pleaded for the concession rate for seniors, which at ½ price was still €4 leaking from our waning budget. I waited across the way.

By now it was mid-afternoon, so hunger hit us. We shopped around for a cheap restaurant, but in this area, it is like trying to find a pregnancy test in church. Settling on one place we reasoned that a regular portion of a dish at €9, which we could share, would be more food than two tapas at €3 each. Our choice, though a good one, was still not worthy of the cost. A smallish bowl arrived with creamed spinach, walnuts and pine nuts served with a basket of bread. This and two small beers set us back another €13.

The real wallet test was going to the Real Alcázares, the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still used. Originating from the XI century, it expanded over the years. Because every culture that conquered the Iberian Peninsula used this as their capital’s kingdom, the architecture reflects the changes in styles. Many parts of the outside reminded me of buildings in Morocco. The kicker was that they charge €9.50 entry fee. Ron was able to pull off his “I am so old, look at me” routine at the cathedral and it worked, but here not so much. They wanted real ID, which we did not think of bringing. We were there and our train was not leaving until 7pm, so we had to suck it up and pay the €19 for the two of us. In the end, I guess it was worth it, but it really hurt to part with that money. 

We did do a great deal of walking around the city. It is lovely and we could easily have spent more time here. Actually, Ron wanted to spend an overnighter here, but I made him realize that the purpose of a home exchange is not to spend money on accommodations.

Before we left, we had another drink and little snack, bringing us down to €7. When we returned to Cadiz, this was just enough to buy some dinner things at the supermarket across the street from the apartment. Food here is very cheap!

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