Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"Sevilla es la leche"

Where to begin. I just had an amazing vacation in the middle of the semester. So much happened in three days.

Two cities
12 hours on a bus
the Madrid Metro
my first Renfe
a "hostal"
more history than all of the US combined
Scottish folk
two random American guys

So my journey began on Thurday night. 9pm we hoped on a bus to Madrid. It's about an hour from Toledo. Not too exciting. The fun started when we had to try to find our way to the train station. We took the Metro (after I snuck through the gate) to our station. We made it, but only to realize we were suppose to print off our tickets. After a little explanation, we got them. And not to wait to two hours for our 6 hour ride to Sevilla.
This is how we met Joel and Brandon: Two Americans asked if we spoke Spanish. Duh. Well, they didn't and apparently had done the same things we had, so one of the girls got their tickets for them. They were headed to Cadiz so we all waited together. These guys are too funny. They are studying in Madrid, but one only speaks French and the other less Spanish than me. To communicate with their host mom, who speaks both Spanish and French, she tells Brandon in French, which he tells Joel in English, and then he can speak to her in Spanish. It's a lovely little triangle. So we all hung out until midnight when we boarded our bus and settled in for the ride. Laura and Julia gave the guys their numbers so we could meet up if they ever made it to Toledo.

On the bus I sat next to some punk Spaniard who watched a movie the whole time. Fun for me. The bus driver also flirted with Laura and Melissa a little, which was entertaining. Half way through our trip we stopped for about 15 mintues to get something to eat. While waiting for our bus to come back, gues who we found? Joel and Brandon. Small world. So, we all chatted a bit more, got back on our buses and continues south.

We arrived in Sevilla at 6am Friday morning, after about 2 hours of sleep in the bus. Yeah, nothing is open at 6am in Spain, not even the Starbucks. So, we wandered in the dark to somewhere. We found the place again our last night, but we really didn't know where we were. Around 7:30 a cafe finally opened so we stopped in for a cafe con leche y bocadilla. Yum! It was a really classy joint. Yup, then it was time to find our hostel.

Now, we got lucky, we actually didn't stay in a bug-infested hostel, we stayed in an apartment. It was great. We had our own bathroom and a kitchen. So this meant a cheap trip. We went to Dia, the mercado and bought groceries for the weekend. Bocadillas, Pasta, y Cereal con leche. This brings us to about 10am. All this, and only 10am. I was exhausted. We at lunch early (11 is early) and a little siesta before heading out to explore Sevilla by daylight.

First Up, La Catedral

This is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I can't even describe it. So amazing. We wondered through, using my handy Rick Steves guide to Spain 2009 for more than 2 hours. There are so many amazing things inside, el Greco works, Columbus's remains, a huge organ, the most ornate alter I've ever seen, and a huge tower. The tower is 36 stories tall. To get to the top, you climb, but not stairs. A series of ramps lead to the top. Before there was a cathedral in place, before Christians regained control of the city and Muslims ruled, the tower was used to remind muslims to pray, rung 5 times a day. A horse would carry the ringer up the ramp. It offered the most spectacular views of Sevilla.

Then, the Real Alcazar of Sevilla

Now this place screams I WAS A MOORISH CITY! But it actually wasnt. This alcazar was built by the Christians in moorish style. It's, once again, the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. We wondered through and then made our way to a convent bakery.

Oh, except they weren't open. So we wondered. Then we went back aroun 5pm. At this point we had been walking for almost 12 hours. So we went to the bakery, got our cookies, and went home for dinner. We wondered through Barrio Santa Cruz.

Oh, I forgot to mention the best part- GYPSIES. So surrounding the Cathedral some lovely ladies wander carrying branches of rosemary trying to catch you in their trap. I got stuck with a woman in front of me. She handed me a branch and commenced chanting something. I made sure my bag was secure and let her go about her business. Then she asked for a Euro. I didn't have one. She wouldn't let me pass. I happened to have a 0,20 in my pocket so I gave her that. Oh, what the expereince. My gypsie friend and my rosemary. A great day.

We hobbled back to our apartment, exhausted and in pain from so little sleep and at this point, close to 14 hours of walking to make dinner. Spagetti, salad, and a 79 euro cent bottle of tinto de verano.

But SURPRISE! We have ants. Our kitchen was crawling with them. We killed them all, called the manager, and after waiting, finally gave in and made dinner. It was great. Really. The cheap alcohol was horrid, but the rest was really fun.
Finally, Day 1 over. We were all tucked in bed by 11:30 Friday, ready for day 2 in Cordoba, starting at 8am!!!

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