Saturday. After slightly more than one full day in Seville it was quite clear that the city was a candidate for my Top Cities In The World list (along with Edinburgh if you need to know). Would today be up to my expectations? Would the Tapas Tour planned for that evening be able to compete against yesterday’s lunch? What an unbearable suspense.
So the day started again by breakfast at Horno san Buenaventura, again with a café con leche y tostada con iberico, but with aceite instead of mantequilla — olive oil instead of butter. As I was finishing the first one dragonqueen showed up, so I beckoned her and she sat next to me. Was she impressed when I acted as a translator between her, who didn’t speak Spanish, and the staff, who didn’t speak English? (She ordered milk coffee and toast with butter and jam). Unfortunately the whole impression crumbled when I tried to order the same again for me, because the waiter asked something back and I was immediately lost. Apparently, the question was whether I had asked for the bill or for the same again.
After breakfast Karen and I hit the road. She wanted to visit the Alcázar, so I walked her there, not because I was afraid she’d get lost, but because I had some time to kill before the Cathedral opened to tourists.
So again I indulged in my favourite pastime, walking aimlessly in the streets. Another golden opportunity to show off my mastery of Cervantes’s language came up: somebody asked me the way to, er, somewhere, to which I answered with a loud and confident no sé.
I reached the Guadalquivir and walked along the bank for a little while, eventually venturing on a random bridge. This happened to be the Puente de San Telmo, and reaching the middle point I sat on a bench to enjoy the sun and the view. But a surprise was waiting: many little padlocks which had been secured to the bridge’s fencing, as lovers do sometimes (like in Paris on the Pont des Arts). Some of these locks had the lovers’ names on them, it was very sweet. So there I sat for a little while, enjoying the quiet flow of the Guadalquivir and the ghosts of symbolic romances being sealed.
Time to leave. The short way back through small alleys led me to the Cathedral, where the queue was so long it must have reached Cadíz. So I decided to go on with some aimless walk, but when I came back an hour later the queue didn’t seem to have diminished a lot. But since it was moving fairly fast I just joined and indeed there was little waiting time.
At the entrance of the cathedral, an eerie intuition made me decline the audio guide, intuition which was confirmed the next day by dragonqueen who found that it wasn’t as good as the one in the Alcázar. For the record, I also noticed a poster possibly advertising for tours in sign language (LSL? Anyone knows?).
Anyway, back to the visit. The cathedral is, apparently, the third largest church in the world. It notably hosts a Christopher Columbus mausoleum, most impressive, four large crowned figures carrying a coffin allegedly containing Columbus’s remains (but probably not, it was found recently). The treasure, and much of the decoration, was (as usual in cathedrals) overloaded with gold and stuff. Did these craftsmen and goldsmiths have no idea about elegant simplicity? Anyway, as the French say, c’était too much. I liked better the building itself (again with mixed architectural influence); also the organ impressed me a lot, and the ornate stained glass windows which were resplendent in the midday light.
I must confess here that I’m a sucker for those things in churches — the organ, the windows, and lighting candles. Aha, notice something missing here? Lighting a candle. I didn’t find any candle there! How is that possible? Where are the candles? How baffling. If the archbishop reads this blog: take notes! Get candles!
The lack of candles was more than made up for by the Giralda, the cathedral tower. A square tower, dating back from times where the building was still a mosque, with a sloping floor leading upstairs, much less taxing than stairs. And from up there, what a view! The city spreads in all directions, and being not very hilly you can see quite far. Plus, if you like this sort of things, the bells and tolling mechanisms are visible up there (I love them!).
After this it was time for lunch already. With another insider tip by Azahar, I went to the Cervecería Giralda. Since the outside tables were taken I sat inside, very cosy and possibly typical for the region: the walls were decorated with these blue tiles and geometric designs one can find in many other places like the palace or the cathedral. There I ordered octopus, swordfish, and queso manchego, along with some vino tinto. All were great, although possibly the octopus would have been even better with the preparation of the swordfish. But it was bud blowing anyway.
Then came the time for a nap. Back to the hotel I lay down for a short time, and an hour later I was up and ready for more adventures until Tapas Tour time. I went back to the Cervecería Giralda, had a few beers and almost started discussing with a maybe regular (he looked like one), who seemed to be a history buff as well. If you read this: I’m terribly sorry I couldn’t speak; I hope to catch you next time!
And then: time for the long awaited Tapas Tour! The full band met again, that is, Az, Nog, dragonqueen, Jessica and me, and on our way! We visited three places, each with a distinctive character and great food. In the first one we had traditional Spanish meat delicatessen, in an atmosphere of wooden furniture and large mysterious cisterns, at once intimate and convivial. In the second one we had further meat delicacies, standing at the bar of this crowded bright and bustling place. Seafood was left for the third place, whose atmosphere reminded me a bit of French bistrots, and which had that most amazing waiter, Manolo. You know when some people really look like they grew up for what they do? Well, Manolo is like that. Efficient, affable, cheery, it seemed he could read your mind and serve you before you had to ask for anything! I actually suspect the place was built around him.
The flip side of such a tapas crawl is, what with good food and friends and all, one may tend to drink a lot. The wine being nice doesn’t incite to moderation either. In a nutshell: I have very little recollection of what happened afterwards — hopefully an uneventful way back to the hotel for me, full and happy.
But one burning question raises its sneaky question mark… If the food was so nice today, could it ever get any better tomorrow?