Here comes Sunday, my last vacation day. Thankfully I had booked a somewhat late flight and could still enjoy Seville and friends a little. The plan was, first a visit to Plaza de España, which had been undergoing renovations for years and had just reopened to the public the previous weekend. Afterwards, mystery lunch at Casa Az…
So I got ready, packed my suitcase and went off for breakfast at the now usual place, which turned out not to be opened yet! Disaster! And with a reminder of yesterday’s red wine galore threatening to break out any time, that was not very good news. Well, I just ignored the looming headache and decided to go on with the plan, leaving coffee for later, in a bar under a large tree near the Plaza de España (upon recommendation by Jessica).
So I dropped off the luggage at Casa Az and on I went. Didn’t get lost, and even found the bar under a large tree (or at least, “a” bar under a large tree), where I ordered the usual two café con leche. After which, fresh and energetic, I went towards the Plaza de España. Should be right there, just to the left of that large building…
And then the breathtaking place appeared all at once out of nowhere, right there in front of me. The very first thought which came to my mind was, you have to see it to believe it. And that thought quite literally “came” to my mind: you know when you think, that you have to be active and actually guide the thinking processes and make a brain effort or something? Well, this wasn’t one of these thoughts, but rather like someone had sneaked up behind me and whispered the words aloud somehow straight into my mind. I don’t know how to explain. It doesn’t matter either: just go there and see.
It helped that this was still early(ish) morning and the place was near empty. The crisp light was shining on a large half-circular building, decorated with colourful tiles depicting all the provinces of Spain. So I walked around these artfully tiled walls in wonder, all on my own. The building being half open, I could also just enter and get up some stairs to go to the balcony with a view on the rest of the place: a wide open space, encircled in a small canal which, I found out later, you could navigate on with small rowing boats. For now I would just cross the water on one of many little colourfully tiled bridges, and enjoy the vast quiet place and a central fountain.
Time for a break: back to the bar with a tree for another coffee, and decided to see the adjacent Parque de María Luisa. It was nice too, with ornamental ponds and sculptures and shade from the trees and broad alleys, but I had to go back to the Plaza — how could I escape its irresistible grasp?
By now it had filled with shedloads of visitors, vendors, horse carriages, boat tours, and a choral. The tiled provinces were harder to see, as many people were getting their pictures taken in front of them, occasionally on them, or just admiring the intricate work. Time to leave then.
On my way back to the city happened the darnedest thing. As I sometimes do when I believe no-one is seeing me, I was practising sign language finger alphabet. (I love learning languages. German Sign Language is my latest passion, but it needs practising.) Anyway there I was, standing at a red light spelling random stuff when the light turned green, and on the crossing a woman in front of me signed something back (if I understood well, something along the lines of ‘do you know sign language’), to which I forgot what I answered (probably ‘yes, I am learning sign language’). It turned out she was an English speaking lady working with deaf children (that, she said aloud). We didn’t speak much otherwise, and went each our own way. Still I was quite happy to see that other people do know that language and, better still, identify my curious gestures as being sign language. In normal times, this would have made my day, but that one Sunday seemed to keep being made again and again, so it was just one amongst many amazing experiences.
Also amusing, and more in line with my usual cluelessness, is when I spotted an open church on the way, and decided to enter to make up for yesterday’s cathedral candle fiasco. So I rushed in, went a few paces inside looking for a candle corner… Hmm, it certainly does look familiar around here… Yes, I came in through another entrance to the cathedral. Don’t ask how I didn’t recognise the outside, nor why it took me several seconds to recognise the inside. Anyway, going out of the cathedral meant I was close to Horno san Buenaventura, so I went again for a last café con leche until…
… lunch at casa Az. An early lunch actually, because one of the visitors has the cheek of leaving in the middle of the day (my flight was at half past five). So the whole gang met again, and we were treated with the finest traditional Spanish food, homemade by the lady of the house herself: as a starter, a nicely perfumed goat cheese with crackers, olives, and rocket salad in a sparky vinaigrette, served with Tío Pepe’s delicate dry sherry. The main course consisted of the special Spinach Tortilla with Salsa Az, and the star of the lunch, a munificent Paella which dragonqueen had been longing for the past few days, a festival of the senses. Along with the food we were served a beautiful smooth white wine, the perfect companion to a brilliant meal. The atmosphere was complemented by the street noises of people speaking and having fun in the streets downstairs, and Paco de Lucía playing the guitar in the stereo.
But everything has an end, and finally I had to leave. Luckily the conversation topic had been rolling, at some point, on Terry Pratchett, and notably his Tiffany Aching series, which it turned out I hadn’t read, shame on me. So Az gave me her copy of The Wee Free Men for the way, and really, really, that did help me a lot overcoming that sneaky going-back-home blues. Probably better than Carl Sagan’s Demon-Haunted World, which is nice too, but less funny.
And so I left, after Az threatened promised to open me a blog, for which I had to think of a name before my plane left. Then Noggin brought me to the shuttle, in which I thought I’d think of a name on the way to the airport. But I ended up chatting with Amanda, a young student from Bogotá who was staying in Spain for a while, and didn’t really think of a blog name but had a pleasant journey instead. The few URL suggestions I came up with while waiting at my flight’s gate were all voted against, but the blog was created all the same.
But already the PA system announces my flight; with a heavy heart and light reading I step to the flight attendant, passport and boarding pass outstreched, uttering a last hasta luego before proceeding to the plane, and colder skies.