We got up fairly early, had a quick breakfast and got onto the road by 9:30 am. We were on a mission to go to another country. Spain if you must know. We were heading to Seville for the day, partly just so we could say we’d been and partly because it’s somewhere both Kas and I have always wanted to go. Partly also because I wanted to do a few caches there so I could “get another country”
On the way we stopped to put on suncream. Somehow the previous day in Carvoeiro I’d managed to get myself seriously sunburnt through the armpits of the shirt I was wearing, and to put it mildy, I was in some discomfort. I have no idea how I managed to achieve that.
The journey along the motorway towards Spain was pretty uneventful until we decided to stop for fuel. We had several problems. We couldn’t figure out whether we had to pre-pay or not (we had to), and we also couldn’t figure out how to get the fuel filler cap open. There was no lever like my car has, and it didn’t lock with the key. It took us ages, having pulled up to a pump, then pulled away again to allow the queue behind us to clear, and so on. Eventually we enlisted help from the kids. Sure enough, within a minute or so, Izzy had got it sorted. The fuel filler cap on a VW Golf is spring loaded apparently, and you just have to press the cap inwards to make it pop out properly. D’oh! I’m sure this foreign driving game is easier in your own car.
When we got into central Seville it was about midday Portuguese time, but we’d completely forgotten that Spain is 1 hour ahead. The phones remembered, but we didn’t. We thought we’d just wasted an hour somewhere without noticing.
So we parked up (eventually) and grabbed a fairly leisurely (but relaxing) lunch at a cafe just outside the Plaza de España.
The Plaza de España is apparently a landmark example of the Regionalism Architecture, mixing elements of the Renaissance Revival and Moorish Revival (Neo-Mudéjar) styles of Spanish architecture. Whatever that means, it’s pretty impressive, consisting of a very wide semi-circular promenade with big towers at each end and in the middle. Within the semi-circle is a series of canals with little squares, fountains and bridges. It’s really pretty. The whole place gets a bit of a fairytale look from the fact that many of the surfaces (especially around the waterways) are ornately tiled in bright coloured ceramics.
One of the great features of the Plaza de España is the row of tiled “Provincial Alcoves” set into the inside ring of the semi-circle. There’s a little alcove for each Spanish province (all 48 of them at the time it was done), each of which is ornately decorated with a religious or historical scene representing the relevant province. Each is big enough to have a couple of tiled benches guarding its entrance and therefore allowing the opportunity to rest up a bit and appreciate the architecture. Due to the Spanish treating their provinces in much the same way we English treat our counties, a number of the alcoves now have the wrong name (for instance Oviedo is now called Asturias and Logroño is now called La Rioja. To make matters worse, having a single province for the whole of the Canary Islands was not sufficient, so the single alcove for Tenerife now represents the provinces of Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas.
While we were in the Plaza de España we found a few caches in the park and on the building.
From here we meandered our way past a couple more caches on our way to the Reales Alcázares de Sevilla – a substantial complex of palaces and gardens originally built by the Moorish kings. The current Spanish monarchy still uses the upper floors as an official residence when they’re in town. It’s quite impressive.
Next on the agenda was a walk towards the Catedral, where we bought souvenirs and mooched about a bit. The cathedral is the largest Gothic, and the third-largest Christian church in the world. It’s also (one for the pedants here) the largest cathedral in the world, as the two churches that are larger aren’t the seat of a bishop. Given that one of the larger two is The Pope’s Gaff it seems a bit harsh claiming to be the biggest on a technicality like that.
Anyway, by this time we were getting a bit hungry, as it had been a while since lunch. This is when we hit upon a bit of a problem. Sunday evening in Seville seems to involve restaurants not serving food. The first place we tried made sure we’d ordered and received drinks before telling us their kitchen was shut. We drank up quickly and moved on. The next place we tried left us sitting unattended for ages before we finally just got up and left. At the place where we had lunch they were still serving, but not food, just drinks. At this point we decided to cut our losses and start heading home.
We managed to get out of town with only one navigational error, and we drove all the way to the motorway services at Olhão before needing to stop for a drink.
Oooh look! There’s a cache in the car park.
When we eventually got home it was quite late, so we had some quick snacks out of the fridge for tea and then hurried the kids to bed.
Parasailing tomorrow for Kas and Ami.