Our first night in Seville, we enjoyed an al fresco dinner and flamenco show at our hotel. The dinner was probably the worst meal we had in Spain but the show was outstanding...almost as hot as the temperature in the courtyard of the hotel. The next day we took a tour of the bullring and its museum. I used to take pictures of art in museums, but now prefer photographs of people looking at art. The restaurant La Bulla (the rooster) is where we enjoyed two great meals. We also visited a ceramics workshop/store, and I took a couple of shots of flamenco dancers before being admonished not to take pictures. In another shop I found a sculpture of Don Quixote and his pal Sancho Panza. Many shops and stores use a pull-down shutter when they are closed and they are often decorated with various artwork. A nice touch! At the bottom, especially for my friend Nigel, is a wall I liked.
Tuesday, August 25, 2015
Like in seemingly every Spanish city, there is no shortage of places to eat, and my eyes open up whenever I see an interesting restaurant, cafe, tapas bar, or market. Spaniards stay up late to eat, and we got in the habit of not even thinking about looking for a place for dinner until after 8:30 or so. And even then, we were often like early birds looking for the special. Seville was also the hottest of the cities we visited, so the only practical time to go outside was well after dark. Being tourists, however, we weren't always practical.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
After a relaxing three hour AVE train ride down to Seville from Madrid, we went in search of colorful markets and interesting places to eat. Actually, we waited until the next morning but that's not important. In search of lunch, we stumbled upon La Bulla. We had no idea it was featured in Rick Steves' guide to the city. Nevertheless, we enjoyed inspired cooking and excellent service. Our last night in Seville, we went in search of the same place, not realizing we had already been there. I enjoyed my shrimp cornichons and roasted chicken, while Patti ordered the calamari tatare. Both outstanding. That same morning we took a taxi to the Triana district across the river and discovered the Mercado de Triana, a covered food market that sells just about anything you could want. We had a wonderful breakfast there and then just walked around watching locals buy their food for the day.
Monday, August 17, 2015
We spent quite a bit of time on trains in Spain. All of it was enjoyable. The trains are clean and comfortable and exactly on time. At the top we are at the station in San Sebastian in the early morning. It was a train that made about ten stops on the way to Barcelona, taking about 5 and a half hours to get there. Along the way, we made a stop in Pamplona, where the running of the bulls was still going on. Riders dressed in the typical garb of those who had taken part in the festivities wait for their train. Below that are two shots of Atocha Station in Madrid. In 2004, there was an attack on commuter trains arriving from various places. Many people died in the attacks and over a thousand were wounded. There is a large tropical garden in the center of the station, as well as a number of statues honoring famous Madrilenos. Below those photographs is another view of Atocha and then the interior of our AVE train as it hits 100 mph. The station in Seville follows. On the way back from Granada to Madrid, we bussed an hour and a half to a new station that will one day connect the AVE with Granada. For now, it's a bus ride and then the AVE to the capital.
During one of our days in Madrid we took the AVE (Alta Velocidad Espanola) to Toledo. The train, which we used on three legs of our trip, makes the 100 mile trip in about a half hour. Paying the extra money for the first class cabin is a no-brainer for us. It's not that much more expensive and affords an extremely comfortable means of travel. Super fast, very smooth and quiet, the AVE is something I wish we had in California. But as my traveling companion Alex pointed out, these trains lose money by the bucketfuls. Nevertheless, I'm glad they exist. Toledo is a very old city and fun to wander around in for a few hours. There are no food pictures this time as we only had time to grab a quick lunch. As you can see, it's hilly and, after about four hours, we were hot and sweaty and ready to get back to Madrid for a siesta before tapas and dinner.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
These are a series of photographs in no particular order taken over a three day period in Madrid. Number two is the Atocha Train Station with its botanical garden in the center. Number four is Plaza Santa Ana with the M Hotel in the background. Nice not to have to walk too far after dinner in 100 degree heat. A beautiful city that I want to visit sometime again but not in the summer.