From Toledo to Sevilla, via Trujillo, birthplace of Francisco Pizarro & his brothers who discovered Peru and of Francisco de Orellana (who accompanied them and who also discovered the Amazon).
We stopped on the way at Trujillo for lunch in a little square off the main street then went for a hot but pleasant walk up into the old town, to the main square (Plaza Mayor). Workmen were dismantling big covered tented areas where there must have been some sort of event so we couldn't get clear shots of the square and wondered what had been going on that was now over! The weather was getting hotter as we finally walked back down again and we stopped for coffee at a bar with tiny tables out on the narrow street in the shade. €1 per cup and really nice! The waiter told us it had been a cheese festival that was just over.
Continuing our journey to Seville we decided not to go via Mérida, which is too big for just a flying visit, but to turn off at Zafra and go via the Parque Natural Sierra Norte de Sevilla and take a look at Cazalla de la Sierra. This was a picturesque drive, with lots of poppies and other wild flowers, purple and yellow (dandelions I think!), holm oaks, cork oaks with their blackened trunks where the cork has been harvested, and pines. At Pedroso de la Sierra we stopped at a tiny supermarket, 'Spar' (an English chain) to pick up a few things for dinner and from here I rang ahead to notify our agent of our ETA. When we got to Seville we followed the GPS instructions to the apartment and arrived there via a tortuous route at about 8pm, to find nobody waiting for us. So there we were, parked in a narrow one way street wondering what to do next, when DB saw a notice high up above the door with a phone number to ring. I got hold of the apartment owner, Eva, who speaks very good English and she was there in one minute, to let us in and explain everything to us. She gave us a map, which she marked with all the best things to do and see, helped us settle into the apartment then went with DH and DB in the car to show them the way to the parking garage. Then she walked all the way back with them to say good bye to DS and me! Like Gabriel at Ávila, she went out of her way to make us feel welcome.
Once we'd unpacked a bit, DS made Persian coucous with chopped dried apricots, raisins, red onion, grated orange zest, toasted almonds, and chorizo sausage which was absolutely delicious.
At about ten p.m. we went out to join the Sevillanas who meet at the bars and throng the streets till the early hours. I love Seville! There's something happening everywhere at every moment and it was exciting being out and part of it. The shops open up again in the evening and many are open till very late. The bars and restaurants all have tables spilling right out into the street - sometimes even the roadway - and everyone seems happy and cheerful, having dinner any time after nine pm. The children don't seem to go to bed much before midnight, and many are out in the streets with their parents at night. It was the Festival of San Marco which may account for the high spirits of everyone around.
We finally went 'home' to the apartment and fell into bed tired out. The beds are comfortable and the apartment is very nice, modern and well set up, to make the best use of the space. It has air-conditioning and a mezzanine floor above the kitchen which is a sleeping space with 2 comfortable beds pushed together to make a double. The ceiling up there is very low and the guys could not stand up in it, it really is just for sleeping! DH and I are in there and DS/DB are on the sofa bed down below. OK for families but maybe not so good for unrelated couples. It was pretty hot last night but we all managed to sleep quite well.
Friday 26th April
We spent the whole day walking Seville - to the cathedral first of all, nosing into alleyways and shops along the way. The weather was beautiful and sunny but not too hot. The queue at the cathedral wasn't too bad - I guess we waited about 15 - 20 mins to get in and there was plenty to look at while waiting, orange trees lining the streets, horse and carriages taking people for city rides, and of course the ancient old buildings. The cathedral was fascinating though quite dark. There is a sunny courtyard of orange trees, where I sat enjoying the sun while the others went up the Giralda tower - (I decided not to put my knee under that much stress - coming down again would have been impossible!) I enjoyed looking at the photos of the great views over Seville. The rooftop of the cathedral is beautiful too and very complex. We saw the tomb of Christopher Columbus, then walked to Plaza de España, stopping at a street café for lunch on the way. We each chose a different dish and shared them and they were very tasty and filling.
Plaza de España is amazing! Built in 1928 it's absolutely enormous and lined with buildings in the Renaissance Revival style of Spanish architecture, full of colourful tiling, bridges and fountains. It is also the hottest part (literally) of Seville. We sizzled! We walked on through the Maria Luisa park to the river and along the river to the Torre del Oro, built in the 13th century to control access to the city. Here we hopped on a boat for a one-hour river cruise, which was fairly pricy for what it offered, but was a valuable thing for us to do at that point as we were very tired and still had a long hot walk back to the apartment. Must have walked for about 6 hours today, which wasn't great for my knee, but I managed OK. Couldn't have gone another step though! Back at the apartment, DS ran some water into the bath and she and I sat on the side, sipping wine, soaking our feet in some nice fizzy salts and taking about the day. Mmm! Bliss!
We ate dinner up on the roof terrace when it was cooler and relaxed up there for the evening.
Tomorrow we are going to Vejer de la Frontera for the day. (27th April - see Trip report 5 in the Vejer de la Frontera forum)
Sunday 28th April
Raining in Seville! The others went out early to see if they could visit the bullring (no luck, they had to go on a guided tour and there was too long a wait but I guess it can't be too different from the one we saw in Ronda some years ago (?). I stayed at the apartment till they got back then we walked to the 'mushroom' in the old part of town, (Espacio Metropol Parasol - a modern structure, completed in 2011, which is supposed to be the biggest wooden structure in the world and that has great views over the city) and went up. It was freezing up there so we didn't stay very long. Collected the car and went back to the apartment to load the luggage and got on the road to Córdoba. (Trip report 5: Córdoba)