Today’s post is a rerun. Because of the holiday last week there was very little traffic on TWT so I thought those of you who are following my trip to Spain would welcome a reprise about the lovely city of Seville, our second stop in Spain.
After two and a half days of taking in the sights of Madrid, we headed south on the high-speed railroad to Madrid. I had chosen this particular vacation package because it included three cities in Spain; each in a very different region. Madrid is located in the central flatter part of the country; Seville is south on the Mediterranean coast, and Barcelona is in the hilly northeastern part of Spain, Catalonia, also on the coast. I was excited about heading south to what I imagined to be a romantic part of Spain. The high-speed train was neat as a whistle, efficient and quite peaceful. We were lucky to have seats in the “silent” car. (The Europeans do trains so well. The USA… Not!)
For about two and a half hours we rolled through the countryside, flanked on both sides of the train by rolling green hills, olive and orange trees, occasional windmills and a castle jutting out here and there on a rocky promontory. They were a reminder of the days when battles were fought centuries ago across these lands.
As we were driven from the train station to our hotel in Seville, we entered an area filled with purple flowering trees on both sides of a beautiful river flowing through the center of the city. It was like driving through a bank of purple clouds. I later learned the trees are called jacaranda, and some areas of Spain aere famous for them in Spring. Adjacent to the jacaranda trees were rows of palm trees standing majestically along the Guadalquivir River. The water was sparkling, the palm trees were gently waving back and forth and the sun was shining brightly. I felt like we had arrived in Paradise.
Hotel Becquer is located about three blocks from the river, on the busy main street. But this was a scaled-down thoroughfare, with plenty of parking and lots of shade trees.
The hotel at first did not appear as fancy as our hotel in Madrid, but once inside I changed my mind. It was very elegant; lots of wood tones, lovely paintings on the walls and a quiet, warm, sophisticated feel to it. A lovely portrait of the hotel’s namesake, the poet Becquer, adorned one of the lobby walls, as did portraits of other Spanish artists and writers.
Gustavo Adolfo Claudio Domínguez Bastida, better known as Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer (February 17, 1836, Seville – December 22, 1870) was a Spanish post-romanticist poet and writer (mostly short stories), also a playwright, literary columnist, and talented in drawing. wikipedia
Either we were just lucky to land in the “artsy” part of town of both Madrid and Seville, or the Spanish are just more enthusiastic about honoring their painters and poets than we are. I suspect the latter!
Upon arrival we walked around a bit, discovering the lovely area along the riverbanks. We also walked past the famous bullring, la Real Maestranza, which we toured the following day, and got a glimpse of a famous landmark, the Torre de Oro, so named because of the yellow tiles which once covered its exterior and glistened in the sun.
The Torre del Oro is a dodecagonal military watchtower in Seville, southern Spain. It was erected by the Almohad Caliphate in order to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river. Wikipedia
Our bus tour of the city was comprehensive and included neighborhoods on both sides of the river. Once the tour guide mentioned La Triana, the neighborhood directly across the river from us, as the area where the working people of Seville reside, and its historic importance as the birthplace of ceramics in Seville and the place where Christopher Columbus and his crew spent time before their world voyage, I knew I wanted to go there.
After crossing over the picturesque bridge designed by none other than Eiffel (of the Eiffel Tower), known locally as the Triana Bridge, commissioned by the Queen Isabella II of Spain who loved all things Parisian, I immediately felt the difference in the neighborhoods. This was the real heart and soul of the city.
The little square we first encountered was bustling with small shops, people doing their daily shopping, bicyclists, and, of course, some tourists. But there were no grand buildings and overdressed shoppers on this side of town.
A short walk away we came upon the ceramic center where a small museum devoted to the history of the ceramic industry is housed, with a display of its ancient kilns which fascinated me.
I am a passionate collector of handpainted ceramics, so suffice it to say I thoroughly combed several shops displaying their wares.
Along with some decorative bowls, an olive tray, and a house sign bearing the numbers 41, for our home on LI, we purchased a set of counter tiles which involved some considerable back and forth between the lovely owner and ourselves. She did not speak English, and I spoke very limited Spanish, but we were able to get the job done!
There’s more to say about Triana and Seville , but I’m out of steam. Next week: a tour inside a bullring, a cozy venue for tapas, and a flamenco show.