Category Archives: Seville

Random Thoughts on Seville

Does it seem strange to you that milk is only sold in one liter containers (about a quart), but olive oil is readily available in five liter containers?

Seville has a large and beautiful old town, but it is marred by a lot of graffiti. Most shops have metal shutters they pull down over their doors and windows and almost all of these are covered with graffiti.

Seville residents are the worst at picking up after their dogs.

In the afternoon, everyone is walking on one side of the street while the sidewalk on the other side of the street is empty. Why? Guess which side is the shady side! Have I mentioned that it is hot here?

They love mayonnaise here. I got a tapas plate once of chicken croquettes. There were six croquettes (about two bites each) and at least a cup of mayo to dip them in. Same with French fries in a spicy sauce. There was about half a cup of mayo under the spicy sauce. I wonder what their cholesterol level is here. I wonder what mine will be when I get back.

Nine is an early dinner. Restaurants don’t get busy until ten.

A meal must start with a dish of olives. Bread is sometimes free and sometimes not.

It is very rare to find anyone in a store or restaurant that can speak English, though most restaurants have English menus.

Many streets in the old town are so narrow there is no sidewalk on either side and you must walk in the street. You learn to listen carefully for approaching cars. An electric car could be deadly.

I have never seen a city with so many churches. On the next to last day in Seville we discovered a new church only a block from us. It only had one of the clues we discussed previously.

Mary is by far the favorite statue on the alter of churches here. According to Rick, the residents of Seville are as loyal to the Mary of their choice as they are to their soccer team.


Don’t even think of shopping between 2 PM and 5 PM. Who wants to be out in the heat of the day. Also, many stores and restaurants close for vacation in July or August.

Out of the 28 days we have been here there have been clouds on 6 of them. Interestingly, each of those days has had total cloud cover in the morning that clears to no clouds by noon. What you rarely see is a few puffy clouds. And the highest chance of rain I saw was 7%.

You see more people sitting at cafés eating churro and coffee on Sunday morning than you see in church. What is going to happen to all these old churches with so few people attending them?

Who would guess that Susan would be so excited every time she finds a new church during her walks?

Most photographers are drawn to certain subjects like windows, doors, laundry, or graffiti. I happen to like tree trunks with a sub specialty in tree roots. Seville is a paradise for me with many big, old trees with exposed roots. I have used the greatest possible restraint to only share one here.


Does anyone know a salmorejo anonymous group? The withdrawal when we leave is going to be difficult.

Ronda 2: Bridges, Beauty, and Bull

For there to be a new bridge, there must be an old bridge. So in the cool of Friday morning we walked down through the old town to the two older bridges in Ronda and on to the Arab Baths. The Old Bridge dates back to 1616. Even further down is the even older Arab Bridge, which is often called the Roman Bridge though it is unlikely it dates back that far. You can see the remains of the Arab Baths just behind the bridge.

We walked back up through the terraces on the new town side of the gorge. The picture below is looking back through the Old Bridge to the Arab Bridge.

We stayed in the Parador perched on the edge of the gorge. We spent much of our first afternoon there at the pool. The weather was beautiful with temperatures in the high 70’s and a light breeze.

Below is the view from our room.

Ronda has both the oldest and the biggest bull fighting arena in Spain. It is one of four arenas in the country that still have bull fights. We have seen three of the four. Most cities held the bull fights in town squares such as I described earlier in the San Sebastián pictures. The picture shows some goofball hiding behind the protective barrier. By the way, that crazy guy told me there is barely room to squeeze behind the barrier.



Ronda, Part 1

Thursday and Friday we took an overnight trip to Ronda, one of the white hill towns in the Andalusia area of Spain. It is perhaps the smartest thing we have done the whole trip. They are called white towns because almost all the buildings are whitewashed.

We arrived by bus into the new town and rolled our luggage through the streets of Ronda to our hotel on the border between the new town and the old town. Despite the fact that Ronda is on a hill, the fifteen minute roll was relatively flat and uneventful. When we reach our hotel, this is what the border between the new town and old town looks like.

The gorge separating old town and new town is 360 feet deep and only 200 feet wide. New is on the left and old is on the right. Notice all the terraces on the left side overlooking the gorge. You can walk from the bottom of the gorge to the top along these terraces. The walls of the gorge are essentially vertical. And joining the two parts of Ronda is the New Bridge.

By our standards, the new bridge is pretty old. It was built in the last half of the eighteenth century. There are two older bridges but they are much lower in the gorge; so the new bridge saved a lot of walking up and down to get from one side of town to the other. The light brown building on the left in the above picture is the Parador hotel we stayed in. Ronda is a beautiful, clean town with scenic views everywhere you look. If we were planing this trip again, we would probably spend a week there.


A Ride in the Park

Every Sunday so far we have gone to a large park (Maria Luisa Park) about 1.5 miles from us. Last Sunday we rented bikes and rode around the park and the surrounding area.

This is a panoramic shot of Plaza De Espana, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The building is semicircular with a man made canal in front of it. The canal is long enough that they rent rowboats to use on it. There are six bridges over the canal to get from the central courtyard with the fountain to the building. The whole thing is very impressive.

We went back to the beach on Monday for a day trip and are taking an overnight trip to Ronda, one of the white hill towns, on Thursday and Friday. Next blog will be after we return from Ronda.

Something Different

We have now been in Europe for well over three months and will be back home in less than three weeks. While I am thoroughly enjoying Europe, I am starting to think about returning home and I am realizing that there are certain things I miss about home. Following is a list of the Top Ten Things I Miss About Home.

10. Being able to watch Letterman before falling asleep to provide inspiration for writing this list.

9. Ice. The only sure way to get ice here is to order sangria. With other drinks, you usually don’t get any ice unless you ask and then it is usually only one cube.

8. Hearing American English. If you hear any English, it is usually someone from Australia, Britain, or Canada. I know we have talked to more Aussies than Americans and I’m pretty sure we have talked to more Canadians also. I would love to hear a good “y’all”.

7. Driving a Car. Public transportation is great here, but there is still a big convenience in driving a car. However, no way would I drive a car in old town Seville. The streets are confusing enough and you have to know which are wide enough for cars. I saw a car on the street today with the wheels on both sides touching a curb.

6. Iced Tea. Big. Cold. Unlimited refills. No can involved. They have the cutest little glasses and bottles here for soft drinks.

5. My Reclining Chair and Zero Gravity Chair. Rental units and hotels have a serious lack of comfortable chairs. I usually end up sitting in a dining room chair because the others are so uncomfortable.

4. My Computer. I am using an iPad which is doing a pretty good job, but it is just easier to do some things on a computer.

3. Pulled Pork Barbecue. I guess that really became an issue when we moved from the Charlotte area to Pawleys Island. There is no substitute for Bridges and Lexington Barbecue. You can throw Cajun, Creole, and Southwestern food into this item also.

2. The Marsh View. I love to look at the marsh behind our condo. We have an abundance of city views that are superior to most US city views, but we are seeing little of the country; and I generally like the country better than the city.

1. News From Home. No, I don’t miss the local TV news. In fact it is a plus not having any local news I can understand. However, I really miss hearing what is happening with family and friends. Y’all can help the situation by keeping in contact by email and letting us know what is happening in your life.

Shopping for Food in Seville

The first decision to make is where to shop for food. The biggest grocery store is in the department store about five blocks away. In addition to food shopping, you can get your hair cut, your teeth cleaned, and see a travel agent there. The closest option is a small Seven Eleven like chain which has most everything you need and is much cheaper than the department store. Our favorite choice is the local farmers market with meat, seafood, vegetable, cheese, olives, and fruit stands.
Your first assignment in the grocery is to get the milk for the cereal. You head to the coolers and search to no avail. What, a grocery with no milk? In Europe the milk is sold in paper boxes and is not refrigerated. The expiration date on the carton I am using now is November 1. Believe me when I say it took us a long time to find the milk the first time! Your next task is to find the skim milk and the lactose free milk with all Spanish labels. Grocery shopping can take a long time!
The Spaniards love their ham. You see dried pig legs hanging in most of the stores. They cut thin slices off of it by hand. I find it very fatty and tough, but it is extremely popular in sandwiches and plain as an appetizer.


You see quite a few things in the farmers market that you won’t find in Harris Teeter or Publix. For example: prepackaged mixed vegetables, pigs feet, rabbit, and live snails trying to climb out of their container.




But if you want prickley pear cactus fruit, you have to go to our local sidewalk vendor.

Yes, even food shopping is an adventure for us in Seville.

PS. I got curious why the milk here doesn’t need refrigeration. They pasteurize the milk at a higher temperature and use aseptic packaging. This saves a lot of money by not having to refrigerate during shipment or in the stores and reduces waste from spoilage. The downside is that it kills all the good bacteria in milk as well as the bad bacteria. I am surprised Europe goes for it since they are more into natural, unprocessed foods than we are.

Horses and Sherry, Jerez

Last Thursday we made a day trip by train to Jerez de la Frontera. Jerez is known for two things: horses and sherry.
It is the home of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. This is a university open to all EU students. The campus consists of an enclosed performance stadium with a royal box for the king and queen, several practice rings, stables, gardens, exercise ring, tack room, office buildings and a horse health center. We saw a performance called a horse symphony, but it might more accurately be called a horse ballet. Photos were not allowed, but you can see some video typical of the show here.




After the show, we had a quick lunch and went to the Sandeman Bodega to tour the facility and sample the sherry. In the EU, all sherry must be produced in Jerez. The name originated from us poor English speakers trying to pronounce the name of the town. In listening to pronunciations of the name, it seems both the “j” and the “z” are silent. A bodega is a winery and there are a lot of them making sherry in Jerez. We chose Sandeman because we liked their port in Portugal. It is clear I have a sweet tooth because the sweeter the sherry the more I liked it.


Take a Walk with Us

First, I must give credit for the concept of this post to Pam of MSNomad. We liked the idea when she did it and so blatantly stole it to use today.
We set out this morning to walk to two large, historic buildings. Seville has no shortage of such buildings. We started out at 10 AM so the shopkeepers were busy cleaning the front of their stores.

We walked down one of five more or less parallel pedestrian shopping streets and stopped to check out a church from the 18th century adjacent to a Guess store.

As usual, we didn’t buy a lottery ticket from the numerous vendors all over town. We didn’t know how we could learn if we won!

We enjoyed walking under the shade of the overhead canvas that covers much of the shopping streets and even part of this plaza in front of city hall. Have I mentioned that it is hot here and everyone likes to walk in the shade!

We thought about trying a carriage ride, but we are going for a walk, not a ride, with you; so we kept on walking.

We stopped briefly to listen to some Mexican music, but decided we didn’t need any CD’s.

We carefully avoided the “rosemary ladies” who give you a sprig of herb, read your palm, and want a five Euro tip. “No, gracias!” They are all around the cathedral.

We took one more look at the cathedral that dominates the old town.

We reach our first destination, The Archive of the Indies.

The building has an interesting history. Seville has a navigable river to the Mediterranean. After Columbus discovered America, all trade between Europe and the Americas was done through Seville. The building was originally built to house all the trade groups that developed here. After a while, the port moved from Seville to the coast and the building became a tenement. At that time, Spain was taking a lot of heat for controlling the Americas, so they decided to use this building to house all the documents relating to the discovery and trade with the Americas. They were trying to make the case that they rightfully owned the Americas. Ultimately, related documents from all over Europe have been housed here. They also claim to be the first archive to computerize their documents so researchers anywhere can access them.
But let’s continue our walk. Just outside the archive a group of camp kids and their counselors are having a good time singing and jumping.

We listen to a little violin music,

and do a little browsing.

We reach our next destination, a huge building that used to be the tobacco factory that was the inspiration for the opera, Carmen. It is now part of the University of Seville.

The building is surrounded by an old moat to help protect it from tobacco thieves.

We walk home through Murillo gardens by the old Jewish section.

We then walk down another awning covered shopping street,

where Susan is still shopping for the perfect flamenco dress to wear in Pawleys Island.

Rebajas means sale, but the price wasn’t quite good enough to close the deal. I hope you enjoyed the walk today as much as we did.

Cucana and the Kingdom of Talossa

Yesterday we went to the modern art museum in Seville and then went to observe traditional cucana. The museum is in a building complex that was first a monastery and then a tile factory. The building was relatively interesting, but the art ranged from awful to disgusting. I found it interesting to read the English description of the art works which consisted of big, impressive words put together in a sentence which meant absolutely nothing to us.
The one thing of some interest other than the building was an exhibit on self proclaimed countries around the world. These included Republic of Lakota (an Indian tribe) in the Midwest, State of Jefferson (CA), Republic of Molossia (NV), The Conch Republic (FL), and the Kingdom of Talossa (WI). The Lakotas might have a case, but the others were pretty far out. The exhibit included uniforms, currency, flags, and other things associated with these “countries”. Leaders of these “countries” even get together at their own UN periodically.
The head and arm in the windows of the first picture are kind of cute.


After the museum we went to a street festival in Triana, a section of Seville located across the river from the central area. The people of Triana are noted as being fiercely independent and do not consider themselves part of Seville. Come to think of it, they should have been part of the museum display. As part of the festival they have a greased pole competition called “cucana”. The pole is mounted at an angle sloping up from a barge. The idea is to run up the pole and grap the flag at the end. We watched about thirty young men attempt it, and only four came as close as a yard.

If you want to watch some video of the cucana, click here.

Walking Around Seville

Seville is a fascinating town to walk in. We probably are walking four to five miles each day and we like to keep trying new routes so we see new things. We are also getting better at finding our way without the aid of any maps. Susan uses stores for landmarks to find her way and I use squares, churches, and the few long straight streets in the old town. These are some of the interesting things we have seen in our walks.

I really liked these whimsical door knobs.

Lots of beautiful courtyards. The buildings are mostly like ours with a wooden door on the street. When you unlock the wooden door and walk through it, you are in a small hall with the mailboxes. In front of you is a wrought iron gate which you unlock to access the courtyard. The apartments are off of the courtyard. If you are proud of your courtyard, you leave the wood door open so people can step in to admire it. The above is one of the nicest we have seen.

The Metropol Parasol. This modern structure is just a few blocks from us and is the start of Susan’s exercise walk each day. It is reputed to be the largest wooden structure in the world. It was built to house the street market where we buy most of our food. It has a walking track on top and a museum in the basement of Roman and Moorish remains dating from 1 BCE to 12 CE they found when excavating for a parking garage on that spot.

Shopkeepers cleaning the front of their shops. Many shopkeepers appear to take a lot of pride in their shops. It is very common to see them mopping the sidewalk, dusting the sills, and cleaning the windows when they first open. The sidewalks are usually tile so they mop better than our concrete sidewalks.

And churches. It seems you can walk two blocks in any direction and find a church. We are thinking of doing a survey of our neighborhood churches Sunday to see if attendance is sufficient to support all of them. And how do you know you are at a church? Four ways: a tile sign unique to that church, a small oval sign with the name of the church and the century it was built in Roman numerals, a bell tower similar to the one below, and usually a plaza adjacent with the same name as the church.