Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Espana Frio

Jill and I arrived in madrid on Friday to learn that our luggage had stayed in Paris. We got to lament this loss for the next 2 hours as we waited for our friend Monica who was flying in from Australia to meet us in Spain. We all reunited without a hitch, before taking the metro to the train station and heading off on the 2.5 hour train ride to Seville and our rental apartment. Our lovely landlord showed us around our very basic lodgings before we turned in for the night.

Saturday morning our landlord brought us morning coffee and showed us around the neighbourhood, where to buy groceries, where to get a good coffee, where the market was etc. All very handy iformation, including that there was a football (soccer) game going on that evening. Off we went to buy tickets, then learned how to use the city bicycle system. Once the system has your credit card number, you can ´rent´ bikes from a multitude of bike parking areas. the rental is free for the first half hour and 50 euro cents for every half hour thereafter. A great system. You grab a bike, to your destination and hook it back up. The system recognizes your user number, it recognizes which bike you take, and when you bring it back and charges you accordingly. Very handy.
We had a beautiful day of bike riding, drinking beer and having a picnic in the park before heading out to our very first ever European football game. The crowds were amazing to watch with a full section of the stadium singing for the WHOLE game. they had a big drum that kept the beat as they sang. Very fun.

In grand contrast to our glorious Saturday, Sunday was COLD 3 degrees, and raining for the full day. Because everything closes on Sunday this made the day doubly worse as we had no shops to duck into to warm up. We got a chance to tour the bullring and learn about the history of bullfighting in Spain. Apparantly it started as a military training exercise where 6 bulls were chucked into a ring with soldiers who were training. People started watching these training exercises, then formal rules were created and voila, the art of bullfighting was born. I was more than happy to tour the facility and learn about the history, but would never have the inclination to actually see the fight. We learned that top matadores are paid up to 180 000 euros per fight. but out of this pay they must hire doctors, have insurance, pay for the bull, pay for their horses, pay for their costumes, pay for their assistants etc. So though it may be a lucrative job, it does have some high overhead. Seville has 40 bullfights per season, each bullfight has matadores fighting a total of 6 bulls. The meat from the bulls is sold at a high price in the market after each fight. Though I´m not keen on the idea of bullfighting, I´m glad to hear that the meat doesn´t go to waste.

Monday morning had us up and out to visit the Alcazar. This royal palace was built by a series of both christian and Moorish rulers over the span of several hundred years. There is moorish stucco and tile work, with moroccan looking doorways, acres of gardens, and spanish buildings and rooms with coffered ceilings, yellow and blue tile and huge tapistries. The whole place took us well over 3 hours to meander through. I can´t wait to see the Alhambra in Granada when we get there. I had seen both the Alcazar and the Alhambra on a previous trip about 7 years ago, and am finding it very interesting to see everything again. It´s amazing how little I remember!

Tuesday was another pouring rain day that we braved to take a bus to the roman ruins town of Italica. We got to spend several hours in the rain touring the site, including baths, preserved mosaic tile works and an amphetheatre. All very cool.
Today we are looking forward to meeting up with some local people for Tapas. The Seville couch surfing group has invited us out to their meeting, should be a great time. then only one more day of wandering the beautiful streets of Seville before we catch a train on Friday for Granada. Hopefully the weather changes for the better.

Take Care
Stay Warm

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