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Archive | December, 2012

Start spreading the news

20 Dec

Aaah. New York. New York.

What an amazing city. I arrived last night in Greenwich Village at 10pm and the place was buzzing. It’s great to be back! I’m sure The Village had just woken up. My apartment is on the 6th floor above the Pink Pussy Cat… yes, you’re right what you are thinking! Every cab driver knows it… even though I could the express A train in from JFK. Another first for me, as I have never flown in or out of JFK before. A plane lands and takes off every minute. Whoa – imagine being an air traffic controller at that airport? Actually don’t, as it’s too stressful!

Another airbnb.com find and my new housemates are Laura and Simone (her cat) named after Nina Simone, are just awesome (this is my home – https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/647896 ). 

OK, well first day spent cruising sunny NYC and found the best espresso and Murray’s Bagels. As you can see, it’s a tad cold! But the sun is out – so all is happy in the world!Image

No shoes bought at DSW so tomorrow is another day to find shoes. Maybe I’m getting too fussy. More importantly is jazz tonight, so I’d better be off. Laura tells me that The Blue Note is too touristy, so it’s The 55 Bar 1 minute away that I should be going to. So of course I listened. It will probably be half the price as well. I’m doing the 10pm show so I’m breaking out my Black Milk tights for the occasion! Gotta run. Missing tapas I must say.

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I’m in love

19 Dec

Many destinations get me excited. Cairo, (Africa in general), Istanbul, Barcelona, Paris, Melbourne, Hong Kong, San Francisco, New York, Madrid, Innsbruck, Heidelberg, London, beautiful Sydney… I could go on for ages … But nothing compares to the awe I feel for Sevilla. I am overwhelmed. It is a magical city, filled with beauty around every corner. And I can tell you I’ve walked around most… A couple of times, as I always get lost! Always!

Sorry Barcelona, but Sevilla is now my favourite city,

I can not wait to return in Spring and smell the Sevilla orange blossoms.

The view of my home from Plaza Cristo de Burgos

The view of my home from Plaza Cristo de Burgos

Goodbye my wonderful home for the past week. Thankyou airbnb.com

A bleak kind of day

19 Dec

Today is my last day in Sevilla and the weather reflects my mood. I am very sad to leave this amazing city. I have had a wonderful, most marvellous stay.

I decided to walk the other way away from Jewish quarter and tourists and hit Macarena. No, not to dance but to see a famous contemporary church, the Macarena Basilica, built in 1949, which houses the most valuable treasure in Seville, the Virgin de la Esperanza, popularly known as the Macarena because of the quarter where the basilica is located.

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I then walked by the river for quite some way until it started to rain.

Not that the rain is a bother here, but hey, it was 2pm so found a Bodega. Only to realise that I was right near the Sevilla Bullring. You can imagine what was on the walls.

IMG_2358I had just ordered my wine only to look up and see Toro heads times 8 hanging on the wall. Even more un-nerving was they were dressed in Santa outfits. I know it’s part of Spanish culture (well surveys say that the majority of people over 40 would not see a bullfight today and it isn’t part of Spanish culture but introduced by the Moors in the 700s). Whatever, it’s pretty gloomy for an entertainment choice.

So, siesta time and my last night awaits. Brighten my mood with a Museum or gallery, fabulous tapas, blue cheese and vino please!

Star Wars day

17 Dec

Today I could not wait to visit one of Sevilla’s grandest of sights, Plaza de Espana. It was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition and continues to amaze everyone who sees it.

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It’s a giant semi-circle of renaissance revival architecture, several hundred metres in diameter, with a moat crossed by ornate bridges. It’s actually the size of 5 football fields.

Also being a Star Wars fan I was in awe imagining myself on set of Star Wars I or II – The Attack of the Clones or The Phantom Menace – take your pick!

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It also has on the walls of the Plaza 48 tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. These ceramics are very ornate and extraordinarily beautiful and detailed.

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It was an exotic pleasure of the senses from the breathtaking moment that you see the Plaza to wandering over its four bridges (which represent the four ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon), to thinking you’re on Planet Naboo: it simply takes your breathe away.

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Oldest Tapas bar in Sevilla

17 Dec

Well today was my rest day, so what should I do? And it’s also raining in Sevilla, but not a cold rain, it’s a balmy 16 outside.

With the church bells chiming throughout all of the old city, my day began at my local cafe next door to where I live where I try to speak Spanish. The girls who work there just laugh at me! I don’t mind!

I look at my map and think about walking for a few hours.

Today I treating myself to tapas at the oldest tapas bar in Sevilla called El Rinconcello. It is filled with old world ambiance, the staff don’t speak any English (and why would they). It was packed when I got there at around 1pm. In fact every Cerveceria and restaurant was as I walked around the city.

First I met two hilarious gentlemen who lived in the old Jewish district of Santa Cruz and spoke basically no English. It was very cool how they kept your tab written in chalk on the bar.

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Then I met the most delightful family and friends. So sympatico, which means nice and friendly in Spanish.  Alice’s son spoke English so we could chat. They made my afternoon.

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The. Best. Day. And I haven’t finished as a Flamenco show at Casa de la Memoria and after to La Carboneria awaits!

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Cordoba

15 Dec

Another amazing day. This time I decided to go on a walking tour of Cordoba. The guide was through viator.com and I highly recommend the tour company. The wonderful guide’s knowledge was incredible.

So we started exploring the Alcazar and then moved on to the many historical buildings amongst the old Jewish Quarter. Visigoths were the first to inhabit, where now stands the Palace and Cathedral, then Romans, Christians, Muslims (who built a mosque in 785) plus many others who came and went and destroyed most of the buildings. Some amazing history with Kings adding on bits to the Castle and Cathedral over 000’s of years. Alfonso the Wise even started a library as he wasn’t into fighting! The interior is a mixture of Gothic, Moorish, Christian dating back to the 1300’s.

The interesting thing is that with all of the wars and inquisitions that were held throughout the history of Cordoba (and it being an important port and considering the capital for some time), money ran out. So the architecture is a mixture of what was left lying about. It is really interesting to see.

  

I had a lovely visit. Quaint streets that you get lost in. Little tapas bars that excite you with their typical Andalusian menu’s. They have a thicker variety of gazpacho topped with cured ham. It was delicious! When I was leaving people were starting to line up for the Cordoba v Barcelona football game that was on that night!

Gazpacho Cordoba style from Bodega Taverna Rafael

The sad thing was that they were giving an eucalyptus tree a trim: only to find out that they were chopping it down. It’s branches had dropped and hurt some people. The funny thing was that there was no protest, no sadness. I mean the tree was over 200 years old, so for me it was a BIG deal. But hey, for the Spanish, they were walking around on 2000 plus year old heritage site. What’s a 200 year old tree in their big scheme of things? My picture doesn’t show how large the base of the tree was. I did feel sorry for the ol’ girl. She looked so serene there and she has watched over the port for so long.

The 'young' 200+ aged eucalypt

The ‘young’ 200+ aged eucalyptus tree made me a tad homesick

Granada’s hidden secrets

15 Dec

My day trip to Granada took around 3 hours to drive. And on our tour I met three lovely Muslim sisters from Washington State who were on University vacation. They made my day fun as they were cat lovers and there were a few, very fat and furry strays that smooched us along our expedition. I hope to see you again one day girls! That is the humans, not the cats!

The Alhambra was a fortress for the Nasrid dynasty which lived there from the 13th century. It was impressive and while there’s not much left of King Mohammed I’s buildings (1237), his wall stands firm bordering the vast layout, but there is still a lot of wonderful 13 & 1400’s Islamic art and architecture.  Recent renovations and restoration have taken place,  especially The Court of the Lions which was built in the 14th century by Sultan Mohamed V. The waterfall now works and the court is truly beautiful.

Restored Fountain of the Lions, Alhambra, Granada

My final finds of the day were discovering that when you ordered a drink in Granada, its tradition to get a small plate of tapas! Cool hey? My first bar was a bit dodgy and I thought the waitress was being nice to me. But upon finding a much more salubrious tapas bar on my way back to the bus, where they had a much better choice of vino, and a chef that spoke English, I met a lovely retired Professor of Philosophy, Luis. We shared a conversation in broken Spanish, English and French, which was a lovely conclusion to my Granada visit.

Shared a chat in a cool tapas bar in Granada

Retired Philosophy Professor Luis Villegas Forero and I shared a chat in a cool tapas bar in Granada. Many Muslims live in Granada due to their history of Mohammad I dating back to the 1200’s.

Overall a superb day, but I am even more keen to visit the Sevilla Alcazar as I hear it’s even better than Granada.

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