Tag Archives: Spain

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

Farewell Madrid – Hola Sevilla.

11 Dec

What have I been up to? Well, yesterday I went to Segovia and it was an absolute delight. The Romans built an aqueduct over 800m long end in the 1st century or early 2nd century (yes really) and most if it remains today and the highest is 29 meters. Goodness knows how they did this to make it last so long especially without mortar! Bless the Romans!

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Of course there is a HUGE Cathedral – the last built in Spain and is considered the masterpiece of Basque-Castilian Gothic churches. But the draw card is the Alcazar. I know after going to Granada, all other Alcazar’s are going to look like a poor relation, but hey it was pretty awesome. It looked like a fairy castle and housed many Kings (with awesome names such as Alfonso the Wise, Sam the Wise (on no that was the hobbit), Queens and Queen Isabella (named after my Mum and daughter me thinks).

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Anyhoo – the tapestries, artwork and furniture were amazing. As were the stained glass windows and it was cool seeing the armour that they wore. So much fighting! And of course the artwork hanging on the walls reflects this. It now houses an artillery museum.

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I like this guys armour. He had hearts where his mouth was supposed to be! Maybe he was the Queen’s favourite? The view from the top of the tower was spectacular and there were snow on the neighbouring mountains as it was fffffaa-freezing!

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They also had these really cool black & white birds that looked like and about the same size as our magpies but they obviously weren’t! There really wasn’t a lot of tourists around, a couple of small busloads but not many. I felt a bit sorry for some of the purveyors in the old city – as there wasn’t much action. There was a high street filled with exclusive stores, but it seemed to be full of locals. For the state of the economy, I’m not finding it all that cheap. A bottle of awesome red Spanish wine costs 1,50E upwards, and a glass in a tapas bar costs 2,50E plus.

I’m on the train now to my next adventure – Sevilla. Catching the bus three stops to my new home really isn’t worth it – but my suitcase is getting a tad heavy and cumbersome! And it will be nice to get maximum temps of a sunny 15!

The view from the train is pretty spectacular – even if we do go through a lot of tunnels and are traveling at over 250kms/hr! Olive trees everywhere! Orange trees everywhere. Then some grape vines! It’s quite amazing. And so is the Spanish wine! And oranges! And olives! No wonder they have olive oil icecream – I gotta find me some of that!

Ah, life is grand.

 

Airports: logistical brilliance

7 Dec

After flying for over 30 hours to get to Spain (no wonder people call us crazy Aussies), my appreciation for airports and the services that they provide has increased. I’m sure you have thought about this at some stage during your travels as well, but my goodness, sitting in Singapore and Heathrow watching the amount of planes and people that are ‘moved’ through the transport system is amazing. I couldn’t hazard to predict how many people per day travel through Heathrow, but the amount of staff, food, waste, hire cars and taxis that contribute to turning the cog.

The elements of SIVA really ring true in this aspect and most people would not even give a thought to this. Solution – too many to list for passengers, but the main one would be getting from A to B, but with the many services that are now offered, we take these for granted. Singapore airport for example has a movie theatre, gym, pool and many more services, not to mention shopping that goes on for kilometres! Information – found everywhere with helpful customer service staff on hand, who are bi-lingual. I do feel for staff who get abused by passengers because the hot breakfast has run out. Probably the most important element if airlines want return customers is Value . Some airlines and their staff forget that it’s them and their attitude that makes our journey enjoyable, memorable and helps us build relationships with that airline. Access comes from every digital, online and human touchpoint.

I must say that the staff at Heathrow were lovely. Which I know many of you will be surprised to read that comment! They must be still on a high from the Olympics! And good on them! It made my transit visit much more pleasant and easier than it could have been. I think I was up to 24 hours travel by then and the lady looking after the showers bumped me up the line so I could have mine and be on my way before someone else who had a later flight.

Next time you’re passing through an airport, just take a second (or 2) to think about the logistics of even the simplest of things: getting your luggage to the right plane, then finding it at the right gate when you arrive at your destination! Ever thought about the de-icing truck? They have a limited time before take off to de-ice the body of the plane. Ensuring that the food loaded onto your plane doesn’t get too near the fuel or waste truck. I could go on and on.

Because when you think about it, it’s not that simple at all.

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