(I’ve been back from vacation for 11 days now, and while my body is back in Portland, a significant part of my heart and mind are still in Spain. Not a day goes by that I don’t think about our time there – four days in Madrid, followed by seven days on the beautiful Costa de Luz. But nothing haunts me more than Sevilla, a magical city where we only got to spend one night. Following are some photos and impressions of this fascinating and beautiful little city.)
After two very busy days of driving to Arcos de la Frontera and the Rock of Gibraltar, Mallory and I spent all day Wednesday relaxing in the sunshine on our balconies – the back one first for morning sun, and the front one last for afternoon sun. The most taxing thing we did all day was wander down to the beach for a little rock skipping, picture taking, and playing in the water.
The next morning, however, we had to face the reality that our time on the beach was over (just as the weather was starting to get nice, too) and we had a 90 minute or so drive ahead of us to our last night’s destination – Sevilla.
We made it out of El Puerto fairly easily, thanks to Mallory’s navigation skills with the iPad. Once I hit the highway, I again began to enjoy driving in Spain – the freeways are really the nicest I’ve ever seen, and the scenery is beautiful. As we pulled into Sevilla, however, I started to tense up again. Driving in foreign cities is still intimidating for me, but we made it to Santa Justa train station and the Hertz car lot none the worse for wear.
Except it wasn’t the Hertz car lot anymore. Where there had been Hertz spaces a week ago, there were none now. I thought perhaps I was losing my mind, but no – we were in the exact spot we had picked up the car a week ago. We finally found an employee of another rental company who told us that Hertz had “moved”, and so we drove around looking for new Hertz spaces that we never found. Finally, in frustration I just parked the car and we walked with our suitcases through a deluge of rain and up about a thousand steps to Santa Justa.
We get inside and find that there is a different car rental company where Hertz used to be. Or where I thought it used to be? I was really starting to wonder what was happening to my brain. I stuck my head inside the door and inquired “Donde Hertz?” and was given some vague directions to go out the door and to the left. Still no Hertz. We finally called the number and found out that they were now located in what was essentially a trailer ACROSS THE STREET from the train station. Of course it was pouring buckets and my cute new wedges got soaked as we hauled our suitcases over to the new Hertz office, but we finally found it. Such relief!
Our relief didn’t last long. We were stuck behind an extremely high-maintenance American couple, asking all manner of stupid questions, and I was wondering if I would ever get to turn the keys in and enjoy our limited time in Sevilla. Finally, a woman came out of an office and helped us, and it didn’t matter that we had parked the car in a space that wasn’t theirs – I think she could sense my frustration at the run-around we had been given – so with a quick signature and drop of the keys, we caught a cab to the Hotel Amadeus located conveniently in the Barrio Santa Cruz.
Walking into the lobby of the hotel provided an immediate sense of relief. Friendly front desk personnel who spoke excellent English, oh and by the way, we had a cancellation so we upgraded your room – for free! Our room was a beautiful retreat – spacious and inviting with a comfy king bed, claw foot tub, and a rain shower, and a ton of space. There was even Mozart playing softly on a CD player when we arrived – perfection! But as tempting as it was to linger, it was already afternoon and we had some shopping and exploring to do.
We set off with a map but without a sense of direction. As such, we spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out how to get to the sights, but we soon set off in what we thought was the right direction. But first, a stop in a little tapas bar for some cervezas and a light lunch. As we ate, the downpour stopped and we continued our exploration.
After shopping at a couple of clothing stores (including Zara, of course!) we stopped at an adorable little spot on the Plaza de San Francisco, where we shared a couple of amazing desserts.
After getting our strength back with the infusion of caffeine and sugar, we tackled the larger sights of the Sevilla Cathedral, the Alcazar, and the Plaza de Toros (bull ring).
Walking around Sevilla, I was extremely sad that we only had one night there. It was tempting to walk around for the rest of the night, but we were getting tired and hungry and so walked back to the Hotel Amadeus to shower up and change for dinner.
After getting cleaned up, we headed for the lovely rooftop bar, where we enjoyed a cheese plate, some cava, and some conversation with an older couple from Canada, and later an older couple from Vermont. Both couples were quirky and cute and interesting to talk to, and we got an excellent tip on dinner from the Canadian couple.
Hunger barely addressed by the cava and cheese, we walked towards Bar Europa for some inventive tapas and a celebratory bottle of – you guessed it – cava! We sat at a sidewalk table since the rain had long since turned to sun, and enjoyed watching Sevillanos and tourists as they strolled by. Our waiter was very friendly and brought us each a glass of dessert wine – on the casa! I could have lingered forever, but we had a 5am wakeup call for our journey back home.
On the short walk back to the hotel, we encountered a group of two dozen or so men, playing guitars and singing in harmony. They were incredibly good, and the atmosphere was electric. I was somewhat mesmerized and could have stood there forever, but we tore ourselves away and headed back to the hotel. The 5am alarm came way too quickly, and we reluctantly packed up the rest of our belongings and headed for the airport. It truly seemed as if our two week adventure was over as soon as it began.