Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Seville, Spain

Seville, Spain
Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The ship offered a bus shuttle to Seville, and I took that, not wanting to go on an organized tour. This was a bus that simply dropped everyone off at a specific location and then took us back to the ship at the end of the day. Seville was about one and one-half hours from the ship, and the pick-up time was 3:00 p.m., so I had time to visit only the two most important sights -- the Alcazar and the Cathedral of Seville. These two sights are directly across from each other, and only a short walk from the bus stop.

The drive to Seville took us through rolling hills of dark, fertile farmland. The crops were still early in the season, and the young shoots were very pretty against the dark soil. The climate is dry, and the irrigation sprinklers filled the fields with little sprays of water. We also passed several other interesting sights -- a group of giant windmills generating electricity, a old Roman viaduct, a huge cathedral on a hill in a very small town. We also saw many stork nests; storks come to this area in the Spring to raise their young (as they also did along the road to Tetouan in Morocco). I tried to get photos out the bus window, but was not very successful.

Seville was controlled by the Moors of Spain for many centuries, and the Moorish influence is very clear in the buildings. The Alcazar was designed as a Moorish fortress in 913 and rebuilt as a palace much later after the Christians gained power. It is a huge building with endless rooms and gardens, each of which were more beautiful than the one before. One simply cannot describe the beauty of each room, courtyard, garden. The beauty is truly stunning. I was there almost two hours, but then had to leave in order to see the cathedral.

I paused for some ice cream at a sidewalk café on a very narrow, pretty street filled with sidewalk cafes and souvenir shops. In the shade, the temperature was very nice, although it was hot in the direct sun. I enjoyed the break, and then headed for the cathedral.

The Cathedral of Seville is 15th century Gothic, and Europe’s third largest cathedral. The guide on the bus said that it is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. The cathedral was built on the site of a mosque, and the tall minaret is still used as the bell tower for the church. Many people climbed the tower and were shocked by the deafening noise when the dozens of huge bells rang. The cathedral is huge and ornate, and one can get a full description of it on the Internet. I was there the remainder of my time until the cathedral closed at 2:30, when I hurried back to the bus just before 3:00 for the uneventful ride back to the ship. When we arrived back in Cadiz, we were surprised by dense fog, producing eerie sights. Later, the ship faced almost complete loss of vision as it eased out of the port in the fog on its way to Lisbon.

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