We cheated and took the train to Seville and, treat of treats, stayed overnight in a hotel, because the journey was quite a long one. We were across a small square from the cathedral, looking at its impressive bell tower. Of course this also meant listening to the hourly clang of bells, but we Mariachi aficionados laugh in the face of such sporadic noise. They are only sounded from nine till dark anyway. A more interesting phenomenon came from the ventilation grid in the en suite, where noise from the street below channelled crystal clear up the pipework.
That said it was a lovely hotel, the people were really helpful, there was a roof terrace bar looking across at the bell tower and our sonic en suite had a bath. Not just an ordinary modern bath, but one of those old enamel long, deep ones. Reader it was wonderful, the first evening I wallowed to the sound of muffled conversations and clop of horses’ hooves. Then, next morning I did it again, just because I could. The early morning noises were crisper with van doors slamming and instructions being called out. But enough of this decadence, I am getting ahead of myself.
As I said we arrived Wednesday morning on the train and took a taxi to the hotel. This was a smart move as the streets in the old part are as much of a maze as the ones in Cadiz, but here the buildings we passed were painted in gorgeous earth
tones. Our hotel was right in the tourist cut and thrust, with horse drawn buggies nose to tail all around the cathedral. We had arrived just after a major downpour and all the buggies were covered over and the horses being rubbed down. It was too early to check in, but they stowed our bag and we set off for second breakfast. Churros and with hot chocolate thick enough to cut from a corner bar just across from the hotel. And you thought the bath was an indulgence. On a sugar high we decided to visit the cathedral and walked round to the front of it. The queue was horrific, so we thought again and had a wander down to the river, spurning offers from the miraculously dry carriage men and being stamped at by a white horse. The river is navigable to boats such as Lyra as far up as Seville. We cast our eyes to right and left and decided it was as well we had taken the train.
By the time we had sauntered back we were able to check in and then it was time for lunch, such a hard day. Rather than go back to the same place we went to one two doors along and it was so good we went back again next day and ordered the fried mixed fish again and they were different both times. Fresh each day as the waiter had vouched. Though we were glad that both times included fresh anchovies in a minted batter. The use of mint in this region is inspiring.
After lunch we thought to go on a boat trip, but rounding the cathedral noticed a paucity of queue, so in we ventured. This is purported to be the third largest cathedral in the world and the biggest in the Christian world, which had us thinking. Christopher Columbus is entombed here, his effigy born aloft by four extras from the original Blackadder series. There is also a suspended wooden crocodile, they call a lizard, in a cloister. Other than that it’s pretty much a standard cathedral until you pass the crocodile and enter the Islamic courtyard, which is so lovely the church kept it when they converted the existing mosque into a cathedral. They also kept the minaret, just knocking off the top third and adding bells. In the courtyard are orange trees and fountains set amidst a tiled pattern of rills, which must have been lovely filled with water. It was still lovely and we sat in an alcove for a while.
Then off we set for the river and as chance would have it a trip on a boat shaped like a breeze block was just about to start. We stood watching the previous tour arrive back, trying to decide whether to go inside or up onto the roof. John felt the clouds were ominous, but the roof did have a tarpaulin cover and inside did look like a geriatric dance floor, with plastic garden chairs balanced in odd groups around it. So we opted for upstairs, had great views of the various bridges, one by Eiffel, who clearly did a lot of work around here, and saw the marina we could have stayed in. As we docked the deluge started. On the upper deck we all moved to the centre, well under the tarpaulin. The haunting strains of the Macarena emanated from the deck below. The tarpaulin above us was perforated with regular holes, clearly designed to stop rain from pooling in the canopy. The result of this was spouts of water flowing randomly from above on those huddled below. Children love that sort of danger of wetness and indeed seem to covet it, dancing through erratic fountains, splashing in puddles. We cowered, dodged and giggled. The boat docked and I made a rush down the stairway and along the gangplank, while those below were distracted by Y Viva Espana. John joined me on the dock and we raced for cover under a nearby tree. Once there we discovered ourselves in the company of two youths with a motorbike, a couple of workmen and a large dog. The dog and the bike had the driest spaces. We all stood, not conversing till the rain lulled, when John and I left. Of the rest of the boat trip there was not a trace, though I think McDonalds on the wharf did a roaring trade.
Once the rain had stopped we had another go at finding a shop dealing with mobile internet. We followed John’s phone, but kept needing to top up the data roaming and each time we did the Vodaphone shop seemed to move away from us. Frustrated and with the clouds still looking threatening we gave up and headed back to the hotel, cutting the corner through a warren of small streets. This proved delightful; we were afforded glimpses into shady courtyard gardens and intimate looking restaurants. Every so often we would come into a quiet square, full of flowers and shaded by fruiting orange trees until miraculously we emerged right alongside our hotel. We resolved to go back that way for supper. That was us, Seville day one, bath one.