Saturday, 20 September 2014

Spanish Surprise...

 Most happily-partnered people believe that their other half is nigh-on perfect...and I am no exception. My faith was more than justified last weekend when I was whisked away for a surprise 3 night break in....
 Seville!
 I was told nothing...except that it would be hot, and that I'd need my passport....SO exciting! I didn't know our destination until we looked up at the departure screen at the airport, but it's somewhere we've both wanted to explore for a while...
 We stayed in a gorgeous, small townhouse bed & breakfast in the heart of the old Jewish quarter...with streets so narrow that the tops of the houses either side almost touched across them...
 ...just 6 rooms were arranged over 3 floors around a central atrium...with a roof terrace bathed in sunshine...
 ...such a calm and cool place...I sat in this chair to write on the Sunday morning...Mozart's 2nd Horn Concerto floated through the open french doors from somewhere further down the street...could it have been any more perfect?!
Seville is right at the heart of Andalucian flamenco country...some of the outfits were amazing! I even spotted a shop selling special Flamenco underwear - I guess to help smooth the way into these figure huggers! It's also a very religious area...a few streets near the cathedral were full of shops competing for the papal euros!
Another thing that Spain - and Andalucia in particular - is famous for, is bullfighting. Thankfully, this hideously cruel and archaic practise is now outlawed in the province of Catalunya...and I can only hope that this is extended throughout the country in the near future. There were many bars that we avoided as they were decorated with the severed heads of these majestic and beautiful creatures. It may be traditional, but then so was bear-baiting and burning witches at the stake once! So, instead of photographing anything to do with the real thing, I found this rather lovely and comical fibreglass version peeking out of a t-shirt shop...
Southern Spain and its architecture is so heavily influenced by the Moors who once occupied this area...and what an amazing legacy they left...the colours are gorgeous...there is a particular deep blue that I always associate with this place...
...and as contemporary as it gets, Las Setas de Sevilla (setas are mushrooms - you'll see why!) is a brand new construction (it's actually made of wood!) that sits in a formerly run down part of the city and houses the fruit & vegetable market...
 
You can take a lift to the top, where there is a walkway all the way around with amazing views over the city and a great terrace to enjoy a drink while taking in the scenery...

We loved the juxtaposition of very old with very new....but, naturally, our favourite places were the many bars and restaurants....the tapas culture is an appealing one! You find a bar, order a drink and a tiny plate or two of delicious food...spinach with chickpeas and (very) garlicky prawns were two favourites...very reasonable prices too! They are popular with all sorts of people...the Spanish love children and they are used to eating out from an early age. Then you move on, and do it all again!
It's usually cheaper to eat sitting up at the bar, perched on a stool...there is an extra charge for table service. But it's much more fun to stand in a crowd, elbow to elbow, trying to attract the waiter's attention! The picture below was probably our favourite 'haunt' of the weekend...an hour before this was taken, it was absolutely heaving with people...
...see the legs of 'jamon iberico' (Iberican ham, from free-range pigs who graze on acorns) hanging from the ceiling? Ubiquitous all over Spain...
The images I will take home are of colour and pattern...beautifully decorated tiles and woven textiles...


...everywhere you look! Even the walls of the many, many churches are decorated with lavishly painted tableaux...

...my other memory will be of the heat. Bearable but intense. Siesta never seemed such a good idea! There is a whiteness to the sun's glare in the middle of the day that is unmatched anywhere I've been before, except perhaps Australia...
...and walking home late at night, arm in arm, with a salted caramel ice cream slowly melting in my hand...the velvet darkness chirping with cicadas...the streets lined with citron trees, heavy with fragrant fruits...feeling so lucky and happy...

Good memories....and a very special weekend.

I hope you are having fun today, wherever you are! xx

11 comments:

  1. Thank you for taking us along..a sensory delight! Looks like a successful surprise on many levels. Beautiful!

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  2. How romantic, Rachel! Lovely beauty all around to fill the senses. How interesting Las Setas De Sevilla--So intricately designed. Thanks for giving us a peek! ♥

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  3. Gosh, Rachel, I can feel the heat just rising out of those atmospheric photographs. The Moors certainly knew what they were doing with their court yards and fountains! thank you for sharing them!

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  4. Oh, Seville is the one Spanish city I want to visit! Lucky you! For me, it is mainly three operas: Carmen, Le Nozze di Figaro and Don Giovanni. I saw Don Giovanni last weekend, fittingly enough.

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  5. Ooooo, that was fun! I could almost taste it Rachel! Thank you so much for sharing it! Love you xoxo Kisses to Mr. Perfection.

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  6. Thank you so much for sharing your weekend away in sensational Seville, it looks absolutely stunning!
    Seville was already on my wanderlust list, but after reading your beautiful writing, it is now in my top 10!
    Well done Paul, you are fabulous! xxx

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  7. How wonderful to awake to this delightful stroll through an enchanting city! And for the big "scoop" of culture along with the salted caramel ice cream! The entire weekend sounded dreamy! What a darling man!! Thank you so much for taking us along! xoxo

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  8. Luscious surprise for you from yours! How awesome; it's obvious you had a glorious weekend. Thank you for sharing! Have a blessed week ...

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  9. Oh Rachel! How incredibly romantic to be whisked away to Spain by your beloved! Your pictures are lovely; Seville looks like an enchanting city. I would love to sample the delicious tapas menus there. Paul is a sweetheart! So glad you had a glorious time! Thank you for sharing your adventure with us. Love and hugs..xx

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  10. What a wonderful surprise for you! And I love the way you describe it, as the old with the new.
    You know that white glare that you describe? That sounds like summer in Georgia! :-)

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  11. What a treat!! Daniel and I made it to Spain early this year, but because we didn't have a lot of time (only 10 days), we spent some of that in Barcelona and some in Madrid. We loved it! Way more than we thought we would. We loved the people, the tapas culture, the relaxed atmosphere and of course the architecture and art. We had perfect weather the entire time, not too hot or too cold. And we are ready to go back!! Thanks for sharing!! xo Silke

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