Thursday, June 13, 2013

12 Jun 13 – Day 6 (Seville)

Today we left Granada to travel to the south of Spain to Seville. Had one rest stop where I bought a small bottle of Malaga wine and another glass bottle of olive oil for €3.50 since this was a slightly bigger bottle at the same price as what I had paid for in Montserrat. We got to Seville in the afternoon, checked in to Novotel before going out for lunch. We were told that there was a shopping mall at the corner of the hotel and so Kim and I walked over to look for food. The shopping mall is called Nervión Plaza with two levels and shaped like a “U”. Entered the mall in one corner and there were mostly shops selling clothes. Got to the other side and that was where the restaurants are. We couldn't decide what to eat and I didn't want any Asian food.

So we popped into one of the Spanish restaurants that sell tapas. Fortunately the boss knew how to speak a little English and he started recommending the food. I was a white meat person and so went for the fish dish that he recommended thinking it was a main course from a menu. Kim was more of a red meat person and ordered from the tapas menu. We both knew that tapas means small dishes and so we had the impression that the small dish would be the similar portion as those presented in Korean meals. The boss was afraid that we couldn't understand him and he brought us to the front of the counter to show us the food. In the end, Kim ordered one with chicken, one with pork and one with potatoes.

Waited for our food and soon they came. It turned out that our food came in the same size portion and they were not exactly small dishes nor big as main course. We took photos of our yummy food before digging in. The fish tapas that I was recommended was pretty good with the fish having quite a good texture. After I was done with mine, took some of Kim’s food to taste. The potato dish was good because the sauce was made using salmon. While we were eating, we saw the Sim family of four sitting outside the restaurant trying to place their order with one of the non-English speaking staff. It seems that it took them quite long to finally place their orders. Paid the bill and then we went to shop around Nervion Plaza.

Returned to the hotel to meet up with the rest to leave for our city tour. Our local guide is called Ms America, ironic. Our first stop was to the Plaza de Espana. It was a very big place with many tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. It also has a nice fountain named the Vicente Traver fountain and many other impressive buildings. Over there, we saw some street vendors paddling their ware such as the wooden clappers and hand fans used in the Flamenco Dance. We spent some time in the Plaza de Espana taking photos before going on to visit the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a former Jewish quarter. There were a lot of small alleys with interesting shops and cafes and I think it would be really nice to hang around or laze in one of the café to enjoy the lazy afternoon. Unfortunately, we didn't have the time and I think I would probably get lost in the quarter. Then we were given some time for toilet break in one of the small square in Santa Cruz, so I bought a small hand fan and a magnet from one of the souvenir shops. Kim was tempted to get the Flamenco shawl which comes in different sizes. Given the price and workmanship, actually it was worth considering. I was tempted myself, however, the rational side got the better of me and I abandoned the idea.

From one of the many small alleys, we came out to Plaza del Triunfo, where we saw more buildings such as Casa de la Provincia, the Giralda, the General Archive of the Indies and others. There were also horse carriages to bring tourists around. From the Plaza, we headed on to the Seville Cathedral, which is largest Gothic cathedral in the world and has 80 chapels. We were shown only a few main ones, the big boxlike choir loft as well as the Tomb of Columbus. The tomb somewhat reminds me of Lord of the Ring, maybe because it was carried by the four kings of Castile, Leon, Aragon and Navarre. The Giralda is just beside the Cathedral but it was under maintenance so we were not able to climb and we didn't get a good photo of it because it was partially covered. Coming out from the Cathedral, we saw some drain-like things on the ground and Ms America explained that because the Cathedral was actually built on a Muslim mosque structure. In the past, Muslims had to wash their hands and feet before entering the mosque hence those drains.

Ended the city tour and it was time to proceed on to the venue for the Flamenco Dance show. As we could only go inside the theater at 6:30pm, we were told to walk around the neighborhood to kill time. But the weather was really unbearable at about 41 degree Celsius, so most if not all of us, went into the nearby supermarket to kill time instead. We only left the supermarket when we saw Nancee making payment at the cashier. While waiting for Nancee at the entrance of the theater, another group of tourists entered the theater so they managed to get the two front rows with tables and good view while we had to settle for the rows at the back. There was another section that is nearer to the stage with no tables and really good views but we were not allocated those because ours include dinner.

The staff from the theater went around taking photos for the guests on each table and I knew that they were likely to sell those back to the guests at a cost. Soon starter came and it was prawn salad. Shortly after the show started and I was busy trying to film some video clips knowing that my camera would have problem capturing moving objects in dark settings. The position that I was at was not ideal because I was either constantly blocked by the big guy on the front row or by moving waitresses. Then main course came and it was roast chicken. Fortunately the chicken was very tender and I was able to tear the meat from the bones easily with fork and knife. I gobbled up my food quickly so that I had more time to do the filming. The dancers were really good and some were really impressive with their footwork. The ladies performed in colorful Flamenco dresses with props such as wooden clappers, hand fans, shawls, walking sticks and so on. Then dessert came and I also gobbled that down. Towards the end of the show, I tried to take some photos and out of the many, only a handful was viewable while the rest were just a blur mess.

Video Clip on Flamenco Dance

After the show ended, we were herded off to the outside of the theater and onto the waiting coach. Along the way, I actually saw a table displaying merchandises such as hand fans; shawls and photos taken earlier before the show. It was really a pity that we had to hurry back to the coach because the driver couldn’t do OT. I was hoping to browse through the merchandises and maybe make a purchase.

Thoughts: Seville was a very lively place and I liked the hotel that we stayed in because it was near to shops and restaurants. Finally I got to eat tapas and I got to say, that was the best meal I had so far other than those at the rest stops. 

Amongst the places we visited today, I like the cathedral the best because it was big and has a lot of chapels. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see all of them and also we didn't get to see much of those introduced in details. Flamenco Dance show was good but would have been better if we were given good seats. Kim and I agreed that we could have done away with the dinner and be seated in the front rows with good views. My impression of the Flamenco Dance was just female dancers dancing with wooden clappers and shawls; I didn't know that there were hand fans and walking sticks too.

Hopefully I can go back to Seville for visit again.

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