One last night in Spain

Just spoke to Anjali while sitting sipping beer and listening to great old time music being played in the plaza under the floodlit Walls of the Alhambra … With a moon shining down. What does one do with so much overload?

Just figuring that I think romance is a soul thing, not necessarily a sharing thing. This night was so full of romance, it was soul searing and utterly beautiful, but you know what came to mind? I could not think of wanting to, actually, share it with anyone. Because it was so perfect to me, it may not be so for another and that would so take away from it.

I sat watching people walking up and down, across from me the plaza was full, the fountain sparkled, and beyond the river was a forested hill crowned with the food lit castle. There was a man with a guitar, another with a harmonica and one with a violin, they played besame mucho, the lambada and so many other remembered oldies. I sat there with a grin and a Jerez amontillado. Finally decided – ok enough already, let’s go home and sleep, so started walking away, just before I was to leave the plaza turned one last time and what do I see but the moon behind me shining on this whole vista, so I just sat on the parapet and soaked it all in some more, the breeze, the sound of the water, the music and the magic of the night.

I truly sat there thinking: who is the one person that I have known in my life that I could/would have  wanted to share this with. Honestly, not a one who would have enriched this more than it was. Yes for sure one of you, my old langotias or my girls would have shared it and savoured, but as in, would someone to be with have made this more, no.

Ladies, my bestest friends in the world, I missed you, a trip like this around one of these countries begs to be done with us. 

Advertisements

Alhambra

>

>
>>
> Federico Garcia Lorca’s stories danced by Eva Yerbabuena :a flamenco ballet in the gardens of the Generalife, under a full moon! No pictures allowed, but picture it! >
> Preceded by dinner on the banks of the river under the Walls of the Alhambra. >
> It is now 00.30 hrs, I have just walked home on a cloud, through throngs of people still out partying in the streets. >
> Sitting on the terrace, this amazingly lit Alhambra in the foreground, with the city lights a twinkling backdrop. >
> Cold beer and moonlight. The most romantic evenings are best spent alone. Can you imagine if something were to ruin this…. A petty squabble or one feeling sleepy and the other bereft… Ufff. >
>>
>>

>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> Sent from my Iphone

Granada

Fields of sunflowers and groves of olives all the way from Sevilla to Granada. I have arrived in the middle of the siesta, a truly serious matter here in Spain. everything, but everything is shut till about 6 in the evening.

It seems like an amazing city, just this minute I think I have made a mistake in the place I chose to stay. It’s marvellous, up at the top of the Albaicin area and the whole city spreads out below, it’s rooms in the caves, so rather fantastic, but it is a walk to anywhere. However, I shall wait and see. My room is charming, the bathroom seems adequate, the owner is warm and friendly. At the most I will lose some weight walking up and down the hills!

Ok, found a bus to the Alhambra, got a ticket for a show tomorrow night, should be good, found my way to the Plaza Nueva and found a little hotel right here which I have booked for my last night. Found the perfect bar, la gran taverna, great tapas and they speak English!

The walk back up to the Albaicin house was so not fun and I was hugely fed up with myself and the lady of the house. Who, by the way, spent half the afternoon telling me the story of her life. What is it that makes people think I will be sympathetic to listening to their woes? She has two almost grown children, a husband who she has left because he was a no good, irresponsible, violent man. She has bought this house at the end of the last street at the top of the Albaicin area of the caves. She has done a rather good job of putting it together, but is totally unprofessional about the services. Woe and stress, and I am honestly sympathetic, but really I do not want the woes of the world.

Maybe I just expect too much, no where seems to give the kind of service I think is normal or rather the kind that we do provide at home. Anyhow all that it led to was a badly slept night trying to figure if I should just up and find another place or make a noise and ask for a refund?

However the morning was lovely, met this very nice Czech girl also staying where I am. Went walking down into the little streets out onto the lovely terrace of the cathedral, with amazing views over the city. As always there is music in every square and markets and just the usual charming Spanish lifestyle. So everything feeling a whole heap better. The area is really quite lovely and the walk not as much as it seemed last night, so shall stay and see how it all develops.

This is one city that gives you tapas free with drinks so you end up eating a meal while paying for drinks. I like it.

La Plaza Nueva

Views from my controversial living establishment!


music in the plaza.

Sent from my Iphone

Of Cardinals, Kings and Toreros

La giralda, one of the largest cathedrals of the world, right up there with St. Peters in Rome and St. Pauls in London. Such an amazing structure, incorporates parts of an old mosque, it is Gothic and Moorish, all mixed up like every thing else in this city. I have been circling the outside everyday and being amazed. Today I went in to see what there was to see. It is grand and has the usual bloody history of cardinals and kings. Rich, rich in every corner, large, imposing and though an amazing structure it did not have the peace of a church, the Walls and stones were too steeped in gore and stories. Who ruled? Kings or Cardinals, it was a thin line of power, there where wheels within wheels, whispers, betrayals and Conspiracies. I wish the walls could tell. Guides have such a rote story that I never listen, one has to be very lucky to find one who actually knows the history and not one who has just learnt up the regular babble to spout forth.

There is romance and history and so many stories, some I know and more to be read at leisure and put in perspective now that I have seen the sites.

I was then on my way to the river and the bus stand to buy my ticket for tomorrow, but everything is so on top of each other and I just get so lucky that I found myself at the plaza de Los Torros. La Maestranza in Sevilla, Is the oldest bullring which was first used for bullfighting in 1765.

Though I don’t think I ever could watch a bull fight, it is such a huge tradition here that I had to go see where and how it happens. So, to see again… The guide was a young girl whose English sounded distinctly Spanish, I actually understood her Spanish better than the English!

A tradition that emerged to keep soldiers busy when they were not at war. Right up alongside jousts and hunts along came the bull fight. Did you know that if a bull ( that poor beset animal, that is hounded and poked half to death before ever the toreador gets to him) actually kills the man, the bull is then killed and his head is mounted, not only his, but also his mother’s because she bred a killer!

On entering that ring I can see how it would truly be a spectacle to observe, with the colour, pomp and show. However I will give it a miss, would probably sit there weeping my eyes out like Malu’s Kanika. That it is an art form, I do not doubt, that the toreador has to be an artist trained and brave, too is a reality, however who talks about the bravery off that poor animal, his bewilderment and agony? Somehow it is not man that emerges larger here, the torero has help, that bull is alone in the field with a million men yelling all around him and stupid men on prancing horses poking and prodding at him. By the time that prouncing, dancing man gets there the poor animal is hugely beset and quite lost, what chances? What sport? Cannot see!

I did eventually get to the bus station and was very glad that I had not left it for tomorrow, such long queues, would have miscalculated for sure and missed the bus!

Honestly necessary to beware of pick pockets and what here they call the Romanies, and we the gypsies. They look like us – unfortunately – foreign us, if that makes any sense. Like every pinch faced person you would avoid at any of our big city stations.

I walk miles in this city, in the heat, and then I do the good Spanish thing and go up to my air-conditioned, little room and have a siesta. I should actually have it like myriad others under an orange tree ‘en alguna plaza’, but somewhere I have to draw the line between a teenage backpacking fantasy and my real, today self. The air-conditioning is most welcome.

This evening I got nice and lost for about half an hour trying to find another of the recommended tapas bars in la plaza de Los terceros. Have become so familiar with the little pedestrian streets that when I hit equally little, trafficked ones, I got lost. Just being amazed that cars could actually drive through.

However all these lovely people here soon had me walking straight and right into exactly where I wanted to be, sitting under orange trees in a tiny square, drinking great Sangria and eating delicious Tapas at a bar called La Huerta, they specialise in veg tapas, a delightful oxymoron. Recommended: Pavia de bacalao, a fried cod and Quiche de Puerros, leak quiche, also Queso con marmalade de pimientos rojos.

Got home early. The square in front of the hotel is one that I had not sat in and wanted to from the first day here. However there is so much to see and discover in this city that it is necessary to wander. I am here now, there are lovely tiled benches all around, the lit up tower of La Giralda peeps above one corner, more orange trees and the typical little fountain. How utterly charming does it get? I guess this is what people travel the world for, the charms that we discover.

There are a number of restaurants that share space on the square and it all seems to work effortlessly. A tiny bodega in the corner has only two tables but the kids who work in there are charming and have become friends – telling me where to go and what to see. The waiters in my hotel are friends too and sneak me beers while I sit here writing to tell you all my news.

I am going to miss this place. I am either too easy to please or else I am finding the most amazing people and places, either way, what a blessing.

1

2

3

4

Flamenco y tapas

The expert Sevillano! I am it, have discovered all the magical bits of this city. The Plaza Santa Cruz has a very good Flamenco show at Los Gallos. They have two shows one at 20.00 hrs and the other at 22.00 hrs. A good troupe of dancers and singers, not cheap but you get a drink included so I sat there loving every minute of it and drinking an extremely tall glass of Sangria.

After, I found all the best bodegas in Santa Cruz, it was like they just appeared around the corner. Bar la Estrella, Bar las Teresas and Bar la Columna. Jerez Amontillado in the first and a solomillo whisky (pork loin cooked in brandy or whisky). Another Sangria in the next with some amazing camembert frito – (fried camembert with raspberry jam).

I thought I was heading home after, but first I saw a lovely store that sold only white cotton clothes, I have acquired a dress and a shirt that I do not need, but wanted so much. Then I was finally headed home when I walked past La Columna, rocking, but I had no money and you can’t buy one tiny drink and a tapa on the card. So I thought …This is going to be one of those few things that Maya said to leave behind!

Turned the corner and saw La Giralda lighting up the sky and knew that the ATM was somewhere close by…. Another walk around the magically lit monuments into the busy street – directly to the ATM ( across from the tram stop) and ‘ hombre que si’ I was ready to hit the next bar.

A beer at la Columna with flamenquin (pork wrapped in ham and filled with cheese then deep fried.)

Wondering when I turned into a foody? When I walk and walk and get hungry. Remember these are only tapas so I am doing very well. That was a three course dinner, as far as I was concerned, nicely spaced out.

The señor was locking up the door to the hotel when I slid in.

Sent from my iPad

Alcazar de Sevilla

A morning wandering the halls, and gardens of the Alcazar palace. It’s much like the Mughal architecture at home, with mixtures of Gothic, the gardens and water ways are pure Mughal, Moorish, whatever we term it!

Streets have orange trees growing along them, a guitarist sat playing beautifully in the plaza de Los Reyes. Artists had set up around the square. All in all just another great day in Spain.

Sent from my iPad

Sevilla

Today I took a bus from San Feliu to Barcelona, and am now on the Ave, or the super fast train to Sevilla. It is a wonder to me how anyone who does not speak Spanish manages to travel here. I have met about 3 persons who speak a smattering of English and no others.

I would have been lost indeed if my Castellano was not returning in leaps and bounds.

This train ride is taking me virtually all across Spain and is wonderful. We passed Tarragona and Zaragossa, then we rode through a wilderness of mountains with tiny villages and are now in the plateau beyond. An old hacienda and then a modern installation, fields and hills and all of it sort of reminiscent of India – in terms of topography, but distinctly Spanish too. Am so glad I chose not to fly.

! I am in Sevilla! I found a lady taxista, who gave me a constant run down of all the places we were passing and also told me that the hotel I have chosen is a long walk from anywhere that a car might take me. Thank the stars for the Ryan Air, 10 kg restriction!

However she ended up dropping me closer than I thought. I had to walk down cobbled streets narrower than any in Chandni Chowk with music pouring out of every second door because it is a bar, bodega, restaurant or hotel. Past plazas with quaint fountains, only two actually, full of people sitting at candlelit tables. Then I walk down a tiny, tiny alley, seems like a dead end..it opens into a lovely plaza, lots of shady trees ringed with Casa de doña Elvira, bodega de no se qual and there at one end is another minuscule alley called calle Gloria, and down that is La Casa de Dona Lina, which is where I am staying. There is a courtyard with tables, stairs going up one side with two rooms off each floor all looking down into the courtyard. I have a tiny room with a very sufficient bathroom and air-conditioning that is trying to work. The temperature is about 40 degrees but it is all totally enchanting. Can’t believe how lucky I got finding this tiny corner.

Have had a lovely late dinner sitting in the square. Walked down another little alley to discover myself at the Alcazar. Victorias clip clipping around the square, magically lit up fairy tale buildings. Indescribable!