On Friday, the first of September, I rented a car for me, Stella and our family of suitcases and drove from Barcelona to Seville, while Brook, Ibby, Mimi and Benji took the AVE train. I left at 9 AM and their train departed at 4 PM. We all reunited at the Santa Justa train station in Seville at 9:15 PM, after I dropped by our temporary apartment on Calle Miguel Cid and offloaded the luggage and dog.
And now, eight days later, here we are. Hanging out in our new neighborhood of San Lorenzo, walking around the Casco Viejo (the large old medieval city, of which San Lorenzo is a part), doing some back-to-school shopping, drinking wine and eating olives. OK those last two are mostly just me, but a glass of wine at the bar is cheaper than a bottle of water, so we may all be wine drinkers soon.
What I Like So Far: the tiny, meandering streets from the Middle Ages, paved with cobblestones and with white or burnt-umber walls; the way people appear in the cool of the evening to stand around and talk; the locks on the bathroom doors in our apartment. And day drinking. Yesterday I went out for lunch around 12:30 at a cafe near my “office” (the co-working space where I’ve rented a desk) and there were three 80-year old women drinking beer and eating fried sardines at the metal-topped bar. Awesome.
Oh, and also the local markets. Brook and I both love those. There are “fruiterias” every block or so, with tasty fruit and vegetables. And small local “panaderias” and small local butcher or fish shops. It took us a few days to realize that’s where most people do their grocery shopping. The supermercados, which would be our natural habitat as Americans, have mostly packaged and processed foods, as well as an extensive selection of wine.
Each neighborhood also has its own large market building, with a collection of stalls selling fruit, vegetables, meats, fish or prepared food. The pictures below are from just outside the Feria market. We walked by this one today, situated hard up against the church Omnium Sanctorum and the Palacio Marqueses de la Algaba. The stalls were closing down for siesta, but there were lots of people outside sitting, drinking and talking.
What does Benji like best? The fact that boys his age are playing soccer in the squares and parks and plazas. And that when he walks up and says “Puedo jugar?” they say “Si!” And there’s even a song from a cartoon show called “Benji and Oliver” that they will sing to him, about a boy named Benji who is obsessed with soccer. Here he is in Plaza Christo de Burgos, being given some gentle guidance by a new 10-year old friend.
For Ibby and Mimi, it’s more complicated. Mimi found that some of the local advice mirrored the advice she carried with her, which hopefully she will one day adopt as her own. Ibby, Mimi and Benji like feeding the pigeons in the plaza near our house, stopping for gelato when we are exploring the city, playing cards at night at home or when we go out for dinner. And we’ve all identified the moped brands we like. Ibby and Mimi should be driving soon.
This morning we met the lovely Orna and Misha (an American and Russian couple who have lived here for 20 years, introduced to us by Sarah Smith, who was introduced to us by Mercedes Herrero — thanks Facebook!) at the ornate and heavily-tiled Hotel Alfonso XIII, then walked past the University of Seville and up the edge of the Parque de Maria Luisa, where we stopped for breakfast of coffee, juice and toasted bread with tomatoes. Then we scooted off to see an apartment near the main Seville cathedral.
The cathedral was built by men who (according to local tradition) said, when they started in 1401, “Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad.” It replaced the Hagia Sophia as the largest cathedral in the world, and is still the 3rd largest church in the world. A picture of one gate to the grounds is below.
We haven’t actually gone IN the cathedral yet. The crowds of tourists are still large and there are lines. We’ll visit when it’s cooler, after school starts. So for that reason, I am including random and unrelated pictures: the town hall on the Plaza Nueva, a bridge across the river and — very oddly — a fragment of the Berlin Wall given to the city in 1992 for the World Expo, and now housed at the local amusement park, Isla Magica.
We haven’t found an apartment yet either. The apartment today was in an old “palacio,” but on the ground floor and with two bedrooms actually below ground level. One beautiful place with a large roof terrace and a modern kitchen would not accept pets (“No se admiten mascotas”). One old 10-room hotel on a tiny street deep in the Casco Viejo was snapped up in less than 12 hours. The 3+ bedroom places go fast! But we have a few weeks still to look: we’ll be here on Calle Miguel Cid until September 30. Vamos a ver! And in the meantime: ripe figs!