Friday, May 2, 2014

Day 2 -- Walking thru Sevilla

I woke up this morning at the unheard of late hour of 8 am, feeling fully refreshed. I am still feeling good at 6:30 pm, so I think I licked the jet lag problem.

Breakfast in the hotel was really good. It reminded me why I usually gain about 5-7 pounds on these cycling trips, despite all the biking. Oh well, I walked a lot today, and I can always be good tomorrow.

Speaking of walking -- that is about all I did today. I thought of taking one of the hop on/hop off tour buses of the city, but the online reviews were pretty negative (unlike many other cities where I have gotten some great overview introductions to the city), and when I saw the shoulder-to-shoulder crowds on the buses, I decided to just walk. Even though I had a map, this is a difficult city to navigate because of the numerous small streets, with very limited signage. On the other hand, every street is interesting with shops of every variety and lots of good smells emanating from the restaurants and bars.
Teas for sale (one was labeled "Cannabis")

I started by crossing the river to the district of Triana and then recrossing into the main part of Sevilla on the Isabel II bridge, noted for the numerous padlocks affixed to the bridge by lovers who symbolize their commitment by throwing the keys into the Guadalquivir river.
Locks on Isabel II bridge

Closeup of locks

My first stop was the Torre de Oro (Tower of Gold) a small naval museum and tower that you can climb right on the river. Although not on the ocean, Sevilla has quite a maritime tradition because the river is navigable all the way from the sea.

Walking along the river, I cam to the Plaza de Toros (bullfighting arena) where I took the guided tour. My first pleasant surprise is that I was offered the "retiree" rate of reduce admission. Often in my travels I have found that the senior citizen rates only apply to residents of the country. (As an aside, I note that last week I was asked for proof of my age when I asked for the senior rate on the ferry to San Francisco:)). The second pleasant surprise was that I was able to follow the guided tour in Spanish sufficiently well that I did not feel the need to sit through the encore performance in English.
Plaza de Toros

Interior of Museum at Plaza de Toros
I considered touring the large cathedral here in Sevilla, but changed my mind when I saw the huge line waiting to get in. As one might imagine, there are many Catholic churches in this city, and plazas and streets often are named after various saints. I was also surprised to see that many homes and other buildings displayed the palms from Palm Sunday on the exterior of the building, wrapped in a ribbon with the colors of Spain's flag.
Palms on building

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