5 days in Andalucia: Part III (Days 3-5: 2 days in Seville and 1 day in Málaga)

18 Sep

Day 3 of the trip was the first of two days in Seville.

Don’t you just love when you get back to back hotels that are awesome? I arrived at Hotel Amadeus La Musica in Seville in Barrio Santa Cruz (the best barrio to stay in if you want to be close to the sights and fun narrow streets you can get lost in), and the staff could not have been sweeter. I booked the only room on the third and top floor and it was perfect, although anyone visiting should note that the elevator only goes to the second floor and from there it is 2 flights of steps up to the third floor.

Thank goodness I packed rather lightly for me and so I made the ascent quite easily. The elevator to the second floor was fun as it was glass and you could see all the Amadeus and period piece decorations and furniture on each floor. I should mention that hotel only has something like 11 rooms and each has a theme.

I arrived at my cute and very spacious room with classical music playing and the A/C already on a very good temperature. It was about 95 degrees outside when I arrived, so I appreciated the thoughtfulness in having the room comfortable. I walked up to the rooftop bar (above me) where there was a jacuzzi (handy only in the winter, I’m sure) and a smiling bartender. Cute, all very cute!

Here’s a pic of my hotel in the narrow, pedestrian-only street:

I decided to take a quick nap in my king bed because it was plush and I could. Also, it was time to wait out the heat of midday and journey out afterwards.

After my nap, I decided to walk the old quarter, which I was staying in and it was sooo cute (I was thinking everything was “cute” at this point). Like Córdoba, Seville’s old quarter is comprised of very narrow streets, many of which are pedestrian-only, and the building color of choice is a yellowish-gold. See below for an example.

I walked over to see the outside of the cathedral (yep, I’m on a cathedral tear) and the outside of the alcázar (king and queen castle). One view of the outside of the cathedral is the feature pic. Below is a picture of a lovely friend I met outside the cathedral.

After casing the 2 destinations I would do more exploration of the following day, I stopped for some lemon gelato and headed toward the river for a walk. Well, the walk along the river is super noisy, since it’s a major thoroughfare for cars, so it wasn’t that great. But, I got to see the other side of the river, which is the less touristy side.

Seville is a city of nearly 1 million people, so it’s not small. And, you can tell when you’re out and about. I have to say that I didn’t love it as much as I loved Córdoba. In large part, I think it’s because of the size, but I also think it’s because there were so many tourists, including me! Of course, I’ve been spoiled in many of the places I’ve visited to have them seem very quaint and be there just for me – ha! And, if a city is going to be huge, it better be Barcelona, which of course is my favorite big city.

Anyway, it was time for some tapas. I went to a bar recommended by the hotel and I had 3 tapas: 1) an octopus and potato salad which I did not like at all because the octopus and potato were all mushed together in mayonnaise and I only like mayonnaise when I or C make it with fresh eggs, olive oil, Dijon mustard and lemon; 2) a panko (Japanese bread crumb) battered and fried chicken breast filet with basil oil – very decent and an excellent value at 1 euro; and 3) the bomb of fresh made pasta: 2 gigantic raviolis stuffed with pine nuts, raisins and morrell mushrooms, in a light cream, Pedro Jimenez sauce. Wow, those 6 bites knocked my socks off. I will be trying to repeat that pasta recipe at home.

I asked what the bartender recommended for a drink on this very hot summer night and he suggested “vino tinto de verano”, which translates into red wine of summer. Sure, I love red wine! Well, this is not really red wine. It’s red wine mixed with lemon soda – a sort of quick sangria. But, somehow it worked. With lots of ice and the dry red wine to counteract the sweet lemon soda… yummm.

That’s how I ended day 1.

Day 4 of the trip was the second day in Sevilla.

I started out early on Day 2 because I knew the thousands of tourists and me were going to descend upon the cathedral and the alcazar by 10:00 a.m. So, I ordered breakfast to be brought to my patio. It was lovely. For 9 euros, you get fresh squeezed oj, a plate of manchego cheese and tomatoes, a croissant, 2 min-baguettes, a slice of yummy sugary pound cake, fresh jam (2 types), butter, olive oil, and your choice of tea or coffee delivered to your door in 15 minutes.

I was out the door by 8:45 a.m. and on my way to the cathedral. I am soooo glad I went early. I arrived at the cathedral and I didn’t know that there was more than one entrance open, so I just went into the one I was closest to. I didn’t pay and there was a service just starting. I pulled out my camera and started snapping pictures and in 10 minutes, ropes started going up around me. I didn’t really notice until I started seeing all of the other tourists being shooed beyond the ropes and essentially quarantined to small section in which to snap pictures. But, there I was with all of the rest of the church goers attending the service.

I sat for a few minutes to admire the enclaves, mini-chapels all around me, and the main “stage” and then I decided to slip under the ropes with the rest of the heathens. It’s a lovely and immense cathedral, but I really wanted to see the palace – the Alcázar.

9:30 a.m. and the palace already has 100s of people in tour groups waiting to get in. Sigh. Well, I’m going anyway.

The Alcázar (pronounced “all – cath- a” in southern spain) is still the official residence of the queen and king of Spain, although I have my doubts they live there at this point. It was a marvel, and along with the Mezquita, something everyone in Spain should see.

Here are a few pictures of the inside.

I ate lunch at a restaurant in Plaza de Doña Elvria whose name I can’t remember, but it wasn’t very good. The best thing I had was a bowl of gazpacho with olive oil ice cream in it. The olive oil ice cream is a GREAT way to balance the acidity of the cold tomato soup. I loved the idea and I may steal it. Also, the gazpacho had chunks of good green apple in it which I also thought was a refreshing idea on a 100 degree day.

Back to the hotel for a nap before I set out to see some flamenco at a joint called Tablao Flamenco El Arenal. One of the women at the front desk recommended 2 places for Flamenco and I said I want the most beautiful one. She made a reservation for me for the 8:00 p.m. show and off I went to nap.

At 7:00 p.m., I started out to find the place on a small street down by the Canal de Alfonso called Calle Rodo. I forgot to mention that I had already been lost at least 6 times in the windy streets of Barrio Santa Cruz and Barrio Central. And, I had a map! Up until this city, I felt like I was doing pretty well with the maps, but for some reason I was super directionally challenged in Seville.

I walked in a bunch of circles and then a nice old man stopped and asked if I needed help. Why yes, is it that obvious? He told me exactly where to go. Finally, I meet someone who wants to help that actually has a perfect sense of direction and distance.

I arrive at the venue and because I only wanted a drink not dinner, I was given sort of a crappy seat behind a pillar. So, note to show goers, fork out the extra 30 euros for dinner and you’ll get a prime seat. Also, the food looked amazingly good. I was a bit surprised as I was thinking it would be an afterthought since the show was the main attraction. Anyway, I’m at a communal table with some folks from Australia and Austria who were lovely and we struck up a nice conversation about all the places all of us have visited. We all decided Seville was not our favorite, due to its size and the sheer number of people here at the moment.

The show starts and from moment 1 I’m blown away. Serious professionals, serious Spanish guitar skills, serious voices. I loved both male dancers of the night (the very first and very last dancers, of course) and female dancers #3 and #4. Clearly, #1 mama had seniority as she went first but she was a bit of a tank and didn’t move as well as the others. No worries, we must all give respect to our elders.

Dancers #3 and #4 were complete opposites in appearance. #3 was what you expect to see – striking black hair, very voluptuous and curvy, very serious and had the pained look on her face that most flamenco dancers have throughout their performances. #4 was blond, super fit, and smiled a lot. She sort of reminded of a Spanish Christie Brinkley in the MTV video “Up town girl.” Okay, now I’m dating myself. They both had amazing foot work and were dazzling.

There were 3 male singers, 3 guitarists and 1 “drummer”. The 1.5 hours were full of strength, ferocity, amor, sexiness. I generally despise the machismo in Spanish culture, but there was something very attractive about it in flamenco. I was bummed I didn’t get to snap some pictures, but they were expressly forbidden. I understand why. I’m sure the performers didn’t want flash bulbs going off in their faces every 5 minutes. It was dazzling and I would go see it again in a heartbeat.

After working up a sweat in my own chair just watching (kidding), it was time for more food. I went back to a café for dinner that I had stopped in earlier to do some olive oil tasting. It was called Extra Verde (extra green). They had an interesting looking tapas menu.

It was 10:30 p.m. and I sat in the lovely courtyard. My waiter was awesome. I told him I wanted 3 “light” tapas and a glass of white wine. I told him to bring me his best. He brought out what would be my favorite dish in all of southern journeys – salmojero con virutas de mojama y langostino. Salmojero is a very traditional Andalucian dish that is essentially a creamy gazpacho. But, there are many modern twists and so it’s now just a cold soup of whatever the chef designs.

The base of this dish was the traditional creamy tomato gazpacho, but then it was topped with shaved, smoked tuna and a fresh prawn. All that was drizzled with a spicy olive oil. This is a killer dish on a hot day. I loved it! Here’s a pic:

Next came their version of hummus. I found that garbanzos beans are used a lot in cooking in Catalonia and I was excited to see them as my favorite dip in Seville. Extra Verde’s version was topped with a sort of dried seaweed, sesame seed and salt mixture and drizzled with some spicy olive oil. Yumm! The only disappointing thing is that in southern Spain they serve the lamest white bread and crackers with everything. They’re just awful, so I ended dipping tomatoes in the hummus and eating the rest by itself.

Finally, my 3rd tapa was a soy marinated tuna that was then smoked and paired with a salad. I loved that there was such a healthy restaurant in southern Spain.

Then, it was off to bed. The next day would be the last day of my southern tour.

Day 5: Málaga.

I woke up early so I could do one more “sight” before I headed to Málaga: Plaza España. It seems like every town I’ve been to has a Plaza España. However, this one was exceptional. It was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The gorgeous government buildings, the fountains, the bridges – all have ornate tile work. Here are a few pics:

And, for the 1929 expo, they created some 30 different tiled ‘Province Alcoves’ along the walls of the Plaza de España. Here’s Albacete’s:

Onto Málaga!

I don’t have much great to say about Málaga. It was sort of a gritty port town. The old town by the cathedral (which wasn’t that spectacular compared to all of the other cathedrals I have seen to date) was cute but nothing that I hadn’t already seen. Málaga did have a fun, lively café-cruising nightlife in the old town. But, so do many other Spanish cities.

The highlight of Málaga for me was the Picasso museum and it wasn’t even the Picasso exhibit. The two exhibitions that I loved in the museum were temporary exhibits. The first was by an Argentine documentary film maker named Robert Otero. He took photos of Picasso at his home and work from 1961-1970. These photos gave a rare glimpse of Picasso’s last years.

The other exhibit was an exhibit of late 1800s-early 1900s lithographs (posters) from Moscow, Berlin and Paris. I really enjoyed the black and white documentary footage from 1929 of these 3 cities. It showed the roaring 20s dancers, ice hockey in Berlin, and a bicycling race.

Other than that, Málaga was kind of a bust for me. I wouldn’t need to go there again.

But, my first 4 days were spectacular and I would certainly recommend Córdoba as a must see city in the south!

After Málaga, I headed north on the train to Madrid to meet my love. That’s where my next posts will pick up. Stay tuned….

One Response to “5 days in Andalucia: Part III (Days 3-5: 2 days in Seville and 1 day in Málaga)”

  1. Peter September 19, 2012 at 12:00 am #

    Awesome – back on track! Seems like so many beautiful spaces and the buildings are so elegant and full of ornate details, glad to see you are out and about living and loving life!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: