Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Five days in Andalucia: a tapas odyssey in Seville and Cadiz

A couple of years ago I joined an evening class to learn Spanish, in an attempt to learn a second language. The ability to speak a second, third or fourth language is something I've always been immensely impressed by and envious of in others.

However, I only managed a couple of months worth of lessons and then decided not to continue, fool that I am. Instead I started to use handy little apps like Duolingo. So, predictably, I still can't speak fluent Spanish but enough to get by, I reckon. Time to try it out with a tapas odyssey to Seville and Cadiz, in southwest Spain. Delicioso = delicious. Mas, por favor = more please. Easy, what more would I need?

The idea to visit Seville came along when I was writing an article about filming locations for Game of Thrones around Europe. Seville has one, called the Alcazar of Seville, which was the setting of Dorne, tropical-looking home of House Martell. An incredibly impressive palace and gardens dating from somewhere around the 12th century. But obviously even more significant now it's a Game of Thrones location.

Seville was a bit hot for an Englishman, it hit the high 30s while I was there. So it made sense to escape to the cooler coastal town of Cadiz for a few days in the middle of the trip. Hit the beach, amble round the town, eat tapas, check out cool old historical buildings and generally do whatever I felt like doing. Oh, and occasionally apologise to European people for my country and that whole EU referendum thing. 

On to the photos then...

One of the most impressive areas of the Alcazar. It's got a shallow pool running through the middle of the courtyard.
An underground cellar in the Alcazar gardens, which stays cool even when it's hot outside. Handy considering it was really bloody hot. 

Big fountain statue of Neptune in the gardens of the Alcazar.

An artist paints the scene in the Alcazar's meticulously kept gardens

It's me in the gardens of the Alcazar. And for comparison, below is Jamie Lannister in a similar location. 
"Come on back to King's Landing with me, where nothing bad ever happens because your mum is definitely not psychotic" (or something like that).
The Metropol Parasol in the middle of Seville's shopping district. Big curvy wooden structure that looks out over the city. Great views up there and a free glass of  sangria flavoured lemonade in a cafe at the top included in the ticket price. Can't sniff at that.
Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de CaballerĂ­a de Sevilla aka Seville's bullring. Now, I am definitely not endorsing bullfighting. It is pointless and barbaric. But the bullring is still an impressive building.

A panorama of the bullring interior
Again, not endorsing bullfighting but it's got a lot of history. The most successful matadors are local legends. It's a rare occurrence, but every now and then a bull is deemed to have fought so well it can live out the rest of its life in a field and be used for breeding. 
One of the larger town squares in Cadiz at night, with multicoloured fountain in the foreground.

Cadiz Cathedral at night

Went to see some flamenco in Cadiz. Intimate (sweaty) little venue by the sea, but this guitarist and singer had the crowd enraptured by their moving music. 

Simple, delicious tapas. So much of this in Spain that I had to crack and take a food photo eventually. 

View over Cadiz from the top of Cadiz Cathedral

Mad looking old tree near the northern tip of Cadiz

The faded grandeur of a large wooden door in Cadiz with bunting hanging next to it

My incredibly successful (or completely inept) first attempt at sandboarding. Like snowboarding, but on sand. I can't do either. No balance, you see. All limbs.

Bolonia beach, a couple of hours south of Cadiz

The tomb of Christopher Columbus in Seville Cathedral
Massive gold alter in Seville Cathedral. They like their shiny gold things, those Catholics
View from somewhere up the Giralda, a big tower that's part of Seville Cathedral.

Plaza de Espana, Seville. Used as a filming location for Lawrence of Arabia and one of the rubbish Star Wars prequels that we don't like to talk about.

So, there you go, Seville and Cadiz. To anyone thinking of a trip to Seville, I'd recommend avoiding the stifling heat of the summer months and go during spring/autumn. Cadiz is probably good all year round and is a bit more relaxed than Seville.

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