|Day 31 - Wed May 4 Seville
(Chris) We started the day at a nearby Starbucks - sometimes the familiar is nice. We sat near an Irish exchange student, who said when we mentioned the heat that "they say Seville is the frying pan of Europe, it gets to 50C here during the summer, so that's when I retreat home." We later checked our thermometer to see that 50C=125F. Owee! Anyway our entire stay was quite warm. Most people here seem to be thin, and I suppose that's a big contributor. Maybe also some gross tapas. ;)
We started touring by walking around Seville's cathedral. They keep it brightly lit at night and birds fly all around it then, I suppose to eat bugs. I guess it's the 3rd largest cathedral in the world by footprint, and the largest by volume contained. It was extremely enormous to be sure. I guess the history around here is that Spain used to be mostly Muslim, and violently converted to Christianity in the 1400s. Anyway, there is a tomb for Christopher Columbus in the cathedral, though I guess his remains have been moved from city to city several times so there's doubt as to whether he's in there or not.
We followed that up with a visit to the local bullfighting ring/museum. They only have fights on Sunday so we just got a tour. The tour wasn't all that great but it gave a glimpse into what a bullfight would be like. To Jen and I it seemed quite cruel. If we went to one I might be rooting for the bull!
Our last touristy activity was to go see a Flamenco dancing show. It was spendy but Reeck said it was the #1 thing to do in the city. We were somewhat underwhelmed. Initially it captivated us, one very good guitarist, two dudes clapping hands and doing sort of a random Muslim cry, and one man or woman both dancing and clapping. We think if they shortened the show to 1 hour it would be a lot better, but they'd probably sell less drinks that way.
We had another late tapas dinner (2 bad tapas, 2 good ones) and called it a night.
Day 32 - Thu May 5 Seville, to Granada
(Chris) Another late morning, we just did some wandering around the city before our 3 hr train to Granada. The conductor of the train made us pay for a reservation even though our Eurail schedule said they were not required. We checked at the Granada station and apparently they are, hmmph, must've changed. Anyway it was quite confusing at first as he was determined to speak his Spanish very quickly. Even when spoken slowly I only have a chance of understanding the most basic phrases!
The Spanish countryside is fairly dry, has lots of farming, and low rolling hills. Except for the short bushy trees (olive?) it reminds me some of Eastern Washington. It's quite pretty.
Granada is smaller than Seville, with maybe 300K people. The centerpiece of the city is the Alhambra, a famous fort/palace up on a hill, which makes the city similar to Athens & The Parthenon, albeit on a smaller scale. The Alhambra was the last stronghold of the Moorish Empire (Muslims) before they were driven out by a multi-century Catholic crusade. The Alhambra fell in 1492, and was used later that same year for the Spanish king & queen to grant permission for (and finance) Columbus to sail for India by heading West. Apparently he never found out that the Caribbean wasn't part of India, I didn't remember that from school.
Anyway, that evening we went up to a viewpoint to watch the sun set on the Alhambra, with about 100 other tourists. There were some colorful locals there too, a group playing Spanish guitar, and lots of granola people. The viewpoint sits right on the Jewish quarter, so we walked around there for awhile and came back to the viewpoint to catch a bus. But there was a small band playing (~10 spirited pieces), sort of a cross between college marching band and oompah (with a little Muslim flavor thrown in, try to picture that), with 2 jugglers/performers. They were pretty good so we stuck around awhile to watch.
Dinner was lousy, perhaps the worst we've had, so we bought some gelato elsewhere to drown our sorrows. And a guy at the dinner table next to ours had his bag stolen from his feet - this theft stuff is no joke. But keeping the theft radar on all the time does take a lot of energy. I can't wait to just put my wallet in my back pocket again.