Day Eleven – The Oldest European Residence Still In Use, Awed At Every Turn, Let’s Take A Bath, Give That Man A Hand, Retirement Home For Priests, That Sounds Like In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida To Me, Torre But No Joe, The Other Side, Molto Bene, Meet Me In The Plaza, Hey Buddy Don’t Throw That Chair At Me, Wouldn’t You Like To Be A Pepper “Two” And The Giant Mushroom
Grabbing some quick pastries, we headed on what we knew would be a very hot day to one of the more incredible places I have ever visited, the Alcázar.
We passed by the Cathedral and arrived early. Technically, the Alcázar is the oldest European royal residence still in use, and although it didn’t open until 9:30, a good-sized line had already formed by 9:15.
After walking through the Patio de la Montería (Courtyard of the Hunt) we stopped in the Salón del Almirante (Admiral’s Hall), which houses some paintings from the 19th and 20th centuries. This room has a lot of history…Columbus, Magellan and Amerigo Vespucci all hung out in this area at one time or another, which is why we wanted to explore it further.
One of the more famous paintings here is La Virgen de los Mareantes (The Virgin of the Navigators) by Alejo Fernandez (below). It was painted in the 1530s. In it, Mary is protecting her “faithful,” and no painting before it had the discovery of the Americas as its focal point.
Mary (the Virgin, not Kim’s wife…she had twins…and not immaculately) is surrounded by St. Sebastion, St. James The Great, St. John The Evangelist and St. Elmo, who later became a Muppet and a hit 80s song by John Parr.
We walked back outside…
This palace, also known as the Palacio del Rey Don Pedro, was built by Pedro I of Castile in 1364. Patio de las Doncellas was named this because of the annual Moorish tradition of demanding a hundred virgins (no Kardashians in that group) from their Christian kingdoms .
We entered the Patio de las Muñecas (Courtyard of the Dolls), although the original name of Valley of The Dolls would have worked, too. Located in the palace’s private quarters, the plaster work was transported here from the Alhambra in the 19th century. The mezzanine and top gallery were added for Queen Isabel II. It’s got a cool looking skylight, too.
By the way, rumor has it that Pedro had his half brother, Don Fadrique, murdered here in 1358 and Pedro also knocked off a guest staying here, Abu Said of Granada, to steal his jewels…including a very large ruby that is now among England’s crown jewels. This was one dangerous B&B for the guests.
Alcazar Intermission (Cue music and pour another glass of Sangria):
Coming to the halls and ceilings of Charles V, the colorful tile artwork caught our eye.
…after venturing through the Banquet Hall, we stepped into the Hall Of Tapestries. Carol King would have been “wowed” by every Tapestry.
Pick a tree…palm, cypress, myrtle, mulberry, magnolia, orange, lemon and more…
We kept thinking there couldn’t be anything more to top what we had already seen, but then I thought I heard Tracy say, “Let’s take a bath.” as she walked towards Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla (Baths of Donna Maria de Padilla).
and are ripe for outstanding photos.
We walked the parapet …
…in search of even more stellar views of the garden…
We paid a visit to an underground restaurant that had been recommended by Gary at Spain Select. It looked great, so we booked a table for the following evening.
A few minutes later, while I was shooting some photos…
…Tracy ducked into a store and before you could say “Sevilla Shopping Spree,” she had plunked down 150 euros on a few blouses. When she told me I nearly fainted and said, “I need to go to a hospital.” And luckily that’s where we were headed.
There are also numerous frescoes, sculptures…
,,,and beautiful painted ceilings throughout.
I got out my iPhone and recorded part of it (Shameless Plug Alert: I’m going to post it to YouTube and put it on my website if I can figure out how…or at least have it in an email to my loyal subscribers…remember it’s free to subscribe, and worth every non-penny).
Hospital de los Venerables also houses a permanent collection of Valasquez paintings. I really liked a Francisco Pacheco painting of Saint Catherine that I can’t find online (no photos were allowed in the gallery…I hate that!).
The Torre Del Oro has stood for nearly 9 centuries (coincidentally about the same amount of time since our last meal), serving at various times as administrative offices and a warehouse. While Mary and Tracy stayed behind to say bad things about their evil taskmaster, Kim and I paid our €3 and walked up the 96 steps as Mary and Tracy cried 96 tears.
…and then strolled along its bank. The restaurants over here were not talking to us until we nearly arrived at the next bridge (which I believe Tracy dubbed A Bridge Too Far). We sat down, ordered a beer, and when we looked at the menu it had nothing but tapas, something none of us ever wanted to see again.
We downed our beers (quickly) and headed back by another market to our side of the river in desperate need of real food. I could tell the natives were restless, but right before they erupted, just like a river of molten lava, there ahead of us we saw Il Vesuvio Ristorante Italiano. “Molto bene,” I exclaimed.
That’s because it was nearly 3 p.m. and according to our Fitbits, we had walked a little more than seven miles with only a stale pastry as our sustenance for the day. For those who have said they want to travel with us, I believe this fact alone will probably dissuade you from those thoughts.
Lunch was terrific (€65). I believe there was grumbling from the crew on how long it had taken to find a restaurant and that I was somehow to blame for the Sevilla Sunstroke Stroll (ok maybe I was, but we have one of these on every vacation), however my two Negroni cocktails eased the pain as did my fantastico gorgonzola ravioli.
Although Kim’s hair was slightly askew, it was good to see smiling faces again. Other good dishes: Pesto (walnut and pine nuts) pasta, eggplant zucchini and a chef’s special of pasta with shrimp and veggies. The complimentary limoncello at the end pf the meal sealed the deal. Il Vesuvio saved the day and suddenly I wasn’t such an ash.
After all this walking, I quickly took a look inside Iglesia de San Ildefonso (which was built between 17964 and 1841), and we headed back to the apartment for a well-deserved siesta. Little did we know, but the Sevilla Sunstroke Stroll II was only a couple of hours away.
That evening our little excursion started innocently enough…we were headed to the Plaza de España located in the Parque de María Luisa. What we didn’t know was that our plaza turned out to be a lot further from our apartment than we had first thought, and even in the late afternoon/early evening, Sevilla was still boiling hot. Instead of Sweating With The Oldies, we were just oldies sweating.
The four bridges and grand staircases lend themselves perfectly for picture taking (Kim’s hair must have still been askew or he would have been in one of these)…
Fortunately we weren’t in the middle of a bar fight, but rather a goal had just been scored in the soccer match they were watching. Luckily, it was Sevilla that scored or I might have had a table embedded in my skull.
Although the house special (three pieces of monk fish and shrimp with veggies and lemon potatoes) on a skewer looked tempting, we again started with those incredible tasting fried green pepper rings (and we aren’t even green pepper fans…gotta make this dish). My beef filet and fries hit the spot.
By now darkness had fallen (so it must have been after 10). Most groups would have called it a long day, but not this energetic lot (well, not real energetic). I decided we should go see a giant mushroom (a good place for a fun guy like me). When I heard some backtalk, I said, “I’m not taking any more shiitake from any of you guys…we’re going.”
Back at the apartment, Tracy looked at my Fitbit. We had walked more than 15 miles. Fearing mutiny, I would not wake up the troops early the following day. We’d take it slightly easier tomorrow, but there was still lots to see in sensational Sevilla, so there would be little rest for the weary.
Next: Day Twelve – Don’t Pan Pan, Pilatos Not Pilates, Do You Know The Way To San Jose, One More Church, Bellas Fellas, Losing My Head, We Finally Get To Try This Restaurant, I Will Not Be Doing The Macarena, Archeological Dining And Where’s Tom Cruise And Madonna