Adventures in Spain – The rest of Seville – Plaza de España & Flamenco

In a very belated follow-up to my other two posts on Seville (day one & day two), I am wrapping up my final and third day (And a little bit of the hour before our morning train 4th day) in the beautiful relaxing Seville.  It was also the day Tony was to join me on my trip so of course I dragged him all around town of where I’ve been and what I still wanted to see.

I also finally gained a photographer who can take a straight photo.  No offense mom but you were not a great assistant in my quest for shameless self promotion.  Although considering I can’t keep my eyes open in the photo i guess I’m not doing myself any favors either.

Aside from taking him up the tower of the Cathedral we wandered the curving maze of streets while trying to avoid getting hit by taxis and cars that miraculously fit on the road.

We walked through a park that made me feel like Alice in wonderland.

After some more getting lost, we found the Plaza de España and perfected our self portrait taking skills.

Similarly to the Cathedral, I could have crawled all over the plaza taking photos from every corner!  Now if only I had some talent to express everything I saw… I guess I’ll keep practicing.

Not sure if you can see, but lined along the plaza were these bench areas representing every city in Spain.  I decided to take a nap in one of my favorites.

All the photographing and walking made us hungry.  Good part about having an extra person for dinner is that you get to try more tapas.  Unfortunately, I don’t know if I agreed with Tony’s tapas selection.

Iberian Ham

Scallop

Steak covered in too much oil.

Tony’s selection wasn’t bad per say but definitely not as great as mine.

Seafood salad

Breaded Whale!

Tuna steak with squid stuff and avocado sauce.  Clearly this dish was the winner of the meal.

My mom stayed boring with potatoes and sword fish instead of tapas.

And as we were eating, a group of conquistadors horsed by!

Now after dinner you have a few options since it’s most likely 10PM at least.  You could keep drinking and party it up, go to sleep because you’re jet-legged (Tony) or go see a flamenco show.  My mom and I picked the Flamenco show.

We went to La Carboneria, which is known for it’s free nightly shows starting at 10PM and a great vibe!  The drinks are reasonably cheap (around 2-3Euros) and the show that would cost you at least 15 Euro elsewhere is free.  I would recommend getting there early around 9:30 to get a better seat.

Now if you’re wondering what is Flemenco, it is not a misspelled pink bird as some would assume.  It is music, song, and dance from Andalusia, in southern Spain, that includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance) and palmas (handclaps.)

My mom and I stayed for about 3 shows of it (30 minutes each).  The dancer had to change outfits after the second set.

I took a few videos as well that you can watch if you’re more curious.

Adventures in Spain – More chillaxing in Seville – Cathedral

I know I said I was going to keep my Seville recap to only two posts in my last Seville Recap but I’m in a rush and I wanted to share some more parts of my trip.  Although my blog has never been private or secret, I haven’t shared it on Facebook with my friends and family until recently.  Hopefully they won’t freak out of running obsession… but at least now they know where all my food photos go =)

This post is is dedicated to my favorite part of Seville; Catedral de Santa María de la Sede.  Initially the Moors built a mosque where the Cathedral is not located and the works lasted 26 years (1172-1198). The main part of the Giralda tower and the Courtyard of the Orange Trees (Patio de los Naranjos , Islamic baths) are the only remaining parts of the original mosque.

I know a little Jewish girl talking about how her favorite part in Seville was a church that used to be a Mosque, but bear with me.  I love Gothic architecture and this was one of the most amazing buildings I’ve seen.  I loved it so much, I paid twice (Hey if you’re under 26 it’s only 3 Eur) to go up in the tower.  Granted the second time was to go with Tony, but before I knew he was coming I went out there alone.

The Seville Cathedral was built for two main reasons. The first one is that the old mosque was in very poor conditions after the 1356 earthquake. And the second one is because the rulers of Seville decided to build a new temple in 1401 to demonstrate the city wealth and the Christian’s domination over the Muslims.

The Giralda is the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville.  It was a minerat (Arabic lighthouse found in a mosque), which was turned into a bell tower.  The climb to the top left me a little short of breath but the views from every corner is amazing.

You even had a great view of Plaza de Toros.

I spent a ridiculous amount of time staring out taking photos and just watching the world slowly go by.

The coolest part of the tower is that all along the winding path are windows and as you make your way up  you get to appreciate the view from hundreds of angles (and yes I took a photo or two from all of them).

Five years after construction ended, in 1511, the dome collapsed.  The dome again collapsed in 1888 (earthquake), and work was still being performed on the dome until at least 1903.

I made a new friend on my way down from the tower

The interior to me personally wasn’t that interesting, it was just like other Cathedrals, only you know bigger with lots of Jesus figures and etc.

They did have this one room filled with gold.. that might have interested me a bit.

The Cathedral is also the burial site of Columbus, not that the photo above has anything to do with it but I thought that was an interesting spot.

The one thing about Spain that I’ve noticed are ceilings… they’re beautiful.. this was one of the many detailed ceilings in the Cathedral.

We grabbed some food afterwards, at whereelse but the Catedral bar.  It was another tourist hole but the food was decent.  A swordfish steak

And ox tail… What can I say, I like to get adventurous with my food options.

It’s my birthday today!  I’m getting old!

An Introduction to Seville, Spain

I’ve been contemplating and contemplating how to recap my 3 days in Seville, and I got nothing.  So instead it will be a slow photo stream broken up into two parts.  Because I was traveling with my mom I didn’t get too crazy in how far outside of the tourist zone I went.  However, within the tourist zone it’s not so much as do but more of a take a walk, relax and enjoy.  Things run slower in Sevilla.  While Barcelona & Valencia still had the hustle and bustle of a city on the go with a Mediterranean edge, Seville was more a place where I caught my breath, relaxed, ate some grub, enjoy some wine and got lost in the maze of narrow streets.

The first day we got to Seville, it was pouring rain, absolutely pouring, and after our cab dropped us off in Santa Cruz, where we were staying we were at a loss of where to eat.  We picked the first place we saw, I don’t remember the name but aside from great wine everything else was disappointing.  My mom ordered these salmon things wrapped around cream cheese….

I ordered a mistake… well unless you’re into the atkins diet.  The beef was great but I could have really used a real burger bun instead of this bread thing… not sure why they had this on their list of “recommended” dishes.

One of the many crazy narrow streets to get lost in when you’re searching for some grub.

As the rain slowed down we tried to walk around

The good thing was that our room was near the Cathedral, so every time we got lost, we would follow the arrows to the Seville Cathedral and find our lodging from there.  My mom looks thrilled haha.

The Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world.  Even as someone whole claims no religious affiliation, I was in awe of it’s architectural beauty.

A warning to vegetarians .. you will see hanging hogs pretty much everywhere in Spain… it was kinda gross at first but I started to find it pretty cool halfway through my journey.

I know trash isn’t that exciting but I thought the recycling bin was kinda neat… I like trash-bins  I’m a weirdo, love me.

Sadly after packing my running skirts, and my new unwrapped Garmin, I only ran once in Spain… In Seville.. 6 miles on Guadalquivir River felt refreshing and a struggle at the same time.   I was thirsty (I guess drinking wine instead of water for a week does that) and I was tired.

I ran by the Navel musuem and I really think we should revive the brick style architecture too look more medieval.

I rented a room through AirBnB because in between hotels I wanted to save some $$ and this is the lovely courtyard in our building that brought sunlight into all the rooms.  I thought it was neat.

On our second day we went to the Alcazar, their palace.  It is the oldest European palace still in use and it used to be a Moorish fort.

The gardens were pretty and I’ll skip the history lesson but if you’re curious Wikipedia has all you need.

As we walked around the garden, we made new friends.  These guys were everywhere!  Only the males are pretty though, afterwards we saw a bunch of females and they well uuuugggllly.

And of course within 5 minutes of being in the gardens, it started to pour!

We decided with the rain it was a good idea to take a walk inside

The tile work in the room was beautiful.  I wish they kept some drapery or photos of what they thought it used to look like when in use.  I guess I had a hard time picturing what should be here besides a bathroom.

Just another pretty site within the garden

This is the Baths of Lady Maria de Padilla at the Alcázar of Seville.  The “Baths of Lady María de Padilla” are rainwater tanks beneath the Patio del Crucero. The tanks are named after María de Padilla, the mistress of Pedro the Cruel. Legend has it, Pedro fell for María and had her husband killed. María resisted his advances and poured boiling oil over her face to disfigure herself to stop Pedro’s pursuit. She became a nun and moved to a convent afterwards. She is regarded as a symbol of purity in the culture of Seville. I don’t know if this is true but that;s what the internets told.

Sight seeing ends in hunger.  We went to some place that was called something bodega.  The food was good but I don’t know if it was anything special aside from these meatballs.  They were yum yums

I forgot if this was beef or pork but it was yummy….

this was less yummy, it was beef in their “signature sauce” but I don’t think I want to know what the special sauce was.

These things were great too, shrimp wrapped in yummy light pastry type wrap!

Adventures in Spain – 12 Hours in Valencia

Whenever you plan a trip on a short time frame (2 weeks is short when you want to see everything), you will always have places you regret you did not stay at longer and places you wish you spent less time in.  Sadly I can’t change that my time in Valencia was way too short.  I almost cut it completely out of my itinerary based on lonely planet and etc. websites’ commentaries about it not being that exciting.  Little did I know that this would be one of my favorite cities I visited.

Like many European cities, Valencia had a river running through it, Turia; however, after a major flood it was diverted and turned into a runner’s dream.  It is now a verdant sunken park that allows cyclists and pedestrians to traverse much of the city without the use of roads. Basically my dream! The park, called the ‘Garden of the Turia’ (Jardí del Túria/Jardín del Turia) has everything in it from numerous ponds, paths, fountains, flowers, football pitches, cafés (with cheap beer and wine!), artworks, climbing walls, an athletics track, a zen garden and more. My mom and I took a short stroll there on our way to l’oceanografic.

I really regretted the early train I had in the morning.  I wish I had the next morning to go for a run!

My mom enjoyed the water fountains.

Our slow stroll got us hungry and luckily a food stop was right in our path.

Tuna Salad and potatoes with some cerveza (beer).

After lunch we headed towards L’Oceangrafic, my main reason for the stop in Valencia.  The largest aquarium in Europe and the 4th largest in the world.  Care to take where #1 resides in? USA! USA!  Haha JK, well not really, it’s in Georgia by Atlanta and I have now bumped up Atlanta once more on a higher list of places I want to see in the US.

The park is dividend into 10 habitats with 45,000 animals of 500 different species including fish, mammals, birds, reptiles and invertebrates — amongst these are sharks, penguins,dolphins, sea lions, walruses, beluga whales, and more.

If you never get a chance to scuba (which would be a shame) going into one of these aquariums with an overhead passageway is probably the closest and most amazing thing to seeing the underwater world.

I even found Nemo!

Shark food!

These guys reminded me of ghosts when they swam over my head.

Another thing about Valencia… paella, an amazing concoction of rice, seafood and green veggies!  A signature dish in the area!

Yea, clearly it was awful and I hated every bite as I ate it all.

My mom ordered ravioli which was good, but not as good as paella.

Another reason why I loved Valencia might have been the awesome hotel I got from Hotwire for only $100 (Yup, USD not Euro).  It was the Westin- Valencia, right off Turia Gardens and about half a mile from the town center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m always a little (okay sometimes a lot) disappointed by what hotwire calls “4 star” hotels and the results I get, but this was finally a true win.  We have a pretty large suite with two comfy beds (usual Westin Comfort), two little couches, desk and open space.

There was a separate room for toilets and a room with a separate double headed shower on one half a giant bathroom on the other side.  Not to mention this weird hallway of mirrors in our room that I think was the dressing area.

Plus there was a gym spa with a ton of weigh machines, a pool, Jacuzzi and steam showers but they closed a 10PM!  Ugh… if only I didn’t have a 6AM wake up call to catch a train.  If only all my hotels came in this style..Yup.. really wish I had more time to check out all these things.

And now some more random photos from my walk around town.

More pretty old stuff, because really I couldn’t stop taking useless photos of it all.

Although the doors with faces and building with engraved human bodies really freak it me out.

Bullring in the center by the old train station.

 

Have you ever been to a place you wish you could have spent more time at?

 

Casa Batlló & Last day in Barcelona

Last post about Barcelona and then I move on to other sites!

On our last day we decided to actually take a tour of one of Gaudi’s works, Casa Batlló.  While all his buildings are amazing and inspiring to see, I was curious what they look like inside.  Unfortunately the privileged to see that comes with what I think is a high price (Approx 20 Euros per person).  So while I knew if I was really that curious I could Google myself up some images, I decided I should walk within the walls of at least one.  It’s hard to capture what walking within one of Gaudi’s buildings was like.  It was like being within another world, almost within a painting.  Growing up among NYC skyscrapers, I never really considered architecture art, maybe some engineering, some historical buildings had a pretty style and cute, but nothing I considered to be art like a painting would be.

Unfortunately, as with all tourist spots, you are not alone, you will be in a mass but luckily they give audio guides so the chatter is kept to a minimum as everyone gazes and listens.

The fireplace reminds me of something out of a Tim Burton movie, I kept staring at it, expecting it to start dancing.

Mirrors and the colorful glass panels were used to reflect natural light throughout the whole house.  They say everything looks a little different throughout each hour of the day because of the light reflection.

The front room on the second floor.  Sadly none of the rooms were furnished.

I expected the elevator to eat me, or at least take me to a parallel universe

The center of the building where most of the light goes through.  The tiles actually get darker towards the top so that when you look up, visually it looks the same.

I think things were designed to make it feel like you’re underwater.

It only got more insane on the rooftop with the chimneys and this little water room that looks like a dinosaur.

At the gift shop they had replicated furniture for sale, so if someone has an extra 5K or 10K, and wants to buy me housewarming presents…. well I could always use some furniture that’s not from Ikea.

The house is always referred to as Casa dels ossos (House of Bones), it’s creepy and mesmerizing at night.  Our hotel was close by and every time we walked me by there was always people sitting on the bench staring at it for several whiles.

A tapas mix of salads, Russian salad, Greek, Salad, seafood salad and some cod fish.

While walking around we walked by another market, this one empty of tourists.  Frozen veggies by the pound!

So I might have brought a bag of tomatoes because I wanted to try them all and ate them like berries.

When I walked by this, it scared me!

I took a short walk along the waterfront.

But before that, I walked by those infamous human statues on La Ramba, I didn’t see anything too impressive, at least not as insane as the Madrid ones.

Waterfronts & piers are pretty (’nuff said)

Dinner?  Well after so many tapas, I wanted a short break and got a gyro.  It was okay, the chicken was good.

An Evening of Pintxos – Night out in Barcelona

Pintxo is a snack, typically eaten in bars, traditional in northern Spain and especially popular in the Basque country. They are usually eaten in bars or taverns as a small snack while hanging out with friends or relatives.  In a way, they remind me of dim sum only in the evening instead of morning.

The place we went to was Bilbao Berria, right next to the cathedral in the Gothic District.

Pinchos or Pintxos are always served on “pincho”, meaning “spike.

There’s meat, lots of fishes, and just some just random options.

Most are served with a slice of bread and hard boiled egg.

There were a lot of pork and beef ones but I mostly stuck to fish and this interesting bowl.

And then there was dessert!

While I wouldn’t go there for dessert, I wish I could have tried so many more!

Adventures in Spain – Barcelona – Mercat de Mercats – A celebration of Catalan food

After exploring the Barri Gotic, my mom and I stumbled upon Mercat De Mercats, what we thought was just another market was actually a once a year 3 day festival of wine and food from all through Catalonia.

One of the first tables was pâté de foie gras, basically goose livers.

After my experience last year in Paris, I can’t say I’m the biggest fan, but the booth was surrounding by so many people that for a Euro I couldn’t help but do as the Spanish do and try.

It was okay, I didn’t die, the cracker underneath was tasty.  Next up was the Oysters, something a little more my style!

My mom picked a mine salmon sandwich to taste.

Next, we came upon the most delicious fish kabobs!  Salmon and Tuna.  We picked to try the Tuna.

It was my favorite food I tasted at the market!

My mom got a mojito that was a perfect blend of sweet and mint.

I’m a person whose quite easy to satisfy, give me some red wine and some meats on a stick and I’ll be content.

If you walk around anywhere in Spain you’ll noticed they’re into cured meats.  You can take a sampler stick to experiment a bit!

I was pretty full at this point but we kept walking by things that just looked more and more interesting.  I’m not even sure what this is, maybe an octopus, it kind of tasted like a giant  calamari

We also got a shrimp plate to share.

It was one of the coolest scenes, tasting of food and drinks around a beautiful cathedral where tourists and locals from all sorts of background sat together in bliss.

After a rest and a glass of wine, we moved onto olives, here are some anchovies with olives.

Tuna inside an olive! Yummy!

This was one of my favorite food festivals I’ve ever been too!  Cheap wine (1-2 Euro a glass) and yummy food.  There was cheeses everywhere too but I somehow forgot to photograph them while eating.

 Have you ever been to a food festival? What’s your favorite one?  I’ve only been to a few random ones in Boston that I always find too packed with super long lines.  In Barcelona I barely had to wait a minute to get what I wanted!