Gelves and Sevilla

Hi all, we finally got our lazy beach butts into gear and left our comfort zone in Manta Rota crossing over the Spanish Border at the southern end of Portugal after having toured the coast over the past almost 4 months. It has been amazing and I’m sure we’ll be back sooner rather than later. We drove over the very impressive Guadiana International bridge at Castro Marim and headed straight for Seville. The scenery was lovely, we saw lots of Andalusian horses along the way, my favourites. Such majestic but gentle animals. We decided to stay about 4 miles out of the City at the Marina in Gelves on the western bank of the Guadalquivir River. We were having a chuckle as the Aires Book said we had to pull in at the security gate and ring for a Sailor! We did just that and sure enough, the little chap came out of his tower (ooh hello Sailor, wink wink) opened the gate and guided us to our spot. What a lovely place!

It has all facilities including electric hook up and a laundry and the view down the river is idyllic. There is a small friendly bar overlooking the boats and a couple of restaurants just outside the Marina . It’s very secure, I can highly recommend it. You can cycle into Seville if you like but it’s much easier to take a bus from just outside the gate. Only about 3 Euros return each.

We spent the first afternoon just chilling at Gelves, it was too lovely to move. There were lots of boaty folk around, the sun was shining and the bar did a mean G and T. A good spot to sit and do a bit of route planning. We met a really lovely Belgian chap called Franck and his french Wife. They travel around and dance Tango together. How romantic! They gave us some very helpful advice and tips. You meet such interesting folk on the road!

The next day we hopped on the Charabang and headed into town. It’s all a bit confusing having to switch back to speaking Spanish after spending ages learning just enough to get by in Portuguese! The pronunciation and dialect are also a bit different to the Spanish we are used to here in the depths of Andalusia. Everything has a Moorish twist.

I can honestly say that Seville is one of the most beautiful Cities I’ve ever seen. It hits you as soon as you arrive. It’s historic architecture is breathtaking. Green parakeets fly overhead and the smell of the orange trees fills the air. You have to have your wits about you though. There are horse drawn carriages, trams, bicycles, Segways, buses and taxis speeding around from every direction. It is bustling and busy but retains its charm. Whilst the City is heaving with visitors of all nationalities, it remains very typically Spanish. I instantly loved it. A good guide book and a map are essential as otherwise you’ll end up going around in circles and missing some of the wonderful sights.

You could spend a whole day just looking around the Cathedral, it’s so vast. It’s the largest Gothic church in the world, it’s quite incredible. The Alcazar, the Giralda, the Barrio Santa Cruz and the quirky medieval Jewish Quarter are unmissable. The City’s gothic buildings, towers, palaces, theatres, churches, museums and it’s labrynth of cobbled backstreets are just something else. Around every corner is another quaint little square or park lined with orange trees and Jasmin. There are hundreds of fountains, magnificent statues and monuments. The unusual shops draw you in as do the characterful bars and bodegas strung with hams overhead, each one serving its own unique tapas and paella. There’s music everywhere. We found the Casa de Flamenco. I’m dying to go to a proper show although many of the bars just have spontaneous dancing happening most nights so we’re told. Yes, of course I bought some bloody castanets!! I’ve wanted some since I was 6!

The Plaza de Espana is a huge plaza in the Parque de Maria Luisa. It’s style is a slightly odd extravagant cross between Moorish and Renaissance Art Deco. It really has the wow factor. The attention to detail is stunning.

There is no way you can see this place in one day. Two is pushing it but we have a lot to cram in now so we must forge ahead. On our second day we visited the Medieval Watchtower, Torre del Oro, and the Bullring. Whilst I have no interest in animal cruelty, I am fascinated with the history and tradition of bullfighting. Who didn’t wave their coat around in the school playground like a matador taunting their friends who charged like bulls using their fingers for horns?! A pretty pricey affair these days with the cheap seats starting at €250 Euros and the best seats costing over a grand. All you need to decide on is Sol or Sombre!! Around the arena are various boutiques selling the Spanish riding gear and beautiful Andalusian saddlery. Wonder if I could get away with dressing like that to trot around Bakewell! Perhaps I should persuade Lady Brocklehurst and Martin to stock up?!

By late afternoon, the promised change in the weather had started to blow in. It was spitting with rain. There is no shortage of eateries around Seville. We both adore tapas so we set about choosing a spot. The bars and bodegas are so atmospheric and the food, particularly the ham, is to die for. It’s a tricky choice, every place looks better than the last. Some specialise in seafood some in meat. Sherry is the order of the day but it makes a nice change from wine and it seems much more quaffable here somehow. After a delicious, very typical, lunch, I finally get to hit the shops (does a little victory dance).

After a quick coffee and churros fix we return to base, tired, slightly tipsy but very happy! We now need to decide whether to hole in here on the Marina or make tracks. The weather forecast is pretty awful for the next three days at least. Rain and possible thunderstorms. It’s also a Spanish Public Holiday on the 28th, Andalusia Day. Shops etc. are likely to be closed and public transport limited. Wanderlust wins the day so tomorrow we are bound for Jerez de la Frontera. It’s all about the Sherry, Flamenco and the Royal Andalusian Equestrian School here. I am very excited about all three so sod the rain!

Packing up and moving out!

Ciao for now peeps xxx

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