Monday, February 9, 2009

Seville Feb 9

The Alcazar is closed today so I will use this time to update the blog. I arrived in Seville yesterday and am back to staying in a backpacker hostel after several stays in small hostals by myself.

Hostals are simply small, inexpensive hotels, often rooms in a large home. They are inexpensive and great for someone traveling alone in terms of expense. And the one I stayed in while in Cordoba was charming, quiet and had a great location. But Seville is a more expensive town and I was wanting companionship. This backpackers style hostel is great. Free internet, toast,marmlade and hot drinks for breakfast, bar with incredibly cheap drinks but that is the norm in Spain. I am in a room for 6, mixed sex and of course I am the age of the other occupants parents if not grandparents. But i t is fun. The place is lively, the kids are international, and the hostel offers some great inexpensive treats. Last night someone made paella. For 5 euro is was a bargain and very tasty. Besides, I got to watch and chat with the young man doing the cooking. I had a great conversation with the Swedish bar tender whose English is perfect and without accent. How incredibly well some people learn languages and how well the schools of Europe do with this.

I had my beer with a young man from China, another one from Australia, a Canadian girl currently living in London, and a young Israeli woman who is intrigued with applying to work at Yellowstone and other national parks.

I took the bus here from Cordoba. I have found that a good way to travel. They are comfortable and this one made several stops along the way so I got a glimpse at some rural towns. The cities here are nothing like home, but the countryside of Andalusia and Seville reminds me of my native northern California. Rolling hills, wide valleys and very similar crops and vegetation. The divided highways are panted with oleander, just as California highways, wild mustard grows in the rows between grape vines and olive trees,both of which grow in California. I´ve seen plenty of orange trees in town but not groves for commerical use. The olive oil here is excellent and is frequently poured on bread as a substitute for butter or margarine. The bread,except what we had for breakfast today is uniformly excellent. This mornings was sliced sandwich bread which is unusual. Usually it is crusty rolls.

I could see how the early Spanish land grantees would have felt at home in California, planting groves of trees they had experience with, raising cattle, starting vineyards.

Tonight I will join others from the hostel for a tapas tour, finished off with a flaminco concert and dance performance. I went to a flaminco concert in Madrid, but there was no dancing. The two guitarists,from the local music school were excellent as was the drummer, but I look forward to also seeing the dancing. And Seville is famous for flaminco.

I was sorry the Alcazar was closed. I was able to walk around the outdoor part of the grounds and one inner garden. But the very best one is in Granada and I will be there long enough that there will be no chance of missing it. It is a walled palace for the royalty. Granada´s is especially spectacular and the gardens are extensive and not to be missed.

Yesterday I did do the cathedral here, one of the largest in all Europe. But it left me pretty cold.....way to much gold, silver, ornamentation which I know was paid for on the backs of common people and which fails to bring out any spiritual thoughts in me.

I found an bookstore with a couple shelves of English language books today. I ran out of reading material the other day and felt a sense of panic. Fortunately I was able to find a couple books at the hostal where I was staying. But there are none here at the backpacker hostel, so I bought two. I have a book I will leave behind and a young woman eager for it,

Although it is cool and cloudy, I am going to go up on the rooftop patio for a bit. It has a pool, although the weather doesn´t favor it. But I can see the city and read for a bit as it is still siesta hour.

the light fixture and roof top is a typical street view

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