Sevilla – Beautiful Architecture, a Bull Fight and a Whole Lot of Culture

Posted by on Apr 27, 2012 in Blog, Spain | Comments Off on Sevilla – Beautiful Architecture, a Bull Fight and a Whole Lot of Culture

Our next destination was Sevilla which would take us about three days of cycling to get to.  The ride there was moderately hilly and moderately wet. Our first Spanish campsite was well hidden and located down a mountainous side road just over the border. I tried telling Anja we could camp without the worry of rain because we were situated in a “rain shadow”, but she returned to me the typical look of amusement when I try being an amateur meteorologist. Contrary to my assessment, it did rain on us albeit very little. The next day we made a strong move for Sevilla and decided to stop for the night when we spotted a campground in Cortegana. When we checked in the friendly manager kept asking us if we were really sure we wanted to camp with our tent. We did notice that we were the only tent on the campground besides some large camper vans but of course we wanted to stay there. The campsite did have some nice amenities including a really hot and powerful shower, free internet, and a common room which served as a retreat from the cold weather outside. Little did we know that it was going to be pouring rain all night and we were able to discover how well our tent and rain gear would hold up.

The following morning was a drippy mess of uncomfortableness as a good amount of moisture had made its way into the tent. There were puddles of water under our mattress pads and a lot of our gear was moist.  At this point we decided that we would like to spend the next night in a nice hotel room so that we could dry our gear.  We picked a midpoint to Sevilla and were happy to find a romantic retreat. This came at a crucial point to help us find some much needed comfort. Speaking of comfort, my back pain has subsided since the last blog post. The fix came from adjusting my seat higher to provide more arch in the lower back. Prior to this adjustment the pain was so bad I wasn’t sure if I could go on with this trip so I am happy that I am doing better. Now my right knee is hurting at times but I am confident I will find a fix for that as well.

We had heard from a friend that right outside Sevilla was Italica, an area home to some impressive ancient roman ruins. When we arrived there the security guards confirmed to us that we could take our bikes inside after we pay the entrance fee. We decided to have a quick lunch outside the gate before checking out the ruins.  Right when we were finishing our last bites we noticed that they were closing the gates. Our impromptu snack break had kept us from getting in on time. What a letdown! Carrying on to Sevilla was easy work with a favorable wind at our backs and a downhill route.

Sevilla turned out to be a wonderful visit. The approach into town with our bikes was a little messy, navigating through a local un-official trash dump, complete with a random wandering horse and stray dog packs, but once Anja and I were in the city center we were greeted with wondrous architecture, smooth bike lanes everywhere and warm sunny skies. Anja had been excited to come here. She had lived in Kansas City where a part of the town was built after Sevilla architecture and now she was ready to see the real thing, much larger and in all its glory. Spending two nights in Sevilla was definitely a great time but too short for a city so steeped in history.

We checked into the Oasis backpackers hostel which was my first hostel experience. For those of you who are backpacking or trekking you probably know that this mode of accommodation is very fun and affordable. Due to availability we ended up in an 8-person mixed dorm. We shared the room with a group of co-ed Australian college students who were backpacking their way through Europe. Anja was speechless when a strapping young Aussie wearing nothing but his tight red underwear asked her if he could turn off the lights, Anja could do nothing but nod and blush.  We also met a very nice yoga teacher lady named Tashi, also from Australia.

The next day we took a walking tour which guided us around the city pointing out some of the most interesting spots including much attention given to Columbus and the subsequent city installments following the discovery of the new world.  Two of the highlights were the Plaza de Espania and the Cathedral of St. Mary of the Sea also known as Sevilla Cathedral, the largest gothic cathedral in the world and the reported burial place of Christopher Columbus. Anja could not get enough pictures of this impressive building. As described by our tour guide the cathedral was built on-top of an ancient Mosque which gave the building a very diverse feeling. Just looking at it, you get a sense that the building grew from the imaginations of several very different cultures and time periods. In this great city there is just so much culture and history to take in, we felt it would take a month just to get started. Anja kept fanaticizing about just that.

Another aspect of Sevilla culture we were introduced to was a Flamenco singing, dancing and clapping performance provided by the hostel. Apparently the clap is a very important part. I was afraid as a spectator to join in as I didn’t want to throw off the rhythm and upset the performers. As usual, food is everywhere and was our biggest opportunity to blow our money, and we did spend little bit. We had one night of mediocre tapas followed by another night of awesome tapas. For the second night of tapas we did not mind paying 3 euros per tiny plate when the setting was something out of a movie with the Sevilla Cathedral as a back drop.

We only had one regret and that was attending a bullfight. We saw the banners everywhere and purchased tickets off a street vendor without thinking about it very much. It was only after we had the tickets in hand Anja did some research and became apprehensive about following though. I knew it would not be pleasant, but I insisted that we carry on and attend it. After the event I must say I wished we had not contributed our money to such a thing, we felt that our curiosity and the same curiosity of other tourists might be one of the only things keeping the industry alive. We have both agreed to contribute an equal amount to an opposing charity to get our moral situation rectified. To summarize the whole fight, they basically kill the poor beast and then drag it around the dirt ring like a prize, and from the start the bull was purposely handicapped to not put up much of a fight. We both agreed that it would be nice if they could figure out some way of creating a game between the bulls and the “fighters” where no blood is involved but instead fighters and bulls could earn points and rise up in ranks.

We were both sad to leave the city the next day. There was a lot more to explore and it was such a clean pleasant place to stroll around. After the first couple of kilometers we even turned our bikes around to head back to the Plaza de Espana for some more pictures and to just chill there. When we were finally ready to leave I wanted to head out of the city on the flattest and easiest route possible to reach our next destination Marbella on the south coast of Spain. But that route changed just prior to leaving the city when we encountered a nice guy from Germany who had some insights on southern Spain.

Our travel map.

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