We had another big day of travelling ahead of us today, as we left El Puerto de Santa Maria behind and travelled towards our final destination of Cordoba. We weren't allowed to check into our apartment in Cordoba until 5pm, which left us with quite a bit of time to fill as the drive itself was due to take less than three hours.
When looking at the map, I realised that our route would take us right around the outskirts of Seville. We'd visited Seville during our 2014 trip to Spain and it wasn't a place which was high on our list of destinations we wanted to revisit. We'd been there in July, which probably isn't the best time to visit this part of Spain, and the temperatures were unbearably hot. My main memory is arriving in mid-afternoon, having struggled to pull a broken suitcase down a series of streets with very narrow pavements, and having to sit in the apartment eating Pringles because the restaurants didn't start serving dinner until 9pm. My other abiding memory is that Seville smelled terrible, with the centre of town being dominated by horse-drawn carriages. So I wasn't exactly desperate to go back
That said, Seville was the obvious place to break our journey today and so we decided to give it a second chance. I had a premonition that driving/parking in Seville could be a bit nightmarish, so I researched whether there was anything like a "park and ride" system. It turns out that Seville has a metro and I read that a couple of the metro stations on the outskirts of town have free carparks. We drove towards one of these metro stations, a place called San Juan Bajo, and were pleasantly surprised to find that there was indeed a large free carpark with plenty of spaces
It was also one of the most scenic places we've ever parked; there was a beautiful view up towards this church on a hill above us.
Metro tickets cost a couple of Euros each and we were soon on our way towards the city centre. We hadn't done a huge amount of Seville research in advance of this trip, but had decided to get off the metro at a station called Puerta Jerez which seemed reasonably central.
We emerged into an impressive square, complete with flowers and Christmas decorations.
In the distance we could see a large tower and, of course, one of the ubiquitous horse and carriages.
The good news is that because the weather was so much cooler than in July - and there was quite a strong breeze today at times - the smell of horses never became overwhelming
Our vague plan was to walk towards a square we remembered from our previous visit to Seville - Plaza de España - so we set off in that direction.
The square was well signposted and we found it without too many difficulties...
...although when we arrived, the entire square turned out to be in a state of chaos.
Initially I thought they were having a car boot sale, but later it seemed more like it was a rally of classic cars
It didn't matter; Plaza de España was still beautiful
One of the things I do remember really loving about Seville first time around were the amazing tiles in this square.
The lampposts are particularly ornate.
When we first came here we'd never been to Portugal, but now that we have it does feel very reminiscent of some of the tiles we've seen there
The square itself is enormous and was built in 1929 to host an Ibero-American exposition.
Around the edge of the square are these very ornate benches, which seem to be dedicated to each of the major regions in Spain.
We found the one for Salamanca, which was one of our favourites places during our 2014 Spain trip
There's also some water in the middle of the square, which is crossed via these beautiful bridges.
All in all it's a very impressive square
Star Wars fans may also recognise it from the film Attack of the Clones, where it was featured in scenes of the planet Naboo.
It was much easier to enjoy the scenery without the baking heat from last time we were here. It's by no means cold here in November, though; it was warm enough today for ice-cream, so we enjoyed one as we strolled around the gardens outside the square.
Seville seems to be a surprisingly green city.
We made our way back into the city centre via a series of parks...
...and leafy avenues.
We knew we had hit the centre when we got our first glimpse of Seville's cathedral.
The cathedral in Seville is absolutely enormous; one of the largest churches in the world.
It's impossible to give a proper impression of its size in photos...
...because you can only ever fit a small part of it on the screen.
We were impressed anyway, but we were also hungry by this point so we set off on a search for food. That ended up taking a bit longer than I expected! There were lots of restaurants in Seville, but many of them only had a few outdoor tables and were already full; it looked like Sunday was a popular day for Spanish people to go out for lunch. We eventually found a nice Italian restaurant that managed to squeeze us in. We enjoyed some lasagne/tagliatelle, followed by delicious Nutella pancakes
After lunch we had a bit more time to explore Seville.
Honestly, walking around some of these streets I wouldn't have known that I'd ever been to Seville before
I loved these enormous trees, cut into box shapes.
And also this building with the striped domed roof.
We walked through various squares, on our way back to the Puerta Jerez metro station.
We passed the cathedral again, but still couldn't fit it all in one photo.
We were impressed by this massive door, which had some incredible detail.
Leaving the cathedral behind, we got back on the metro and picked up our car.
From there we had a drive or another 90 minutes or so until we reached the apartment we are renting in Cordoba. It's nothing too spectacular on the inside, with a kitchen, living room...
...but the great thing about it is that it comes with a space in a parking garage Cordoba is another place where I think it would be really difficult to park if you didn't have an allocated space.
It got dark shortly after we arrived here so we haven't seen much of Cordoba yet, but we really enjoyed it when we were here in 2014 so looking forward to seeing more of it tomorrow. And Seville has definitely redeemed itself in my eyes after today's visit; I would go back again, just maybe not in summer