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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... ...plus bedroom... ...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
We were tired after our long day-trip to Granada but still had to be up at a reasonable time on Friday morning to check out of our apartment and move on to the final destination of this holiday: Seville. We had chosen to go to Seville for no very good reason except that it has an airport from which we managed to book a Ryanair flight back to Stansted for a reasonable price, and so long before we had planned the rest of our itinerary it was established that we would finish up here. What we hadn't appreciated was quite how far south it was and - by extension - quite how hot it was going to be! We travelled to Seville by train, which felt like an achievement in itself after some of our experiences with Spanish public transport over the past two weeks. The apartment we had booked was only 2km away from the station and we had plenty of time before we needed to check in, so walking seemed like a good idea. It had been a warm day when we left Cordoba that morning, but the heat which hit us when we stepped out of Sevilla Santa-Justa was a whole new level. We heard later that Seville is sometimes referred to as 'the frying pan of Europe' and it seems to be a reputation which is well deserved. Despite the heat the first kilometre or so of our walk passed off without incident. Or, at least, as well as could be expected since the Curse of the Suitcase Wheel had struck again in Madrid. As we got nearer the older part of town, however, we were slightly distressed to find that the pavements disappeared. The roads were narrow, wide enough for a single car, with a small strip of pavement along one side which would suddenly peter out, switch to the opposite side of the road, then vanish all together. This would have made pulling any sort of suitcase a nightmare but it was particularly difficult given the broken state of mine. There was a surprising amount of traffic on such small roads and at one point when we had to squeeze ourselves up against the side of a building to let cars past we were stranded there for several minutes until one driver took pity on us and allowed us to drag our suitcases down the road to the next strip of pavement. Lesson learned - always take a taxi in Seville! When we eventually arrived at the apartment it wasn't quite as glamorous as the one we had just left in Cordoba (I suspect no apartment will ever seem impressive again after that one!) but it did have very good air-conditioning which was a blessing. We unpacked, cooled down, did a bit of shopping and then went out to get dinner.... only to find that all the restaurants were closed and not due to open until 9pm. We had read in the guidebook - and been warned by one of the Spanish Esperantists - that people in Seville have different body-clock settings to the rest of us and that we were likely to find the town deserted in the afternoons, but full of life in the early hours of the morning. I had thought perhaps this was an exaggeration, but no; it seems that in Seville dinner time is from 9pm to 11pm and in the afternoon everyone goes to bed. We retired to the apartment to eat emergency Pringles and try not to think about how hungry we were! We emerged again at 9 and found a really nice Indian restaurant (Tim wasn't keen to try any more Spanish cuisine after his Gazpacho!!!) and had a lovely, if somewhat late, meal. Our plan was to get up early on Saturday morning and explore Seville before it got too hot, but having eaten and then gone to bed so late the night before it didn't quite work out. When we did emerge into what was already a scorchingly hot day, our first impression was that Seville smelled. It really, really smelled. Of horse Out of all the places we've been on the holiday Seville is definitely the most touristy, and in addition to a lot of tacky souvenir shops and annoying waiters who stand in the street to try and entice you into their restaurants, a consequence of that is that there are seemingly hundreds of horse-drawn carriages taking visitors on sight-seeing tours around the city. At the best of times, horses smell. But with so many horses and temperatures so high, the whole city smells like an allotment which has just been covered in manure. Trying not to inhale too deeply, we made our way through the narrow side streets to see the cathedral. According to the guidebook, the cathedral in Seville is one of the largest churches in the world, with its size in cubic metres being greater than that of St Paul's in London or St Peter's in Rome. It did look rather enormous, and it was difficult to fit all of it into a photo. The cathedral was set in a pretty square... (I borrowed the hat off Tim because it was so sunny!!) At the far end of the square was a striking red gate, the entrance to the royal palace in Seville. We didn't think it would be able to compete with the palaces we had seen in Granada earlier in the week, so we didn't pay to go in. From the cathedral we strolled through more of the old town towards what we hoped would be the shade of the Parque de Maria Luisa. On the way we saw the stunning Palace of San Telmo, which is the seat of the president of the Andulusian local government. The park used to form the grounds of the palace but was donated to the city as a public park at the end of the nineteenth century and remodelled for the Ibero-American Exposition which took place in the park in 1929. At the centre of the park is the Plaza de España, a huge square housing the main buildings which were constructed for the exhibition. It sounds strange to say but some of the most beautiful parts of the square were the lampposts.... ...and the bridges. The rest of the park was also very attractive. There were tiled fountains... ...a big duck pond... ...and water features which were reminiscent of the Generalife. When we had finished exploring the gardens we crossed a bridge over the river Guadalquivir, intending to stroll along the river back into the town centre. Unfortunately we somehow managed to end up in a large housing estate, which wasn't terribly scenic. We made it back into town in the end and found one of Seville's other key sights, the Torre del Oro. This tower on the banks of the river used to function as a military watchtower and a prison. We had some lovely views across the river to the colourful houses on the other side. Seville probably hasn't been our favourite destination of the holiday, but we have still had a wonderful time in Spain and definitely hope to return at some point on one of our future holidays