Madre mia! We just came back from a long holiday puente in Sevilla, a weekend that marked Día de la Constitución, the official Monday after Constitution Day, and La Immaculada (Dec. 6-8). In addition to the 700,000 regular inhabitants of Sevilla, we rubbed shoulders, and other body parts, with the extra tens of thousands of Spaniards who thronged to the casco antiguo through all hours of the day and night with their children, strollers, grandmothers, cousins, friends, aunts, grandfathers, uncles, ham sandwiches, and cigarettes.
It was great! These folks really know how to dress: seamed stockings, ankle boots and merino wool ponchos for the gals; sweaters, cool haircuts and fine leather shoes for the gents. Little boys wore knee socks, shorts, cardigans and itty-bitty bow ties, and the girls donned leggings, skirts and fringed suede boots. No afternoon or evening paseo would be complete without an abuela or two dozen, decked out in smart wool skirts with matching jackets. A singular sartorial style failed to mark the abuelos, but there they were quaffing a cerveza or vino tinto in the myriad cafes that spilled out onto the narrow streets of the old city.
Most of the weekend was spent wondering when J.’s front tooth was going to fall out. Would it happen on the bike ride by the Rio Guadalquivir? on the ferris wheel — La Noria — high above the city? in the 14th century Alcázar? or on the horse and buggy ride through the city streets?
Compared to Granada the city of Sevilla is flat, and there is no dog poop on the streets. We repeat: No hay excrementos de los perros en la calle!
Admittedly, there is a tiny bit of horse poop, but that is a small price to pay for the thrill of getting stuck in a horse-and-buggy traffic jam.
If you are able to visit Sevilla, we recommend a good week or more to explore the city. From the Rio Guadalquivir we rode our bikes to Metropol Parasol, but could only bask in its shadow as we had no time to explore the Roman ruins underneath. Our timing to visit the world’s largest Cathedral was off, and so we missed climbing the Giralda and therefore cannot offer you the requisite “family-atop-a-high structure” photograph in this post, a standard photo featured in previous postings, for which we receive lots of comments in the Reply section of this blog.
On the other hand, we had plenty of time to explore the Alcázar, climb the Torre del Oro, and chat with a few locals.
The city was lively, and though thousands of Spaniards had stuffed themselves into the old part of Sevilla like a fine Iberian chorizo encased in its translucent intestinal sleeve, a kilometer away one could find peace and quiet at the Plaza de Espańa, or by slipping down a flagstoned side street that led to interesting shop windows.
Eventually, the inevitable arrived. We made our way to the part of the old city known as the judería. It is an oft told tale from days gone by in Andalucía: a vibrant and industrious Jewish quarter of town is obliterated in the 14th century due to fanatical outbursts from powerful and pious religious lunatics who happen not to be Jewish. At the Centro de Interpretación Judería de Sevilla we learned that the city was once home to over 4,000 people of the Jewish persuasion and over twenty synagogues. Now, a small population of Jews are returning: currently there are around 23 Jewish families and 2 synagogues. This turns out to be a whopping increase from approximately .00575 synagogues per person in Medieval times to an astounding .0217 per person in contemporary Sevilla. Things are starting to look up!
J.’s tooth finally came out on our way to a vegetarian restaurant one evening. Miraculously, the tooth fairy figured out where we were staying on Calle Zaragoza, so the trip was not a total waste.