Fantastic Flamenco “wows” us in Seville!! After having not been impressed with the flamenco dancing exhibition in the town square at Mijas …. OK ….. it was free – what do you expect, we were gobsmacked by the Flamenco Show at Los Gallos, Seville. We had heard that Seville was the reported “centre” of Flamenco in Spain. We now know why!! We enjoyed the purest, traditional dance, song and guitar flamenco in the oldest Tabloa in Seville with the best artists! These guys and gals could really dance! It was a remarkable experience we shared with Anneke and Warren! A “must see” if you are ever in Seville. Unfortunately, no photos allowed during the performance but took one of the artistic stage backdrop & we managed to hijack the “star” of the show as he was leaving!!
Like all good Spanish cities, the centre of Seville has a vibrant “old town”. Seville is inland AND was a major trading / shipping port. The navigable River Guadalquivir was far enough from the sea that the Pirates struggled to get there unseen – so was a safe harbour in those days. Christopher Columbus set sail from here to discover the Americas in 1492. The two main sight-seeing attractions are the Cathedral and The Alcazar.
The Alcázar of Seville (or “Royal Alcazars of Seville”) is a royal palace in Seville, Spain, originally a Moorish fort. The historical evolution of the city in the last 1,000 years is held within its walls and gardens, amalgamating influences starting from the Arabic period, late Middle Ages Mudéjar right through to the Renaissance, Baroque and the 19th century. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. We took a small group tour – 10 of us – and had an in-depth look at the section built in 1248!! And parts of the gardens. A very large area in the centre of Seville surrounded by a wall – not a castle wall – more of a privacy wall – 3m high and not very thick. http://www.alcazarsevilla.org/website/?p=129
Seville’s cathedral was built to demonstrate the cities wealth, as it had become a major trading centre in the years after the Reconquista in 1248. The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See (Spanish: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede), better known as Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral and the third-largest church in the world. It was built on the site of a Mosque built in 1184. When the city was captured from the Islamic Moors, most of the mosque was levelled and the cathedral built – 1248 (same time as the Alcazar). After its completion in the early 16th century, the Seville Cathedral supplanted Hagia Sophia (in Istanbul, Turkey) as the largest cathedral in the world, a title the Byzantine church had held for nearly a thousand years. The cathedral is also the burial site of Christopher Columbus.
At the southernmost tip of Spain, we are amazed at what we stumble across!!… Literally 100’s of kite and wind surfers crowd the beach of Tarifa ! Renowned as a “wind mecca”, we were nearly blown off our feet. Strong, constant cross-shore breeze, not excessive waves, enclosed area (almost a bay), wide white sandy beach …. We understand why they host “world” kite/wind surfing competitions here.
Heading further along the coast (North-west) we camp in a basic, rural, agricultural setting/camp ground, in a small village of Sanlucar de Barrameda. Up the road was a small café/bar/restaurant where we order a few tapas for dinner. After the barman takes our order, he turns & yells out for his madre (mum) that she is needed in the kitchen. Shortly she appears, compete with her hair wrapped in a towel & we think a dressing gown on !?!?! Family business for sure! The large screen TV is showing live bullfighting. We have hit the start of the season in Madrid. It is very gruesome and cruel, we didn’t enjoy it! The old Spanish guy sitting next to us is mesmerised & tries to tell us what is happening! No English speaking in this bar (or town actually!) so we only understand key words – but it doesn’t help us get involved in the bullfighting!! Three days later, the same three bullfighters were seriously injured by the bull they had provoked with “spears” and swords! What did they expect!?!?! They kill six bulls each night at the bullfight and 2,000 last year! In Portugal, they don’t kill the bull. In the Catalunya region of Spain (around Barcelona area) they have banned bullfighting. Good move!!
Evidence that we are cooking…. Spanish Omelette.
It is always good not to stand out too much as tourists & so Mark has been growing his hair long enough to have a pony-tail!?! Mmmmm…. However… I found a very good looking barber in the village & he gave Mark a sexy Spanish style cut!! Ha!
Beautiful town square with purple bougainvillea. Check out the bird at the top of picture?
Some of the sights on the road!!!.
We did a quick back-track to Malaga to get our repaired awning “reattached” and then hit the road again.
Mark had heard about a Solar Farm near Sanlucar la Mayor and the tourist offices knew little of it. SO – drive around till we find it was what we did!. A private company has created a solar farm to generate electricity using at least four different technologies to generate power from the sun. The one farm will power Seville – a city of 1.5 million. The one plant that fascinated Mark was the PS20 plant!! 1,255 mirrors reflecting the sun’s rays to an opening at the top of a 165m tower where a solar receiver and a steam turbine are located. Steam is created and used to drive a turbine that produces electricity. Each mirror (or heliostat) is 120m2, individually computer controlled to follow the sun and reflect to the central point. It was a cloudy day but you could still see the energy concentrating at the top of the tower – it “glowed” as all that reflected light hit the top. Like a “halo”. The tower looked like it was being hosed with giant sprays of water or was somehow being squirted with jets of pale gas. In fact, the rays of sunlight reflected by the mirrors are so intense they illuminate the water vapour and dust hanging in the air. The system is under enormous pressure, 50 bar and is superheated to 285° Celsius. The energy is also being stored (in liquefied salt) to continue to drive the turbines at night!! AAHHA! Solar power at night too!!
Today we crossed the border, over the bridge, into Portugal. Not long after, we pull over for the night in an Aire (car park really). There is a knock on the door. A young Portuguese girl, about 10, is selling large trays of delicious strawberries! We realize that we need to learn some Portuguese ASAP as we didn’t understand what the cost was. She is happy when Bev gives her too much money…. She understood “keep the change”!! Bev has spent the afternoon on “Google Translate” to get up-to-speed with the basic words and numbers… ready and excited to now explore & learn about another country and it’s culture.