Algarve—Seville day 1

Wednesday 10 July 2013

We drove back to Faro in the little Fiat Punto with Susie dozing off in the front seat. The Europcar office provided a free shuttle service to Faro Airport, where we caught a metro bus back to the dismal bus station. Its only saving grace was that the small cafe there sold natas (Portuguese tarts). They were not as good as the amazing natas we had sampled in Belém in Lisbon, in the famous pasteleria with tiled rooms that seem to go on for ever like some kind of Iberian Tardis. But they were natas; it was lunchtime, and there were only two left. Ruby was the first to succumb to temptation.

We boarded an EVA bus from Faro to Seville at 13:55 and finished the second leg of our Iberian holiday—the journey South through Portugal. This was originally conceived as a kind of side-trip to complement the main attraction, which was Spain. But Portugal had turned out to be much more than a side-trip. We now understood why our friends Sue and Jim say that of all countries in Europe, this is the one that they always try to get back to. Every stop in Portugal had been a delight, and we were left with a powerful desire to learn more about the language, culture and history of this place.

In the meantime, what lay ahead of us was the final leg of our journey through Andalucía and then back to Madrid. Following our usual rule of thumb to choose our destinations carefully and not rush all over the place, we had decided to spend seven nights in Seville and three nights in Córdoba. There are many other places that we would love to have visited. We were about to find out why Seville enjoys such a great reputation. Córdoba turned out to be the Dark Horse of our travels.

When the bus pulled into the station in Seville, the temperature on the street was 43°C. We caught a taxi directly to our apartment, which was located in Calle Pacheco y Nuñez del Prado, in the Macarena district just north the Alameda. Most of the tourist accommodation is centred on the district of Santa Cruz, which is where many of Seville’s most famous sights are located. Macarena turned out to be an excellent choice, however, because the best night life and tapas bars are there, and you will find more Sevillanas enjoying them than tourists. Also, because the vehicular traffic on the Alameda is restricted to one narrow lane in each direction, it is a very pleasant place to hang out when the heat of the day has dissipated. The big drawcards around Santa Cruz are only a pleasant walk or a short taxi ride away.

Our apartment had two bedrooms, so Ruby had something more comfortable than a foldaway bed to sleep on. The apartment also had air-conditioning, which was a blessing—although the control seemed to be stuck on 18°C, which is too cold for comfort, and therefore a waste of energy.

On our first night we went out to a tapas Bar called Republica where Ruby had a memorable gazpacho that featured blended strawberries. This was to be the first of many pleasurable evenings on the Alameda, with its tall shady trees and children running around in the evening letting off steam. The following is a photo looking down our street from a tower located at one end of it (this will feature in a future post).

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