Saturday 13 July 2013
I tend to get up earlier than my travel companions. Maybe my coffee addiction doesn’t like me to sleep in. On Saturday, I used the early hours of the day to cook: I made a mild chickpea curry for lunch. Ruby and I then went out searching for somewhere to print our train tickets. This is a perennial problem in Spain, where the convenience of online bookings is offset by the inconvenience of having to print the tickets before you board a train or bus. Unfortunately, our search was unsuccessful.
After lunch, Ruby and Susie went on shopping expedition. This is one activity I try to avoid, not only because I don’t really understand why anyone would find shopping anything other than stressful, but also because my presence only detracts from experience of those who enjoy it. So instead, I tried again to get the tickets printed—unsuccessfully—and then returned to the apartment to write and have a siesta.
That evening we went out for tapas at Casa Paco on the Alameda, which is evidently very popular with the locals. We ordered Esparagos Gratinados (asparagus au gratin); Salmón Marinado (marinated salmon); Berenjenas con cabra y miel (eggplant with goat’s cheese and honey); Bacalau Salsa Tàrtara al Gratin (a dish made from the traditional salted cod), and Pez Espada al Vino de Naranja (swordfish orange wine). We also discovered the joys of Fragata, which is a light, sweet white wine that is perfect on hot summer evenings.
The main attraction, however, was people-watching. The vibe on Seville’s Alameda is very relaxed and inviting.
Many people who plan to travel to distant countries worry about their safety, or about getting hassled or ripped off. Keeping in mind that we are a middle-aged couple who can speak and comprehend basic Spanish—and keeping in mind that all big cities demand a certain level of vigilance and street-sense—in all the eleven weeks of our travels we have never felt intimidated, concerned for our safety, or unfairly treated. Financial transactions have been characterised by high levels of trust on both sides, and in crowded spaces like metros and busy thoroughfares, we have been struck by how gracefully and politely people treat each other. The locals have generally been incredibly tolerant of our halting Spanish or our non-existent Portuguese. We hear the odd horror story about other tourists, but nothing in our experience would lead us to issue cautionary advice. Both Spain and Portugal have been wonderful travel destinations for us, and we are so grateful to all the workers and hosts who have, in small but significant ways, made our long-service leave such a wonderful experience.