We had to pick up our tickets, so we decided to have breakfast at the train station; this turned out to be a good idea, as even though the place we picked apparently only had two people running it, the sandwiches were quite good. After spending too much time seething over missed shots in the lovely light while waiting for the 32 Bus into the old town, we boarded the crowded vehicle.
The old part of Sevilla kind of reminds me, this time around anyway, of the Old Quarter of Hanoi in Vietnam. This is not a compliment. I mostly missed Sevilla during my last visit due to a stomach illness requiring me to be bed-ridden for three days, subsisting on cherries. This time I got a better feel for the place, and I came away kind of wanting to wash my hands.
One of the first things we saw upon disembarking was a huge, long, vast line of mostly young women in line for free make-up at a cosmetics store. The second was a large, raucous protest by people in medical garb demanding more hospitals. We made our way to the big cathedral from which that bastard Christopher Columbus embarked on his genocidal journey, and where he finally ended up. Or his body did, anyway. There was a long line, of course, and there were protests when we joined Chenbl, who had saved us a space. It turned out, however, that Chenbl, who has a cold and a runny nose, had ducked into a pharmacy and bought some cold medicine that was so strong it nearly knocked him out. So while the others toured the cathedral, I sat by a sleeping Chenbl on a bench in the atrium making sure he didn’t get robbed blind.
The cathedral, at least what I saw of it, was magnificent of course. It was also partially under reconstruction, and the workers glared at me when I took their pictures instead of the gilding on the altar. Classical music was being piped in from somewhere. In one of the chambers, an older man decked out in the latest, most fashionable attire (his leather bag was “The Bridge” and his pant legs were folded up to his pasty white calves) used one of his two digital Leicas to take snaps of the jewelry on display. Though a shame, it was actually rather appropriate. The other tourists cast quizzical gazes at me when I took a shot of the Leica Man. Sorry, Ted from Wisconsin…I just couldn’t help it. As we left the cathedral, fat women in scarves tried to give us leaves. I knew better than to accept anything of this sort and had to issue a severe glare and a sharp “No!” to stop the “Chico! Chico!” Carlos forgot himself and took one of the leaves, and I could hear behind me the woman insisting that he pay her for the leaf. Carlos turned around and said GRACIAS in a tone that shut her up.
Chenbl was still under the influence of the cold medicine, so we elected to take a horse cart tour around the city. This was fairly pleasant, the driver telling Carlos about the history of the city, Carlos translating it for me, and me translating it for Chenbl. With all of the translation going on, I wouldn’t be surprised if Chenbl didn’t end up thinking Seville was founded by Martians, especially in his state of mind.
After the horse cart ride, we boarded one of the open-topped tourist buses. Chenbl promptly went to sleep again, but I listened to a recording of a bored English woman tell me about the various landmarks we passed. This was actually a good way to see more of the real Seville, especially the parts across the river. Some of the descriptions of the rusting, derelict displays left over from the “Five Centuries of Oppression” celebration in 1992 were sad and pathetic, but I suppose it’s at least good that they’re on the tour.
What is it with women walking dogs in Spain? Why are there so many?
We got off at Plaza de Espana and walked around looking for a bathroom. Public bathrooms are pretty scarce on the ground here, it seems. When we approached the staff of the Citroen Bar as they were preparing to close, they flatly refused to let us borrow their restrooms, so we ended up at a nearby food fair. There we had some sausages, beef, rice and noodles, before looking for a bus back to the hotel. Chenbl was feeling better by this point, however, so we looked up a flamenco place someone had heard of. We nearly missed it, but when Carlos questioned a large, burly bald man in a suit at a door, it turned out that that was indeed the place.
The vibe inside was weird, to be honest. Water dripped from the ceiling onto the wooden tables, colored lights straight out of a dorm room flashed on and off; the bartender yelled at Carlos for some reason. We chose seats by a wall and waited for the show to start. When it did, the performers were barely visible behind a tall woman who was determined to avoid using her own eyes to gaze upon the show, looking at it through her cellphone instead. I liked what I saw of it, more than any other of the total of one flamenco shows I’ve seen. The kitchen staff seemed eager to get in on the act, bashing pans around and breaking ice at a volume greater than that of the performers. Some of the Asian members of the audience seemed to be trying to clap along, unsuccessfully.
But Chenbl was tired again, so we left and made our way back to the main road, where a large crowd was eating outside a restaurant. There we caught a bus and, accompanied by a loud, overly friendly drunk passenger, traveled back to our remote hotel location.