Friday, September 21, 2012

Sevilla

There's just no substitute for the best, once you've had the best. In Sevilla I happened to walk past a sign for hot chocolate and churros. Having had (supposedly) the best in the world in Madrid, I kinda/sorta expected a similar experience. WRONG. They were the worst churros I've ever eaten, and I've eaten more than my fair share in Mexico. In San Miguel de Allende (Mexico) there was a vendor in the Nigromonte market who pulled them right out of the fryer and stuck them into little white sacks after giving them just a shake of sugar. And of course there was that delectable experience in Madrid on San Gines street....read about it in Foodie Fun. However, the churros in Sevilla were cooked in oil that wasn't hot, they were gooey inside and dripping with grease. The chocolate tasted like Hershey's cocoa powder had been dissolved in water, then heated a bit. It was extremely cheap, only 1 Euro, and thoroughly disgusting.

The monument to Cristobal Colon
and Queen Isabella commemorating
the discovery of the Americas. Sevilla
was the major port city for ships
coming from the Americas.

Surely there would be something in Sevilla to write home about.....and there is. Of course there are many tapas and wine bars, at least a dozen on the short street where my hotel is located. In the evening, they open up and the air becomes redolent with the odors of frying potatoes, fish on a grill, and roasting meats. So far, the tapas have been phenomenal and much cheaper than in Madrid. And the the ice cream, too, is superb.

Yesterday, I met an American woman named Dianna, staying in an apartment next to the hotel with her little boy Lucca. Last night the three of us went to a Flamenco dance concert. It was amazing. For the entire month of September, there is a biannual Flamenco competition here, with performances all over town. This one was just up the street in a small venue with a wooden platform in the center for the dancers and three chairs for the musicians. An intimate and wonderful exhibition of their athletic and artistic prowess. Lucca stayed up way past his bedtime and was entranced by the incredible footwork of the male dancer. So was I. His feet went so fast, he appeared to float across the stage to staccato music.

Homemade ice cream displayed to passing
tourists. Made fresh daily with local ingredients.
Today, the three of us went out on the town again. This time to the intercity bus station where I purchased my tickets to Rio Gordo for Monday, and so we could all explore a little different part of town. They had brought a scooter for Lucca, so he wheeled along on that as we walked down the wide sidewalks in that newer part of town. It was brilliant, he didn't expend as much energy as we did, and so never became exhausted and whiney. We stopped to eat at a little traditional restaurant that serves Andalusian cuisine. But first we picked up a Happy Meal at McDonalds for Lucca. Dianna and I split an order of Paella and found the dish to write home about. It was such a far cry from the pathetic glop I'd gotten in Madrid at Cafe y Te. This one was loaded with shell fish, shrimp, white asparagus, and two large langostinos, one for each of us. The rice was flavorful, not at all sticky or gooey, with peas and tiny pieces of onion and garlic, almost unseen, but definitely part of the blended flavors. We had to wait almost 45 minutes for it to be prepared from scratch, but it was worth every minute. Dianna has been here for a week, and had almost given up searching for excellent food. She'd just been going to the tourist joints, now she knows what to look for. We brought about half of it back with us, and will have it for breakfast tomorrow.

Meanwhile, I have not been going to all the museums but have been content to walk around and just see this lovely city with it's tall palm trees, well maintained parks, beautiful public art, landmarks such as the Torre del Oro, and scoundrels with one scam after another to rake over the tourists. I'm awfully embarassed to admit that I got taken in a palm-reading scenario, but the next time a woman grabbed my hand and tried to tell me about my grandchildren and super long life, I said that her sort had already robbed me, and yanked my hand back. Sigh. Live and learn.

Riding Bikes is big in Sevilla. The red fender bikes
are part of a club you can join, then using a card,
you take a bike for a spin, and return it to any of many
bike stations around town. 
An "Indian" street performer, floating
above the sidewalk. 
Fountain and statue at Plaza de Jerez.

Lots of horse drawn carriages

Most of the narrow streets around
the Cathedral are devoted to upscale
stores and walking customers.

Flying Buttress on the Cathedral

More public art with fountains.