Sunday, September 12, 2004

Well, Lois, One of Us Is In the Mile-High Club

Sevilla

It is going to be a freaking miracle if I remember any of what went on...

So we arrived in Sevilla late Tuesday night, having made only a peripheral-on-the-way stop in Córdoba, which I resent highly. And when I say resent, I mean RESENT. However, the good thing about Sevilla was that we got to stay in a four-star hotel. We're talking marble tubs, here, and candies on the bedside tables. We're also talking 185€/night for a double. HOLY CRAP. It was great, though, even though we had three people in a double.
After getting to Sevilla, the group got together to go to dinner. We went to this restaurant called El Rey Moro. When we showed up, there was bread and this olive spread on the table. "Oh, how nice," we all said. "Aperitifs." After a minute, they came out with plates full of tuna and romaine lettuce. "Wow! They really treat you well here!"
Then came the cheese plate...
and the toast with the tomato-garlic spread and the Iberian ham...
and the pieces of what I at first thought were calamari but ended up being fried pickled dogfish with lemon (stop recoiling, it was good)...
and THEN came our entrees...
and then the raspberry cheesecake (it was pretty nasty, but they tried).

I LOVE THIS COUNTRY.

The next day, we were scheduled to visit the Cathedral and the Real Alcázar. We didn't have a tour until 1, so Jessica and I decided to go wander around the city for a while. Let me tell you - ALL we were trying to do was go the five blocks from the cathedral to the hotel. Are you surprised that we got lost for an hour? On our travels, we encountered some charming construction workers. Let me tell you how that went.
Allison: Jess, I think if we walk right up this road we'll get to the cathedral.
Jessica: *dubious* Ok. But those are...
Allison: ...construction workers. It'll be ok, I think. Yes. Please let it be ok.
*Allison and Jessica walk down the street, heads down and hips twitching as little as possible*
Construction Worker: Pre-tty. Pre-tty wo-man. Pre-tty wo-man.
Allison: *whispering* He sounds like a parrot.
Jessica: Who cares, just walk!
Approximately 20 minutes later, we realized that we had somehow ended up back at the hotel. We turned around and went back...and found ourselves at the same intersection again.

We decided it was worth the risk of getting lost to find a new route.

Let me tell you that that is the tamest catcall I have gotten so far.

Later, we toured the cathedral. I have seldom been so bored in my entire life. It is possible that someone took pictures of the building, but we may all have been asleep on our feet. I would actually not be surprised about that. It's really sad, because it was this cool old Gothic building and the tour guide was so bad that he made me become less interested as time wore on. Christopher Columbus might be buried there, but they're not sure. They're carbon-dating the bones that are labeled as his to see. I think that's pretty cool.

After the cathedral we went to the Real Alcázar. This was when I went into a restaurant to use the bathroom and the group picked up and left without me. I WAS SO PISSED. I take less time in the bathroom than any girl I know! I wasn't gone more than a minute...they could have waited...bah. At least I got to go back to the hotel (and not get lost) and rest my feet. I watched a cooking show and understood it all except for the part when they were talking about berries I don't know the names of.

According to Jessica, after that we went to the Plaza de España of Sevilla. I remember that vaguely. Big building, pretty fountain, Allison was very tired. I think I had an ice cream. The problem with gigantic tours is that all the days blend together.

The next morning I am fairly sure we went shopping for a while before heading to

Granada

What did we do in Granada?

I don't remember...

OH! We went to la Capilla Real, which was super-cool because it's where Ferdinand and Isabella (of Christopher Columbus fame) are buried, as is their daughter and her husband (Juana la Loca y Felipe el Hermoso). It was this awesome church because it was built in Gothic style after the Gothic period had actually ended, so you can see all the Renaissance notes added into it. After la Capilla Real wasssss...

La Alhambra

which merits its own section because it was incredibly, unbelieveably, mindbogglingly cool.

La Alhambra is this fort/castle at the top of a hill overlooking Granada that was built by the Moors when they controlled the city. It was the seat of the Sultanate of the Nasrid Dynasty, which ruled all Muslim holdings in Spain. It was a self-sufficient colony, including the summer and official palaces of the sultan as well as a town whose inhabitants grew fruit, herded goats, and generally provided resources for the sultan. It has a pretty constant supply of water, since it's on the edge of a mountain range and gets springs from melted snow (can you tell how excited I am about this place?) It is the best-preserved Muslim palace in Spain, or some such statistic. What I can tell you is that

IT IS THE COOLEST PLACE EVER.

So you go in and the first thing they have you walk through are the gardens, which were planted in the early 20th century to make it pretty-like. There's a hedge maze! My very first hedge-maze, and I had a tour guide walking me through it. From the gardens, you emerge into the Generalife, which was the summer palace of the sultan because it's up higher and gets a better breeze. Inside the Generalife, they have a garden (in a courtyard)(Uncle Chris, pay attention, you'll like this) where they have excavated the pollen and carbon-dated it in order to exactly reproduce what the gardens looked like in the mid-14th century.

THEY EXCAVATED POLLEN.

And you know, the tour guide was amazing and was explaining all this stuff about the architecture and the math and the fountains (which are all powered completely by gravity, don't waste water, and are everywhere and totally beautiful) - there was so much that I couldn't possibly reproduce it all here. But let me assure you, were I to take you to the Alhambra right now you would come away as educated as you would have been with a real tour guide.

Actually - funny story - I'd studied the place before, of course, because I'm an Art History major and that's what I do. So that led to me asking the tour guide many many questions and generally making a nuisance of myself. However - I think he appreciated it - because while we were on break he took me (just me!) to see the original portal that you don't enter by anymore, and at the end he gave me the receipt of our entrances as a souvenir.

I sucked up and it worked! And I didn't even mean to suck up, I was just excited! I am still excited! I like exclamation points!!!!!!!!!11!!!!!1

After the Alhambra, I got sick and went home because we'd had some sketchy pizza for lunch. I skipped dinner and the optional walk to see the Alhambra all lit up at night. I was sad. Then the next morning we went to the Cathedral of Granada, which was such a hodgepodge of architectural styles that it gave me a pounding headache. Then we went home. Hurray! We were tired. Luckily, the majority of the group had elected to stay the weekend, so there were fewer than ten of us on the bus and we got to stretch out over the seats. And play cards, which are naipes in Spanish.

Spades. And I'm learning Texas HoldEm.

Sweet.

PICTURES!:

The courtyard of the Sevilla Cathedral, view from the Giralda (ex-minaret):


The Generalife, the summer palace located within the Alhambra where they excavated the gardens:


Nuria and Eva (our charming program directors) on the Patio de Arrayanes in the Alhambra:


The Alhambra from without:


Our group at the Alhambra:


That crazy plasterwork I kept going on about:

3 Comments:

Blogger :D said...

I love Texas hold'em. And your trip sounds AMAZING. And I am impressed at the kind of architecturally educated mind that could produce a headache upon confrontation with a hodgepodge of architectural styles.

9/12/2004 2:23 PM  
Blogger Chris Clarke said...

In fact, I have found myself looking at graphed results of pollen excavations and actually finding them interesting, more than once, in the past few years. But the ones I've been looking at go back 20,000 years or so, in the Mojave, and provide information as to climate (there were forests in the Mojave 13,000 years ago.)

Never thought of using the practice for figuring out 700-year-old gardens tho.

9/13/2004 12:10 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Spain, and I googled "Alhambra Garden" and found that fantastic image you have. I would really like to use it as the photo image in my credit card, but the site said I would need the artist's permission.

So as random as this may seem, I would like to have yor permission to use that awesome image. :)

Thank you very much.

7/13/2010 6:11 PM  

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