As I wrote in a prior post, we absolutely loved Portugal. So much so that Brendan and I openly discussed our concern that our time in Seville and its surrounding countryside would be a bit of a let down. We were wrong.
As we fly this morning to Rome and the huge treat of a much anticipated visit from Brendan’s parents (on my birthday no less!), I’m struggling with how to give our amazing Spanish adventures their full due on these pages. So many beautiful sights, so much good food, so many laughs, and of course so much of the misadventure that necessarily attends this Trip.
Rather than try to capture it all, I think I’ll just share yesterday, our last full day in Spain and what we called our Sevilliana Victory Tour. In some ways, it was much like other days we spent in this wonderful city. Brendan, William, and I rose early, for Spain at least (7:30), and took a final, long run along the Guadalquivir River. We then treated ourselves, and Phoebe who was awake upon our return, to cafe au lait and tostada at one of the cafes on our square, Alameda da Hercules. Later, Brendan taking one for the team, toiled away with the girls to reach our schoolwork goal for the week: Holly completing a killer essay on the Inquisition, which we now know was headquartered in Sevilla, and Coco pondering the concept of prime versus composite numbers.
Meanwhile, William led Phoebe and me to a church he had visited earlier in the week with his Spanish teacher, featuring architecture he insisted was a must see. He was right… though it turned out this beautiful exemplar of the Baroque style was also conveniently located just around the corner from his favorite spot for chorisco montadidos. A spot pretty high on my list as well. Phoebe, not so much.
Later, everyone met at home for siesta, a custom very much alive in this city (and in our family), but apparently on the wane in Madrid and Barcelona, which I consider a serious shame.
While the day was typical, the evening brought some surprises. Brendan and I presented the big kids with a scavenger hunt that we designed to lead them to some of the best places we had visited in the city, plus some new ones. (I’ve copied the clues below; some are better than others. All credit to B for the best of them!) And, while the Hunt was on, Phoebe, Brendan, and I biked and walked to the gorgeous Alfonso XIII, the most beautiful hotel in the city. There we brushed elbows with some very chi chi Spaniards who were pre-partying for a ball, while enjoying a spectacular mojito and some of the country’s best Fanta Limon.
This journey was somewhat bittersweet as it was Phoebe’s last ride on the bike we bought early in our visit and this morning left behind for a young girl in the neighborhood. Her first two wheeler, Phoebe named it “Phoebe’s Palace” (???) and rode it almost everyday in exploring the city.
The Hunt led the big kids to the hotel as well and from there we headed to Azotea, a remarkably non-touristy spot in the most touristy, but also perhaps the most beautiful part of the city, the barrio Santa Cruz, on the east side of the Cathedral. Everyone ordered their favorite tapas: including jamon Iberrico for William, patatas bravas for Coco, carrillada (pork cheeks) for Phoebe, and a lovely burrata and tomato salad for Holly. Brendan and I enjoyed solomillo, a simple and delicious pork tenderloin preparation, we tried in Sevilla and will try again at home in DC.
To end the evening, a stroll home with one stop for gelato and many for all the street performers who entertain the weekend crowds of the city. We’d traveled every weekend while in Sevilla and thus had not yet seen the party that erupts on Friday evening. Wedding parties pouring out of city hall, break dancers pulling off amazing feats (to Coco’s delight), live classical music making the Giralda that much more magical, and all around everyone having a straight up good time.
Walking through all this fiesta, trying to push away nagging thoughts of packing still left to be done, I was acutely aware of how lucky we were to live and be part of this beautiful city.
Scavenger hunts, a glass of wine at lunch, gelato twice in a final day, and breakdancing under the stars…these are not the things that typically count as “Real Life.” And that sometimes makes me question whether the kind of happiness I felt last night counts as real happiness. But then I remember that the life we’re living right now (which is not always all gelato and vino tinto) is the life we’ve chosen to live for this year. And that, I think, probably answers the question.
Hey that Rodrigo, he was quite a guy
And Fernando III, he’s the main reason why
We celebrate Spain as a country of one
Not three smaller kingdoms, that would be dumb.
But let’s talk about another great king
From the day of his birth, have you heard such a thing???
He took the crown in 1883
And held it way into the last century
And to top it all off he ruled so well
They named after him, a fancy hotel
Meet us there and we’ll say C’mon
Join us now for a Fantastic Limon!
On Oct 7, 2016 7:51 PM, “Alexandra Walsh” <email@example.com> wrote:
Oh we’ve travelled so long, we’ve travelled so far
Iberian all the way – by burro, taxi, and car
We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve howled and we’ve puked
We’ve seen castles of kings, queens and learned dukes
But in Sevilla what’s the best place to learn?
A building so grand, to make your head turn
Go inside there now, and staring right at you
Is a great man memorialized with a statute of bronze
What’s his name? Send it to us now, and we’ll see you soon
Tapas tonight! Under the Spanish Moon
On Oct 7, 2016 7:22 PM, “Alexandra Walsh” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
Well now you’ve been to the market
And an old church you’ve found
You’ve searched and searched the city
And covered mucho ground
Wonder what your next target will be
A convent, a futbol field, a park?
Maybe a plaza of naranjas
A Giralda, or the Church of St Mark?
Nay, this is a house most tall,
Of customs long since past
It once had a twin painted silver
Seen many a ship, many a mast
So now you must find it
Take a photo and send it fast!
Moving on now to a really cool museo
Located south of here on a royally named calle-o
It’s fine, it’s great, it’s belle, maybe the best
Find it and then take this brief art history test:
Pick two famous paintings you can find within its walls.
Send us artist, year, and what the painting is called.
On Oct 7, 2016 6:32 PM, “Alexandra Walsh” <email@example.com> wrote:
You’ve worked hard; we’re quite impressed
We also noticed you’re all very well dressed!
Now time to hit the scene and take a rest
This one’s a freebie; you get to choose
Gelato, candy, a tapas or two? It’s up to you!
On Oct 7, 2016 6:22 PM, “Alexandra Walsh” <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote:
We know how much you love old iglesias.
This is a cool one, located particularly close to us!
Situated near the old market stalls , it honors not just one saint, but all.
(Picture please and name!)
Clue 1 (and Rules of the Road)
Welcome to the Say Goodbye to Seville Scavenger Hunt!!
Below you will find your first clue. Use the information to find the spot. Then do the task and email us your results! Then we’ll send you the next clue. If you’re REALLY stumped, email us for an extra hint.
Many mercados we have visited on this peninsula.
This one, across the Almeda from our Casa, has a name rhymes (kinda sorta) with Iberia.
Take a photo of a food that starts with P in Espana.
Send it to us, with the name, for your next stop in the urbania.