Connect the Dots
After Madrid, our next stop was Seville, a city I'd been wanting to visit and one of the main reasons I chose Spain as a destination this summer. We rented a car in Madrid and drove south to Andalucia through miles of highway and uninteresting rest stops. Upon arriving at our hotel, the day was overcast and drizzling, a miserable welcome to Seville. We stuck it out though and went to see the Real Alcazar, a Moorish style fortress that is the main site in Seville. Neither of us were in high spirits but the Alcazar was so stunning that we spent hours exploring anyways. We ate dinner at the hotel restaurant which was delicious, situated overlooking the courtyard as it rained.
The next morning was still sadly raining, so we slept in and took our time leaving the hotel. Around noon the weather began to clear and we made our way to El Pintón for lunch before wandering around Barrio Santa Cruz to explore. We took a long way through the neighborhood to Plaza España, a gorgeous structure in the Maria Luisa Park that was built for the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition World's Fair. There are 48 tiled alcoves lining the walls of the plaza, each representing a different province of Spain. It's a beautiful and elaborate building and today mainly houses government offices. From there we took a horse carriage ride to the Cathedral only to find it had closed for the day. Instead, we decided to return to the Alcazar and see it better now that it was sunny outside. Beautiful rain or shine, the thousands of tiles and Moorish design made me feel as if I were back in Morocco and not in Europe at all. The extensive gardens were also beautiful to see, especially in recognizing them from the scenes in Game of Thrones where they were featured as Dorne. After the Alcazar we explored the main square and surrounding area a little before heading to dinner at a delicious tapas place called Olvejas Negras, which had great vegetarian options for me--I ate three orders of the eggplant montaditos (small sandwiches) on my own in addition to the tapas we shared. Tapas culture is great but it can be hard to find vegetarian choices at the more traditional restaurants.
The next morning was time to leave Seville, but only briefly since we would be returning in a few days as part of our cruise itinerary. The whole trip was planned around a Windstar cruise that left from Lisbon and ended in Barcelona, stopping along the Portuguese and Spanish coasts along the way, including Seville. But we bookended the cruise with another week in Spain and Portugal beforehand and I with another week in Italy afterwards visiting Ashley. But more on that later...