Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Sevilla: part 1

Sorry that this post took to so long! (This post is a little different in the sense that it's all words in the beginning, followed by an array of pictures.)

I went down to Sevilla with my program two weekends ago on an one-night-two-days trip.

Here is Sevilla in relation to Madrid:

[Some historical background: Sevilla was the perfect port for colonizers and conquistadores becuase it was accessible by boat from the sea, but far enough inland to protect the jewels and gold acquired from the New World from pirates.  Sevilla is heavily influenced by Islamic culture (as well as Jewish, but the Muslim aspects are much more prevalent.) And they are known for their heavy "zetha" accent (the stereotypical Spanish lisp.)]

We zoomed across the southern half of Spain on the AVE train, which is probably going to be my one and only time traveling with AVE.  Unfortunately, AVE train tickets are pricey, and inevitably, it's cheaper to fly or take a bus.  Glad that BU paid for this trip!

The train itself was very comfortable and quite luxurious (plush seats, coat hangers, food cart, movie), even though we were in what would be the equivalent to economy class on a plane. 

After arriving in Sevilla's train station, we walked to our hotel (another luxury I will not experience for the rest of the semester), and reconvened to walk over to the Catedral de Sevilla.  The Cathedral was beautiful, and even though the one in Toledo is bigger, I enjoyed this Cathedral more.  (Maybe that has to do with the fact that I wasn't freezing like I was when we were in Toledo, but it really was a cool Cathedral.)

This Cathedral is the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, mainly because it is not built in the shape of a cross, but rather a rectangle, covering more area.  This is because the architects actually used the foundations of a mosque to build this church.  You'll see later in a photo the bell tower, which was actually a minaret.  The Cathedral is the home to Christopher Columbus' tomb. (See below for the controversy). 

Then, we had a break to eat our bocadillos we brought from home, which was fun to sit outside and people watch while eating our lunch.  Then we met up once more to head to the Real Alcazar. I'm still tinsy bit confused on what it was, but from what I've gathered, it's the royal palace, and it's actually still used when the King of Spain comes to Sevilla on official business.  When the royal family is staying at the Real Alcazar, you cannot visit, so be warned. :) 

The send off of Christopher Columbus to the New World actually happened in this building, so you can imagine it's antiquity! It is built by Muslims, and therefore is built with Islamic design.  Kind of interesting because the building was built for a Christian king, so there are some culture mishaps within the building. Lots of color, and just absolutely beautiful.  No picture can do these buildings justice.  The building is made of cheap plaster; however, the techniques they used are incredibly intricate, mind-boggling, and expensive.  Not a single nail or bolt was used to build this building.  Every piece is fit like a puzzle piece.  I was quite impressed!

Another fun thing at the Real Alcazar: they had a large hedge maze!  Legit, every kid's dream come true!

After Real Alcazar, my friends and I were so exhausted so we plopped ourselves in a café, and had café con leche and the Spanish take on American pancakes.  The pancakes were drizzled with chocolate, and embellished with whipped cream. Yum. :)

The rest of the night, we mainly walked around, got lost, went to the river front to see Torre del Oro, and then basically crawled into a restaurant, dying of hunger.  The restaurant wasn't fantastic, but we were so hungry, we could have cared less.

AND that is part one of the Sevilla trip. Stay tuned for part two, and enjoy the pictures!

(This is what the country side of Spain looked like 
from our train ride.  Orange trees everywhere!)
 (The feeling was not quite the same as the horse-drawn
buggies by Central Park, but endearing nonetheless. 
Except, they pooped everywhere, and made
the streets smell really bad.)
 (A prime example of the number of orange trees in 
Southern Spain. They are grown EVERYWHERE in 
Sevilla. But sadly, the oranges are too bitter/sour 
to be eaten off the tree. They are in fact used to make
marmalade, which Spaniards don't really consume. 
The marmalade is actually exported mainly to England. 
How funny! Globalization at its best.) 
 (What you see when you first walk into Catedral de Sevilla. 
Very beautiful, and always stuns me how people constructed
this without modern technology and machines!)
 (Here lies Cristobal Colon. AKA Christopher Columbus.
Or so they claim. There is a dispute between Dominican 
Republic and Spain on who really has the dead body of 
Columbus.  Apparently they opened the coffin in 2003 
and they only found a handful of his bones.  They didn't open 
the tomb in the D.R., so we can't be sure, but experts think his
body is more or less scattered all over the world since his body 
traveled a lot even after his death.  In general, Columbus is 
a big question mark of controversies.)
 (At the top of the bell tower, there are bells.)
 (The view.)
 (The bell tower from the outside. Climbed it from ground
zero to the top. Not going to lie, I was out of breath by the top.)
 (The white spaces in the walls actually were covered
in decoration in the past, but some parts of the mosaics
were lost throughout the years.)
 (Appropriately can be described as breath taking.)
 (Unconventionally, the king would stand with his back 
towards the courtyard so that on a bright and sunny day, 
his audience would not be able to see his face clearly,
and also create an illusion of a halo around his head.
Gives the king a sense of divinity while addressing the audience.)
 (Their Plaza Mayor by night. Couldn't figure out if there was
any utilitarian purpose for this funky structure.  I think I 
heard someone say it was basically a huge sculpture.)

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