Eating & Drinking, Portugal, Travels, Spain

Olhão to Sevilla

Taking pictures of family taking pictures of family taking pictures of a church with storks.

Taking pictures of family taking pictures of family taking pictures of a church with storks.

The Portuguese vacation photos continue... at leisure...

After exploring Faro and the middle-south Algarve, we decided on a whim to take an overnight trip to Sevilla. The morning was sunny and gorgeous, so we grabbed some shots around Olhão before heading out.

I must admit to some extremely childlike sulking when everyone decided to take a look in at the outdoor market before leaving. Only because IT IS JUST FRUIT AND VEGETABLES. I have strong feelings about the real value of outdoor markets. In theory I'm a fan - they make use of outdoor public space and activate otherwise nondescript places. They obviously bring people together, have a strong social function, and create income & business. All good things. 

Fine, there's nothing not to like about markets. I was just in a hurry to get to Spain. Probably because, deep down, I could sense that we were about to hit on a...

major candy store jackpot.

Welcome to wonkandy. Stephanie's own personal Spanish candy store heaven.

Welcome to wonkandy. Stephanie's own personal Spanish candy store heaven.

Having objected earlier to the fruit & veggie market, I have to say that Jed, Greg & Mindy exhibited supreme patience as I took my time picking out just the right mix of sweet, sour, and chocolatey delights (which, of course, I shared with heartfelt generosity...)

My senses thus satisfied and our hotel room located, we walked to the Alcazar to be amazed at the intricacies of bygone Moorish architecture.

Masters of patterns, inlays, complexity and the abstract.

In general I'm not an enormous fan of shuffling through palaces and castles, having gone through my fair share between Denmark and Germany. Most consist of dark interiors with reproductions of original furnishings. While interesting as relics, they don't tend to really engage my fascination. The exception in my travels so far have been Moorish palaces. The Alhambra in Grenada and the Alcazar in Seville show such a rich inspiration of materials; a truly amazing catalogue of the thousands of ways triangular tiles can be arranged; and a serious consideration of how to bring the beauty of the surrounding gardens inside, that I can't help but feel (in spite of the hundreds of people taking photos at the same time as me) that I'm in a really special place.

After marvelling upon the wonders of the palace, we walked around the gardens. This was one of the highlights for me, as the last time Jed and I were in Sevilla it was Christmas eve and the gardens had closed early. 

A wall of a very attractive type of hedera. 

A wall of a very attractive type of hedera. 

Anywhere there are palm trees in December rates highly on my list of desirable places to live.

Anywhere there are palm trees in December rates highly on my list of desirable places to live.

There are always an impossibly high number of attractive sites to gape at and drain your camera battery on in Europe. Sevilla doesn't disappoint here, everywhere you look are gorgeous gardens, scenic public squares, well-preserved buildings and interesting looking streets. Our next point of sightseeing was the Plaza de Espana, built for the Ibero-American Expo in 1929.

Just one last image that reminded me of a Georgette Heyer romance novel and which I know my sister would go into throes of passion for: A statue I have hereby dubbed "the three sighs"

We had time for a tiny siesta before gathering up our stomach muscles to digest one of the best meals of the trip: Contenador. Fresh, local market food cooked behind a steamy glass barrier and served alongside wine always makes for a fantastic meal. Contenador had that extra something that makes you consume everything on the table and commit the sin of gluttony, even though you are way beyond full and have gained at least 3 kilos since entering the establishment.

You might think the night ended there, but you would only be half right. Greg and Mindy retired, but Jed and I powered on for another couple hours to catch the late night flamenco show at La Carboneria, a place I would hesitate to mention since it is so precious, original, and hidden that you'd have to be very intrepid to stumble upon it by yourself. However it's already made the top lists of free flamenco shows in Seville and has a reputation of being the real deal, and so many people already know about it that it seems shameful to try to hide it from you. We first came here in 2008 on our first trip to Sevilla, and had actually heard about it 'word of mouth' style (2008 was obviously before the internets and smart phones existed). 

We sought it out this time around and found it crowded to the extreme, but the show did not disappoint. We both took a glass of tinto de verano and enjoyed our last hours before a very sound sleep.