Friday, September 1st, Sevilla, Spain
It is hard to hear
anyone talk about Sevilla
without a good deal of praise. It is the
quintessential Spain, full of history, art, beauty,
culture, and entertainment. Zia sits at the Club Nautico
docks, a definite outsider, but getting to know the city
in our own way. There aren't many cruisers here
and our little dinghy full of Zia crew whizzing up and
down the Rio Guadalquivir draws many puzzled stares.
"Why would anyone come
to Seville in August?" you might ask. That is a
very good question. The thermostat falls below 100
only after the sun has been down for a few hours.
The Spanish practice of dining late is taken to extremes
here as it is too hot to be on the streets much before
10pm. You have to go for your evening
passeo before dinner
and by the time you are situated and ordering food, it
is 11:30 at night! We have not quite managed a
dinner yet, but the whole scene makes so much more sense
after enduring the past week here. There really
isn't anything you can do in the middle of the day to
avoid the blistering heat except lie down and not move
around too much. Given our cruising itinerary, our
choice was to either skip visiting the city, or put up
with the heat. We are all glad that we came.
Of course, in order to
see the town, we have been venturing out on sightseeing
trips for three or four hours every day. Sometimes
we take the dinghy down to the riverside by the bull
ring, lock it up, and hope for the best. When we
plan on being gone for longer or at night, we
generally hop in a cab. One couple who live on
their boat at the dock here warned us of the thieves who
will steel anything in an instant so we have been a
little more concerned than usual. So far so good,
and we have made many successful expeditions.
Yesterday's trip to Isla Magica was definitely a
highlight for both kids and adults. The bullfight
on Sunday night was equally memorable, but calling it a
highlight would be a stretch.
As we were walking
around Isla Magica, Joe and I realized that this was our
kids' first experience at a theme park. It was the
perfect introduction. The park was big enough to
keep us entertained for the day, but not so big that you
needed a week to see it properly. The place was
virtually empty, and yet all the rides were open so we
hardly ever had to wait in line. There were three
good water rides, a vicious roller coaster that the kids
weren't big enough to ride, a rock climbing wall,
trampolines, some really awesome 3D and 4D movie
adventures and enough bad junk food to last a lifetime.
We rode the "Amazonia" log ride a total of six times.
Cassie made it to the top of the rock climbing wall.
Juliana was a little more timid at the beginning, but
was screaming and raising up her arms with the rest of
us by the end of the day. The girls even waited
for us while mom and dad rode the roller coaster.
We met a nice American family who moved here six months
ago and made quick friends with them. The movies
were a welcome break in air conditioned theaters and for
the most part had some really great animation.
Between those and the water rides, we stayed cool
enough. Okay, the ice cream and frozen
granitas helped a
little too. We wound up back at the club for a
quick dinner at 10pm before collapsing into bed, utterly
exhausted but with big grins on all of our faces.
Our expressions were
quite different in the wake of our adventure at the bull
fights. As part of our Spain experience, we really
wanted to see a corrida,
and Seville is supposedly one of the best venues so we
bought tickets for the event on Sunday night. We
had scoped out the riverside earlier that day and knew
just where we could leave the dinghy. I would put
a thousand bucks down that we were the only spectators
in the ring that had showed up for the show in a boat.
We were disappointed to
see the stands only a third full, and probably half of
those were tourists. The spectacle began on time
at 8pm with the grand entrance of the torreros,
the picadores on
horseback, and banderilleros.
They all parade around the ring and present themselves
to the president of the bullfight. The
have a couple of practice swings with their capes,
then retreat behind the safety of the wood barricades
that line the inside of the ring.
The bull enters the
ring through its own special entrance. It
obviously takes a little prodding to get them out of
their cages. They enter the ring and look around
trying to figure out where they are and what is going
on. Several matadors provoke them into charging,
mostly retreating behind the wooden barricade upon the
bull's approach. One of them will make a couple of
passes with the cape but it really is a minimal
performance. This is the only time during the
fight that the bull is at full capacity.
The band plays a little
tune to signify the beginning of the next tercio
of the corrida.
In this stage the picadores
ride out on their armored horses with long lances. The
bull charges the horse and the picadores stick him with
the lances, weakening the shoulder muscles. The
blood begins to flow.
We were amazed at how
little reaction the horses exhibited. They are
obviously well trained. They did not shy away but
stood their ground firmly, leaning into the bull as it
nearly lifted it off the ground with its head butts.
The next stage is the
tercio de baderillas.
This is when the banderilleros
stick pairs of darts into the bull's back. They
try to get three pairs of banderillas
lodged in between the bull's shoulders. You can
really see the blood pouring down the flanks of the
animal by now.
The last stage is the
tercio de muleta, when the matador shows his stuff.
The bull of course is already mortally wounded but
pissed off as hell. It does its best to gore the
matador with its horns. This one tripped at one
point and somehow came out of his shoes. After a
few minutes of cape play, the matador takes the killing
sword and goes for the death blow.
They don't always hit
the right spot and it took this matador three thrusts to
kill the bull. It was a truly gruesome sight.
The whole process took about 15 minutes. The clean
up crew comes out, attaches a chain around the dead
bull's head, hooks it up to a team of horses and drags
the carcass around the ring and out the special exit
door for the bulls. They sweep up the dirt that is
saturated with blood and tidy up the stadium floor, and
prod the next bull into the ring. We kept hoping
that we would get a glimpse of the art that makes
bullfighting "a noble part of the Spanish heritage."
It never seemed anything more than pure slaughter to us.
We left half way through the show, watching three out of
six bulls meet their end. Yes, the kids were with
us. They spent much of the time with their heads
in our laps. They haven't talked about it since
nor had any nightmares.
I don't think we have scarred them for life.
We have since seen many
more spectacular displays of the gentler side of the
Spanish heritage. The great Cathedral and La
Giralda is the largest Christian cathedral in Europe.
La Giralda, the belltower, is left over from the great
mosque built by the Almohads in the late 12th century.
The views of the city and the church from the top are
The Real Alcazar is the
royal palace that has been in use since 1365. It
is an amazingly ornate complex of rooms and gardens,
fountains and artwork. The royal family still
occupies the top floor of part of the building. We
could spend a week wondering around in there.
We await the arrival of
our materials for the school year, scheduled for Monday,
before we leave Seville. We have been talking
seriously about our plans for the winter and have
reached the conclusion that we need to settle down in
one of the larger cities in Spain. Madrid is too
far inland. Barcelona is in the province of
Catalonia and the local schools teach in Catalan,
which is actually it's own language, rather than
Since we are hoping to check our girls into a local
school so they can learn Spanish, this doesn't work for
us. We will start with our home schooling program
until we figure that all out. The next biggest
city is Valencia, about half way along the Mediterranean
coast. Seville is also an option, but we are
hoping we like Valencia as much as we do Seville.
It would be much more convenient for the boat. We
might find a place there where we could stay on the boat
throughout the season. We will certainly be able
to find a place close by where we could haul the boat
and then rent an apartment in the city. We will be
making our way around towards Valencia so we can finally
firm up our winter plans. We'll need to have it
all sorted out by the middle of next month.
Happy Labor Day weekend
to you all. Enjoy the parties and end of summer
celebrations. We miss you. Drop us an email
when you have the time. We love to hear from you.
Many thanks to our
friend Craig Homenko for his assistance in setting up
We also would like
to thank our buddy Scott Brunner who has been kind
enough to host the website on his server.