Tuesday, January 28, 2014

An extra day in Seville… and a run in with Romas...

Since we were originally planning to get to Rota Naval Base by Wednesday, the 22nd of January, we only booked two nights at the cute hotel we stayed in.  But then we realized there weren't going to be any suitable flights out of Rota on Wednesday or Thursday.  I didn't want to get there early and be stuck behind the gates of the base, because I knew we would be staying in Navy lodging.  I was also hungover as hell.  So I told Bill we should stay another day in Seville and check out the cathedral.  Bill was fretting a bit, but managed to get his office on the horn and get his leave extended.

A word about this whole "leave extension" thing.  It seems that if one is on active duty, in order to be eligible for Space A flights, one must be on leave.  If you let your leave expire before you get out of wherever it is you are, you can't use Space A to get home.  So it was very important for Bill to get the leave extended through the weekend to give us more time to get a flight that would get us in the vicinity of where we needed to go.  There was a Wednesday flight from Rota to Germany, which we could have taken to get to Spangdahlem Air Base or Ramstein Air Base, both of which offer Air Force flights.  But we decided to take a risk and plan to stay in Rota.  More on that, later…

So, with the help of a former Army co-worker and Facebook friend, Bill got word to his office that he needed the weekend.  His request was approved and he could finally relax a bit.  We asked for one more night in the hotel and naturally got charged a higher rate since I had booked a cheap room and we were put in a superior room (and charged the cheaper rate).  I was surprised the room was considered "superior", but then I realized that we had a window that actually sort of had a view of the street as opposed the inside of the hotel.

The nice thing about being in Seville on Tuesday is that the cathedral stays open a bit later.  So once I had recovered more from my hangover, Bill and I headed over to Seville's gorgeous, humongous, impressive cathedral.  I had been in the cathedral before when I visited Seville with my sister in 1997, but somehow I forgot you have to pay to go in there if you're just going for cultural reasons.  It's worth paying, I guess.  There is a small museum you walk through before you go into the massive structure itself.


A daytime view of the cathedral…


An evening view of the cathedral from another angle.

As we were looking for the appropriate door by which to enter the cathedral, we were approached by several older ladies who were holding out rosemary sprigs.  I wasn't sure who or what they were, though I have run into gypsies before, most recently in Athens, Greece, when one of them said I look like Angelina Jolie (I really don't.  She was either trying to flatter me or had serious cataracts).  But I hadn't run into the scam these women were running.  They could have passed for Spanish women involved with the church.    

There was a little voice in my head telling me to ignore these women, but they were very pushy and before I knew it, I was reaching for the sprig. So was Bill.  Then one of the women started to talk about Romanian blessings and got too close to Bill, who still has a wee touch of PTSD from his time in Iraq.  She pushed him toward the wall, alarming him.  He yelled "No!" and held up his hand just as I also stepped away from one of the other women.  Bill's reaction apparently startled the women and they quickly walked away from us.


The side door is where you go when you want to visit the cathedral…  This is close to where we were accosted. 

I was merely annoyed by the encounter, but Bill was really shaken up.  We went to the front of the cathedral and there were a couple of flamenco dancers performing beautifully on the street.  I was enjoying watching them, oblivious to Bill's lingering discomfort over his run in with the Roma women.


Front door of the cathedral, near where the dancers were.  Wish I'd gotten a photo.

We finally got into the cathedral and I was wandering around, snapping photos and looking at all the stained glass.  Suddenly, I turned to Bill, who had tears running down his cheeks.  This is a normal thing for Bill in cathedrals.  He is usually overwhelmed by their vastness and ornate decor.  I've seen him cry many times in many cathedrals in Europe.  But this time, he really seemed upset rather than moved.  I put my arm around him and asked him if he was okay.  He told me that he was overcome by a combination of powerful feelings… the beauty of the cathedral and his usual reactions to such beauty was colliding violently with his perception that we had been violated by the Roma women.


God's eye...

He said, "I haven't felt like this since I was downrange!"

I wiped his tears and listened to him tell me how angry he was about running into these women, trolling the touristed area around the cathedral, which is supposed to be a holy place.  Shame on them for screwing with people that way.

I asked Bill if they had managed to steal anything.  He said they hadn't, other than the positive experience he was hoping to have in the cathedral.  Although he was very shaken up, he couldn't deny that Seville's cathedral is amazing.  But I'm afraid those Roma women gave it an unpleasant color he won't forget anytime soon.


Beautiful stained glass and ornate sculptures...





I would have loved to have heard this organ...













The courtyard… full of orange trees!


On the way out…

On a positive note, I think we had our very best meal of the trip on Tuesday.  We happened to find a small restaurant/bar in a quiet section of the Jewish Quarter.  I was attracted to it by the way it smelled.  Leave it to me to follow my nose to find the best food.  I was a little tired of tapas, so you can imagine how delighted I was when we sat down at a table and I noticed one of the specialties of the house was dorada.  

Bill was still a little upset...

I discovered dorada when Bill and I lived in Germany and frequented Greek restaurants.  It's a delicious, mild, white, flaky fish that is usually pretty pricey.  We spent a lot of money on dorada at a touristy restaurant in Athens, though I'd had it several times in Germany for less money.  It's still usually  a rather expensive dish by my experience.  But at this particular place, I could have it for about 12 euros.  Cheap!


I love dorada!

Bill ended up with a skewer of beef and vegetables that hung from a hook over his plate and came with delicious fries.  I love the way fried potatoes are done in Europe.



That hook looks like an IV pole.


Check out the huge wine glass on the bar!

We drank fizzy water, since I was still nursing a hangover.  The waiter in this place, which was overwhelmingly populated with locals, was just awesome.  He was quick, cheerful, and friendly and he brought out the best meals of our trip.  We finished with a round of espresso and a couple of complimentary glasses of orange wine.  Needless to say, I recommend Casa Antonio- Bar Los Caracoles to anyone visiting Seville.  Here is a link to another appreciative blogger's post about this establishment.




Outside of the restaurant...






















As the day wore on, we were starting to wind down.  As much as I like Seville, I was kind of ready to get to Rota.  I wanted to see a different place and there always comes a point in a vacation when you start thinking about getting home and getting back to normal life.  The longest vacation I ever took was a month.  As much as I enjoyed seeing all I saw on that trip, I also recognized that after a couple of weeks, I start longing for a sense of normalcy and the ability to do laundry at will… and I missed my computer too, since I was wanting to write and can't really so well on my iPad.  I think I need to invest in a laptop for our trips.  That will take care of at least one issue related to staying on vacation for "too long".  Of course, since Bill has to retire, these long and frequent vacations may soon be a thing of the past anyway.


Flamenco dresses...

To make matters worse, I started my period.  That seems to be my custom on these trips.  We went out to buy some Spanish feminine hygiene supplies and ended up getting sidetracked by my sudden desire to buy a silk flamenco shawl.  I had been wanting once since 1997 and almost got one in 2009 when we went to Barcelona.  But I was always put off by how expensive they are because they are made of silk and there's a lot of handiwork on them.  You can get cheap ones, but I wanted one that was better quality.  I found one I loved in the window, but the price was 390 euros…  So I opted for a less expensive one that was on sale for 150 euros (a little over $200).  It's turquoise and very beautiful.  Maybe next time, I'll spring for the really expensive one.  Too bad I don't have anyone to pass it down to when I die.

I thought about taking Bill to a flamenco show.  I went to one the last time I was in Seville.  But Bill wasn't into watching dancing, so we skipped it.  I kind of regret it now, though.  Seeing those two dancers near the cathedral reminded of me of how graceful and beautiful flamenco is.


This is a video from YouTube that is an example of flamenco...






I had to take a photo of this horse.  I used to have an Appaloosa, which is a familiar spotted horse here in the United States.  I am not sure, but I think the above horse might be a Knabstrupper, which is a Danish horse breed that shares some of the same genetics as Appaloosas do.  I believe the Knabstrups were a bit endangered at one point, so I think some Appaloosas were imported to help save the breed.  Anyway, regardless of whether this horse is an Appaloosa or a Knabstrup, it was very cool to see a spotted horse among all the bays, grays, and chestnuts.




One last shot…

We ended up at yet another tapas bar for dinner.  It was probably my least favorite of all the places we went to.  The bartender wasn't all that friendly and the menu and the wine wasn't all that exciting.  In retrospect, we should have gone back to Casa Antonio- Bar Caracoles again.  Won't make that mistake again if we go to Seville.


Our last dinner in Seville...

After we ate dinner, we had a nightcap at the first tapas restaurant we came to when we first arrived in Seville.  Props to the waiter for remembering us.  Even though there weren't too many American tourists around Seville during our visit, I don't think we're that distinctive.  I got a kick out of using their restroom because the toilets had a little target in them.  I've heard of them in men's rooms, but even the women's room had one.  It was a picture of a glass of beer.  I'm guessing it was directed toward women who insist on hovering over the seat instead of sitting down.

Part 12

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