Sierra Nevada and Seville, Spain

Between Granada and Seville lies Sierra Nevada. It was only about 30km outside of Granada, so it was our first stop along the way to Seville, several hours to the east. Getting up the mountain was no problem, but once we got to the top, there was no parking, as the entire top seems to be a giant ski resort and the only public lot we could find had an attendant who pretended she couldn’t see our car idling in front of her window.

So, we carried on a bit further until we got to a less popular/ developed area to have a look around. We took a few photos of the amazing views before beginning what turned out to be a fairly treacherous descent. We ignored a sign which seemed to indicate the road was closed, because the navigation told us to go that way. Famous last words, no? Several miles down, we began to see why: snow had drifted out into the road along blind turns, so if you avoided the snow, you were at risk of being plowed into by a driver who couldn’t see around the bend. At some points, the entire lane was covered in a foot or so of snow.

I'd like to think that was Granada, but it probably was a much closer town.

Obviously, we made it safely down. I don’t think Craig was anywhere near as terrified as I was, but I was gripping my seat pretty tightly. We drove a few more hours to Seville, stopping at a truck stop for coffee, where I was amused to see they sold whole jamons, in case you need a 5kg snack along the way, I guess. I settled for a KitKat to share with Craig.

In case you can't get from Point A to Point B without an entire pig leg.

Seville is a much larger town than Granada and we were staying in an apartment, rather than a hotel room, but it seemed more like a regular city than a historical area. The old town center, where we were staying, showed signs of ongoing gentrification– many of the buildings around us were undergoing reconstruction work. And the tapas were expensive. After being spoiled in Granada, it was a let down to have to pay 3-4 euros for the same snacks that had been free, and the wait staff didn’t seem as interested in working out our foreign pronunciations.

The view from our apartment's living room balcony. The house across the street had a rooftop fireplace.

We arrived too late in the afternoon to do too much other than have a wander around our neighborhood. So, we walked to the river, then up to the next bridge, past the bull ring, (Teatro de la Maestranza) to the Torre del Oro, across the bridge, and back down the other side. By the time we got back to “our” bridge, we were ready for a refreshing beverage, so stopped for a rioja on a rooftop directly across the road from two gorgeous churches. Unfortunately, there were two large-ish parties between us and the churches, so I didn’t get a photo, and we didn’t manage to get back there for a photo op.

Another day, another breath-taking cathedral.

The view from the tower.

The next morning, we got up early and walked over to the Seville Cathedral (pictured above, the view from the tower is directly above). Despite the early hour, the line was long and not very fast, and the gypsies were already out in force selling their “good luck” heather. I’m pretty sure the good luck was that they wouldn’t curse you (or beat you up) if you bought some. They were pretty rough-looking, and made quite a racket, but they moved (very slightly) along when the police told them to. The cathedral was very large and despite being under renovations, there was enough to occupy our attention for about an hour before we hiked up the tower. It was a ramp all the way up, so it wasn’t as much of a slog as it would have been, had it been a spiral staircase. We both have a thing for 360 degree views, so we spent almost as long up their as we did looking at the statues, paintings, crypts, etc etc etc.

From there, we wandered around a bit before going very nearly next door to the Alcazar and Jardines de Murillo, shown a bit below. On the way, we spent a few minutes watching about a dozen parks workers shaking the orange trees lining the alleys and gathering the oranges. We wondered why there were so many oranges on all the trees– surely the homeless/ poor would be happy to get some free food, right? So, I took one and tried it. As far as I could tell, it was an orange-colored lemon. So, mystery solved. But it did seem a shame to pass by giant bags of oranges left to rot on the curbs for the next few days.

Another day, another fancy garden.

Bags of oranges which were left on the street corners to rot.

Harvesting the orange-colored lemons.

Regardless of where I am and how many beautiful buildings of historic significance there are, my true love is taking photos of unexpected sights. If you are my facebook friend, you have doubtless seen the restaurant foyer with a 120cm wooden penis decorating it, for example. Wandering through the streets, we walked passed a giant, very old building currently being occupied by a John Deere dealership. At home, they usually have shops which look like warehouse-sized sheds. Spain is a bit better all around, clearly.

I usually get photos of fancy fast food places, but John Deere in a building presumably listed in a historical registry is pretty good, too.

We were in Seville for one day longer than Granada, but we made several day trips out of town to see some soccer and to go to the bull fights. I would definitely recommend it, and could see it as a place to live, whereas Granada, as enjoyable as it was, seemed more like a vacation spot. That said, if I ever do live in Seville, I’ll be spending my weekends in Granada.

You know you are in Europe when a horse and carriage amble past as you are having lunch at a street side cafe on a cobbled street.