Sexy Seville!

Brimming with history, colour, and vibrancy, Seville is a beautiful city.

Plaza de Espana is an impressive semi-circular building, in a very picturesque setting.  The sandstone colour of the building, the myriad tiled mosaics, the huge cool corridors and staircases, the beautifully carved statues, the green moat, the fragrant and colourful flowers, the pretty yellow wheels of the horse-drawn carriages, the refreshing fountain in the centre – will all delight your senses… with long, shady porticos to see off the heat of the summer.  Watching the Spanish police efficiently deal with a pick-pocket, through some slick collaboration and strategic manoeuvring, was equally impressive.  No running required – coordination by radio does the trick!  (Also rather sad to see yet understandable as there is a lot of poverty in evidence in Spain).

Plaza de Espana, Seville. Primarily Governement Offices now, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929.

Plaza de Espana, Seville. Primarily Governement Offices now, built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929.

On a positive, the whole city though is set up for leading a healthy, active lifestyle: numerous large parks are pretty to stroll round and also have exercise facilities including outdoor gym equipment; wide cycle paths and walking paths run parallel to the roads and along the rivers – the pulsing lungs of the city.  It’s always impressive when young women feel comfortable to exercise alone: Seville is such a city (Vancouver has a similar atmosphere).  The city is also green – with the efficient buses and trams, the easy to use cycle hire, along with the more touristy horse-drawn carriages.

Plaza de Espana and the colourful "Coche de caballos" - horse drawn carriage.

Plaza de Espana and the colourful “Coche de caballos” – horse drawn carriage.

You can walk for hours and soak up the atmosphere as you go – history and culture abound, as well as the modern café culture with restaurants spilling onto the pavements.  It’s easy to wile away time just people-watching…

Colourful people in Seville!

Colourful people in Seville!

The hour long boat trip along the river Guadalquivir is an alternative fun way to see the city, as it gives another view of the city’s landmarks by day or night.  Boats run half-hourly in the summer.  The sights, both modern and old, are impressive and help to contextualise the city, as well as reinforce the image of the fit and healthy.  Presumably the unhealthy are tucked away in the bodegas!

Torre del Oro, panoramic views and the point of departure for the boats trips up the Guadalquiver River, Seville.

Torre del Oro, panoramic views and the point of departure for the boats trips up the Guadalquiver River, Seville.

 

The crystal clear night sky of Seville from the river boat....and a bridge!

The crystal clear night sky of Seville from the river boat… and a bridge!

 

The fit and the healthy on the streets of Seville!

The fit and the healthy on the streets of Seville!

For a decent restaurant look out for those frequented by the locals, usually just one street away from the tourist centres or hotels: the food is authentic, delicious and very reasonable and the menu doesn’t look like a photo-album!

In a word we would describe Seville, the capital city of Andalusia, as beautiful.  In a cityscape kind of beautiful – as you can still find the muck that accumulates wherever humans gather.  However for a spacious, vibrant, shady city, then this is the one for you.  The city fathers have taken pains to preserve and provide access to all the great palaces, and monuments, the abundance of gardens and open green spaces… and the roads are wide, bright yellow wheeled horse carriages clip-clop along unhindered and the space created for running, walking and cycling is superb.  They do their best to keep the litter accumulation – a blight throughout southern Spain – to a minimum.  Famous architect born in Seville: Aníbal González Álvarez-Ossorio…

Aníbal González Álvarez-Ossorio. Architect and statue.

Aníbal González Álvarez-Ossorio. Architect and statue.

Seville is the only river port in Spain, and as ever, a bit of water adds an extra dimension to a city.  Once an exceptionally rich town – as evidenced by the beautiful buildings, monuments and architecture – Seville started to lose out to Cadiz as the river silted up.  However, a very photogenic city, Seville is well preserved.

The streets of Seville - a bright and cheerful place and the old and the new.

The streets of Seville – a bright and cheerful place and the old and the new.

 

Friendly, smiley people in Seville!

Friendly, smiley people in Seville!

 

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Awesome Andalucia!

Even further south, through Valenciana, lies Andalucia. Occupying most of Southern Spain, encompassing the deserts of Almeria in the east;  the Sierra Nevada and other fascinating, smaller sierra ranges; sun drenched Costas on the Mediterranean; and Donana National Park in the west near the border with Portugal, Andalucia could take you your lifetime to explore!

We are trying it a little more quickly than that, but are being enthralled nonetheless. The Sierra Nevada has a smattering of small villages beneath the peaks, snow on the peaks for much of the year and boasts the highest paved road in Europe…as opposed to the Alps which might have been an obvious choice…

Bubion, one of the pristine little white villages perched high up on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

Bubion, one of the pristine little white villages perched high up on the slopes of the Sierra Nevada.

The highest paved road in Europe over the Sierra Nevada.

The highest paved road in Europe over the Sierra Nevada.

Descending the twists and turns and heading west, through miles and miles and hills and hills of olive and almond groves, you will find Ronda. Home to where the bullfight originated, but possibly more famous for being built on either side of a precipitous gorge. The Puente Nuevo gets you over the chasm safely and walking down the well trodden path to the slopes beneath offers up some lovely views….and a stiff climb back to the town above!

 

The Puente Nuevo (new bridge), Ronda, Andalucia, Spain.

The Puente Nuevo (new bridge), Ronda, Andalucia, Spain.

North of Malaga lies the fascinating and ancient town of Antequerra, and in true human fashion we easily forget how many millenia the planet Earth was in existence before we laid an evolutionary eye on it. Just outside of Antequera stands El Torcal: Europe’s fines karst formation. A truly ancient (100 Million years!) old seabed, now rasied 1000 metres into the sky and slowly eroding (very slowly, given the low rainfall!)  to yield stunning rock formations for climbers and photographers alike…and of course the Spanish Ibex…

Antequera: one of Spain's most ancient towns.

Antequera: one of Spain’s most ancient towns.

 

El Torcal. Europes finest karts formation and certainly a fascinating place to explore.

El Torcal: Europe’s finest karst formation and certainly a fascinating place to explore.

 

Spanish Ibex - taken to life on the rocks and cliffs and as comfortable as a duck on a pond.

Spanish Ibex – taken to life on the rocks and cliffs and as comfortable as a duck on a pond.

 

Leaving the rocky outcrops of El Torcal and heading to the western extremes of Spain and Andalucia sees Seville slide up over the horizon. The ancient powerhouse of Europe and the 4th largest city in the world at one stage in the 1600s, Seville is a beautiful place. Colourful, culturally rich, chaotic at times, baking hot in summer and photogenic – well worth a visit with all you camera gear… but beware of pickpockets!

And a big plus, apart from all the fresh orange juice, is Donana National Park down the road. So much more to see…

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