12 June 2012

New experiences with old friends

Shawn gets to go to some fun places for his job. Mostly they are all in the states but he's had to travel abroad before. This time he had to go to Spain and I knew I wanted to tag along if it was timed right. It's not every day, or decade, that a trip like this comes along! My mom was more than willing to stay with all four kids so I could go.

So here we are! In the Andalucia territory of southern Spain. Mostly hanging out in the ancient cities of Seville and El Puerto de Santa Maria. We are hoping to head to the Rock of Gibraltar this weekend which is right off the coast but owned by Great Britain.

If you ever get the chance to travel to another country, you should! It's worth every penny. It's an amazing experience to see, feel and hear how a different culture than yours lives.

We landed in Madrid with a short flight from there into Seville. Lucky for us, Shawn's old college buddy lives there. After checking in he took us on a wonderful tour through the streets of 'Sevilla' where we got to relish in the old cobbled city streets that run here and there and everywhere getting narrower and narrower the more you explored. The later it got the more alive the streets became! It's Old Town is the largest in Spain and third largest in Europe compared only to Venice and Genoa.

Sergio was tireless in his desire to share Seville with us. We got a picture and flavor of Sevilla that would never have happened without him. For instance:

  • Spanish here is pronounced differently. It ain't your Mexican Spanish we hear in the states. 
  • Gypsies will walk the street holding rosemary sprigs. They will hand it to you and when you take it they will read your palm, your future, and then want money from you for doing so.

  •  Parts of Star Wars was filmed in the Plaza de Espana. Episode 4.
  • You don't pay the street musicians. Only a foreigner would do that.
This man was passionate.

  • You do not take your unfinished food home with you from a restaurant. If you don't eat it all, you leave it behind. Lots of good food gets wasted.
  • If you don't finish all your food, you just might be approached by someone who asks if they can finish it off for you. Twice we had strangers come to our table and take our unfinished food. One man and lady sat down as we were standing up.
  • The people here in old Catholic Spain are very, very religious. They have a procession during Holy Week where they carry a life like statue of La Macarena (which translates to Our Hope and refers to Mary) around on what is essentially a moving portable stage carried by men hidden underneath. The procession lasts for 12 hours. It starts at midnight and ends at noon. 
  • Mary isn't the only virgin they venerate. They have hundreds of virgins with festivals, statues, and parades.

  •  Bullfighting is not a sport. It's an art. The bull is a special species that would actually die out if weren't for the art of bullfighting because it is so expensive to maintain them. They are bred aggressive and come form an ancient line of Moorish bulls from the Iberian Peninsula. Once the bull is killed every part of it is used. They even use the tail to make a stew. Not one bit of it is wasted.
  • They don't have enough money here. The antiquities abound but they are unable to do archeological research because there is no money to do so. They know where things are but it lies uncovered in the soil. Once such dig is located outside a palace, Real Alcazar and it lies in limbo.

  • They don't eat dinner here until 8 or 9 pm or later. The restaurants aren't even open at what we consider normal dinner time.  Our first day here we were weary from our 20 hours of travel and were ready for dinner early, about 4:30, and showed up in a local bar where he politely told us his kitchen was closed until 8.
    Sergio said it isn't abnormal to come in at 11 for dinner!

This is 11 at night and the streets are full.

  • Cooked spinach with chick peas is a common authentic dish. It is really good!
  •  Oh, and I learned this one on my own....if you are in a foreign airport and start taking pictures, they will stop you and ask for your camera. It was Rylie's camera so I fumbled around nervous trying to find the play button. Once I showed him that I wasn't taking security photos and I was just in love with the ceiling, he let me go. =)

Sergio, Shawn, me and Bruno in the Real Alcazar in Seville, Spain.