Sunday, November 8, 2015

Tourists at home

We spent this weekend (besides cleaning the flat) being tourists in Sevilla. 
Friday night, while Elias wandered Sevilla quedando with his school class, Ingrid and I had a great date for tapas at the old Las Golondrinas (we've gone to the new one next door a couple times, but this was our first time in the original).  Same great food, older (and beautiful and busy) atmosphere.

Saturday afternoon we walked up the river to the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo, which was a remodeled monestery (Cartujo), remodeled military site, remodeled pottery factory, and finally, remodeled as an art museum in the 1990s.  The building itself is wonderful, including the chimneys remaining from the days as a pottery factory.   We bike/skate past it every time we go to the EBD, but hadn't taken the time to do more than peak in before.

The displays were really interesting, mostly based around videos.  Some work focused on 1950s French short films by Alain Resnais were great, including one of the National Library in Paris and another on Picasso's Guernica.  Elias was really taken by films from the Occupy movement in various countries by Oliver Ressler, showing footage inside political street protests.  This sparked a great discussion on the way home about protest, civil disobedience, personal responsibility for disobedience, and the difficulties in intervention by powerful countries in problems of smaller countries.  Art at its best to get you thinking. 

Ingrid, Eli, and Christopher C.
Sunday we ¡finally! went to the Catedral de Sevilla and the Giralda, the towering symbol of Sevilla.  The Cathedral dates to the 14th century, claim to the be 3rd largest in the world, and houses tremendous art and, among many others, the mausoleum of Christopher Columbus (Cristóbal Colón). 

The gothic ornamentation everywhere was over the top. 

Besides lots of Virgins, gory Jesuses, and even the severed head of John the Baptist, there was some quite impressive art. 

The view from the top of the Giralda (originally a minaret before the fall of Sevilla to the Christians), across all of Sevilla was spectacular.  We picked an unusually warm and sunny day for the season and were well rewarded with the views.


Monday, November 2, 2015


We took advantage of the long weekend for Día de Todos los Santos to explore more of Andalucía, this time to the southernmost part of Spain by Algeciras and the United Kingdom enclave of Gibraltar.  We stayed in an Air B&B in kind of up-scale development south of Algeciras, with a beautiful view of Africa, just a long swim away.
 A big bonus, for Elias, was that the place came with a super-friendly cat.  Not so great for Ingrid (cat allergy), but Negri mostly lived outside, and came in to cuddle with Eli -- especially Monday morning, when Eli woke up with something flu-ish (by Monday night, he was deep in cold-mode but the flu symptoms had passed).

Naturally, it was a rainy vacation weekend.  Saturday, we went for a morning walk at the Botanic Garden and an afternoon walk on trails in the Parque Nacional Alcornoques,  which is a park full of beautiful cork oaks.  And not a few cows and goats.

Sunday, it threatened lots of up to 9 cm (3.5 inches) of rain, but in the morning it looked just blustery, so we decided it wasn't a good idea to hike more in the forest, and that instead we would go visit nearby Gibraltar.  Gibraltar is a big rock filled with limestone caves (including one that was set up for a military hospital and is now a concert hall), and a city of 30,000 British citizens, part of the UK since 1704.

It is also the home of several hundred Barbary Macaques, descendants of north-African Macaques (once ranging as far north as England) but now semi-wild, fed fruits and veggies by the British government since the time of Churchill.
They are completely habituated to tourists, but the £1,000 fine for feeding them keeps them one-step removed from  being pets.

We came down from the rock to city center, and went off in search of some British food at a pub dating from the 18th century -- chicken pie with boiled cabbage, peas, chips, and for Ingrid, brown gravy.  Soon after it started raining, first just rain, then a serious, torrential downpour.  The report is that they had 36 mm  (1.4") of rain in 30 min!

By then we were already wet so we kept walking back toward the border with Spain.  We got to near the stretch where you had to walk across the airport runway, but the thunder and lightening got pretty thick, and the streets were completely flooded.  We decided walking that last bit wouldn't be our brightest moment.

We asked where to catch a bus that last 500m to the border, and it turns out it was just 50m down the street, so we headed there, walking through deep water.  By the time we reached the bus stop, the water had flooded beyond the street to calf-deep, so we climbed up on the bench to be out of the water.

A big garbage can next to the bus stop started floating around in the wake of passing vehicles.  Finally a bus came by, we flagged it down, and it took us to the border, where we dripped through customs, and walked back to our rental car on the Spanish side.
Driving back many streets were flooded, but after about 15 min we had gone up enough in elevation to be out of the flood zone.     Quite a weekend adventure!