Saturday, June 15, 2019

Sanlúcar de Barrameda

 Today, Laura's Spanish teacher drove us to the beach town of Sanlúcar de Barrameda. This little town is situated at the mouth of the Guadalquivir River. This is the same river that flows through Sevilla. About 80 km south and west of Sevilla, Guadalquivir flows into the Atlantic Ocean. After spending so much time here around the river, knowing that it was navigable down to the Atlantic, and knowing the historical significance of the many voyages that have started somewhere on this river, it was a treat to see the Atlantic end of the river. Sanlúcar is an old town. There is, of course, an old castle there:

The town has many lovely plazas and fountains:

The day was bright, but not too hot. There was a nice breeze off of the Atlantic. From left to right, we were me, Eri (student), Beli  (teacher), Laura (student), Ale (Beli's novio):

 Sanlúcar is probably best known for the jumping off point for Magellan's famous circumnavigation of the world. Indeed, on this sign, it is noted that the voyage started on 20 Oct 1519 and ended in 1522, so we are just shy of the 500th anniversary of the start of that famous voyage:

Beli kindly dropped us off a block from our house. After taking out the trash and a few other chores, I noticed that the sunset was lovely, so I went up to the roof and took a picture:

Friday, June 14, 2019

Córdoba visit

Tomorrow the Gruchots fly back to the US from Madrid. Today, we took the train north to Córdoba to see the sights there. Then, after a few hours in Córdoba, Laura and I returned south to Sevilla while the Gruchots continued north to Madrid.

We started out by catching the 21 bus to the train station:

 You can tell by Luke's face that it was a bit early. At the Córdoba train station, we locked the luggage up in lockers and hoofed it down to the Cathedral. This cathedral is interesting because it is planted right in the center of one of the mose beautiful mosques in the world. As with all of these old historic sites, there is a lot of upkeep. I watched this guy with a paint brush and a shopvac cleaning accumulated dust from the crenellations on the tops of these pillars:

The mosque part of the structure is a striking collection of arches an pillars. Worshippers would have filled this open space during prayers. The mosque part is actually built upon an old Christian church, so, as Laura suggested, this is actually a mosque sandwich with Christian churches serving as the bread.

Here is Jo-Anne in the mosque part:

After visiting the cathedral/mosque, we walked down a looked at the Roman bridge across the river:

The river was flowing at a much higher rate than on our previous visit in March(?). We then returned to the cathedral/mosque and climbed the bell tower/minaret. The view of the orange grove in the courtyard was impressive from up there:

Here you can see how the Cathedral is just plopped down into the middle of the surrounding mosque:

After the cathedral/mosque visit, Laura caught an early train home to go to Spanish class. I stayed with the Gruchots for lunch. We found a nice doner kebab place in Plaza de la Corredera. For dessert we bought an assortment of pieces of cake/pie from La Tarterie. We toasted Luke's birthday a day early:

Speaking of which, with the 6-hour time difference, Luke's birthday will be 30 hours instead of the usual 24 hours! After this, we headed back to the train station. Along the way, we passed a park with a lot of tiled benches that bore quotes from the famous playwright Seneca. I was struck by this one which seems to fly in the face of learning for the sake of learning:

It says, "Study, not to know a lot, but to know better (more?) than others." Pretty competitive frame of mind.

The Gruchots made it to Madrid on their train in time to do a bit of sightseeing there. I made it back to Sevilla on my train in time to lay around the house (I'm developing a bit of a cold and feel a bit under the weather.)

Thursday, June 13, 2019


Today was essentially a free day for the Gruchots. We visited the Plaza de Espana this morning and the nearby Maria Luisa Park. On the way over, we saw these guys taking their mules out for a walk across the (best) bridge:

I took a frew random photos at Maria Luisa Park, but the composition on this one really struck me:

Here's the Plaza de Espana from one of the balonies. This was likely my last trip to this amazing space:

We went to dinner at Antojo this evening. They have a carbonized cod filet there that is amazing and I don't even like fish. On the way home, the pilgrims from Rocio were returning home from their week-long trek. They were singing and seemed pretty happy, but you could tell they were a bit tired too. So were the oxen pulling the wagons:

Wednesday, June 12, 2019


John, Jo-Anne, Katie Jo, Luke and I took a day trip down to Gibraltar. It's about a 2.5 hour ride on a tour bus. Laura stayed home to go to spanish class, do laundry, and make us dinner (she and I had been to Gibraltar before). We traipsed down to the pick up point just across the (best) bridge and met the bus and tour guide at 8am. We were the first of several pick-ups, so we didn't actually start driving south with the 23 member group until about 9:15am. Along the way, Roman our guide, told us a lot about southern Spain. He seemed particularly enthused about the fact that we were driving through the part of Spain where bulls are bred and raised for the bull fighting rings. I did learn a lot about the entire "sport". For example, the bulls are not trained to be aggressive, they're raised normally. They go into the ring when they are 4 years old. The bull must be weakened by small spears (blood loss) from riders on horseback before the toreador enters the ring. A toreador has no chance of facing a bull at full strength.

I also learned that there are cork trees in southern Spain (not just Portugal). Also, the bark (cork) is harvested from the trees about every 10 years and even though the bark is stripped completely from a significant portion of the trunk, the tree survives and continues to produce bark for cork harvesting. We stopped at this rest area on the way down to Gibraltar:

After showing our passports at the border (leaving Spain, entering the UK), we visited the lighthouse. Though there was a bit of a marine layer, you could just make out the coast of Africa (Morocco):

For lunch, we followed the advice of the guide and had traditional British fish and chips at Roy's:

After lunch, we watched a couple of glass blowers ply their trade in a nearby shop:

Obligatory picture of the rock of Gibraltar:

We made it back to Sevilla around 6:30pm. Laura made us a Moroccan style cous cous with chicken for dinner (it was most excellent). We had helado for dessert and went our separate ways.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

An anniversary of sorts

It was June 11, 2018 when we drove out of Walla Walla. A lot has happened in that year. It's gone fast and slow at the same time.


Today we went to the Royal Alcázar with John, Jo-Anne, Katie Jo and Luke. The weather was lovely--relatively cool and breezy.This was my 4th or 5th visit and there's always something new to see. For example, I never thought a peacock with full plumage could perch outside a 2nd story window, but here's one:

I never get tired of the Moorish penchant for geometric ornamentation. The prohibition against images of animals or people forced artisans of the time to turn to geometry for artistic expression. This wrought iron door/gate is just one example:

This was the first time I visited the royal "swimming pool" beneath the palace. Quiet and cool, it must have been a great escape from the Sevillian heat in July and August:

This side passage along the pool was beautifully lit too:

The palace gardens under a cool, clear blue sky:

After the Royal Alcázar, we had lunch at the little fast-food Italian place around the corner from our flat. Then we split up. Laura went to class, I went to the gym and did a little work on my revision, Jo-Anne, Luke and Katie Jo went downtown and John took a bit of a breather at the AirBnb.

We got back together and the Gruchots tried some sangria at Volapie, another restaurant around the corner from us. The sangria seemed to be universally enjoyed. Laura returned from class and made us chicken fajitas for dinner. All cleaned up and heading to bed now. We have to rise early to catch the tour bus to Gibraltar tomorrow.