Dream Shard Blog: The Scintillating Adventures of Our Household

Choose a Topic:

Aug '12

England and Spain Adventure, Day 12: Seville

Our first day waking up in Spain. …That is, John was just waking up. I’m pretty sure Carissa had been awake and playing for a while already.

We had about seven days in southern Spain. We picked three cities we wanted to be sure to visit while there: Seville, Cordoba, and Granada. They were all a bit of a drive (minimum 1-2 hours) each way, and with kids we knew that would get tiring quickly. So we picked the city farthest from us–Seville–and started there on our first full day in Spain. Seville was at least a 2.5 hour drive to the northwest from our hotel near Marbella.

Seville is the capital of the Andalusia region and Spain’s fourth-largest city (about 700,000 people in the main city). Spain had these trees everywhere that reminded me of wisteria, although I’m not sure really what they are.

Seville has a famous area dead central in the city known as “Old Town.” We were aiming for this area, as it houses the two main attractions we wanted to see: The Seville Cathedral and Alcázar of Seville (a palace).

And herein we learned our very first, very important lesson about using GPS in a city as old as Seville: NEVER, EVER set your destination as “Seville City Center.” John’s mom was in charge of the directions and she assumed we could get to the center, near the two attractions, and then find a hotel or parking garage to park in.

The city center is Old Town. Are there roads in Old Town? They’re ancient, but yes. Are they drivable? They’re narrow and one-way but, technically, yes. Is it a good idea to try to drive them if you’re clueless Americans in a mini-van on your first day in Spain? NO.

We got loster than lost, really fast. The streets are NARROW. They’re a maze. They’re meant for horses and wagons of ancient days, and maybe pedestrians and motorcycles or small European cars of modern times. Not meant for a minivan full of Americans unsure of their directions.

This is just entering the Old Town streets. You can see they’re one lane wide. But this was a wide street compared to some of the others.

Once we found ourselves lost in the Old Town streets it seemed impossible to wind our way out again. This was maybe the most stressful part of our entire week in Spain. After a while we noticed a small car behind us that seemed to know its way. We forced John out to go and ask directions (he was the only one fairly fluent in Spanish). The driver, fortunately, was able to help and followed us until we were safely back on a two-lane street again.

I videotaped a few minutes or our driving. There’s one point in the video (at about 1:00 in) where we are going around a slight bend and you can hear some gasps because we came really close to scraping the wall. I mean, REALLY close. For some reason I didn’t follow my eyes with the camera, but we were probably four or five inches from the wall. At about 1:35 you can see how close we are. John’s stepdad was driving, and I give him props for navigating us out of there successfully.


The next most stressful moment was maybe trying to park the minivan in a typical European-sized parking space.

After all this, we were ready for lunch. And more than ready to finally try some real Spanish food.

We picked a street cafe around the corner from our parking garage. The food was delicious. We always tried to order things the kids might be willing to eat, too.

I had croquettes (fried breadcrumbed roll filled with chicken and cheese) and fried potatoes with some sort of creamy side for dipping.

John had fried chicken with fries. (Notice the huge bottle of water. We bought water everywhere in Spain.)

John’s mom had a tortilla española (Spanish omelet), which is made out of fried potatoes.

And John’s stepdad had the most famous dish that I know of in Spain, paella. It’s a rice dish mixed with all sorts of stuff, in this case–seafood. Honestly, it doesn’t look good to me in this picture because I’m not a big seafood fan, but I tasted his rice and shrimp, and it was well made and good tasting.

My friend had lent me a Spanish-English dictionary that I took with me everywhere in Spain. It came in quite handy at times. John speaks Spanish pretty well but I wanted to be able to do it myself. So while we ate lunch I looked up and practiced pronouncing (with John’s help) some key phrases, like “Dónde está el baño?” (“Where is the bathroom?”) I was pregnant, after all, so that was an important one to know. I was also able to look up words like “fork” and “pepper” and ask the waiter to bring us these things.

While we were sitting at our sidewalk table, eating, I noticed a store opening for business a couple doors down. I pulled out my dictionary and discovered a new, beloved Spanish word: “helados.” It means “ice cream.”

So guess where we went after finishing lunch? John is sweet to put up with me and my love for ice cream when he’s not a big fan of the stuff. We got a cup to share with the kids. Spanish ice cream is DELICIOUS. My favorite flavor was turrón. I didn’t know what turrón was but it tasted and looked like peanut butter. We got a second flavor for Carissa to eat (she’s allergic to nuts). Which was a good thing because later I learned that turrón is actually a Spanish candy made out of honey, sugar, egg whites, and almonds or other nuts–and on top of nuts she’s allergic to egg whites, too.

After lunch and dessert we got lost again trying to just WALK through the Old Town streets, searching for the Seville Cathedral. I chose to stop at a Yogurtland to use the bathroom and change Carissa’s diaper. I took that opportunity to use my amazing (NOT) Spanish skills to ask the employee how to get to the Cathedral. I was really grateful for his help because his English wasn’t so good, and my Spanish wasn’t so good, but he smiled and worked through it and helped me understand basically which way to go. It’s a good experience trying to use a foreign language, especially when you need help finding something. It’s the quintessential traveling experience.

Meanwhile John let Wes play on a playground that was just outside Yogurtland in the plaza. He was sad when we pulled him off to go find the Cathedral.

The streets were narrow little, lovely pedestrian walkways. At least we weren’t driving.

Loved the orange trees. Not something you see in Utah.

Finally we made it to the Seville Cathedral. There were lots of horses and carriages out front selling rides.

This is the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest church in the world. Yeah, it was giant.

Big, but not the most amazing cathedral I’ve ever seen. The York Minster in England was more beautiful, in my opinion. But it had some interesting things to look at, like:

You exit into a courtyard filled with orange trees.

Following the Cathedral we walked practically next door to the Alcázar of Seville, which is a palace that used to be a Moorish fort.

My favorite part was the beautiful gardens outside.

Carissa loved the fish in the water and didn’t want to leave.

Before heading back to our hotel we stopped for churros and chocolate. It’s part of the Spanish Experience. Churros are like fried donuts (which, I quickly realized, was a bad idea since I had fried food for lunch and fried food doesn’t actually agree with me when I’m pregnant). The chocolate is a thick, dark hot chocolate.

The kids liked it.

We got home after the kids’ bedtime and prepared for our next day trip: Cordoba, Spain.

1 Comment »

One Response to “England and Spain Adventure, Day 12: Seville”

  1. tara72 Says:

    Okay, before I even read this post, can I just tell you how much I’m sure John loves that you posted the first picture of him waking up? But Carissa is just so dang cute!! I can see why you did. :) Love all the pictures, as always!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.