All Roads Lead To Seville

Visits to the city of Seville, Spain, bracketed our year of 2016 neatly, highpoints on either end.  Our first stay in January had us wowed and promising ourselves we’d plan a return to see more of the city.  Our visit in December, had us feeling the same, leaving us with the anticipation of more to see when we go back. And during the year, we skirted the city several times on our way to other places in Spain.  In fact, the joke seemed to be that, from Lagos, Portugal, all roads lead to Seville.street scene - Seville,Spain photo by No Particular Place To Go

One thing we’d learned from our previous visit to Seville: a car was more hassle than it’s worth.  With an historic area that’s compact and walkable as well as daily parking rates that can go upwards of €30, taking the bus was an easy decision to make.  We bought bus tickets, packed our bags, obtained the phone number for a taxi driver and set our alarms for an early Sunday morning departure.

Note to Selves:  Reserve a taxi for early Sunday morning getaways.  We’d made many early morning taxi rides previously but failed to realize that Sunday mornings are sacrosanct to Lagos taxi drivers.  After being turned down cold by the gentleman we’d been assured would drive us, we went down our list of phone numbers with a growing sense of unease.  And at 06:15 in the morning, it wasn’t much fun rousing hard working taxi drivers from their sleep only to be told a groggy “no” for a ride to the bus station.  We came up with a hasty Plan B (and a Plan C should we need it), drove over to our friend’s home who was coming with us and hitched a ride with her pet sitter who’d just arrived. He at least was happy to accept €10 to schlepp us to the station.

The previous week had gifted both Portugal and Spain’s southern coasts with several inches of rain and, because the Algarve is a rural province, the fields were varying shades of green.  The rain followed us all the way to Seville but, after our first day of playing enthusiastic tourists braving the occasional rain showers (and minus one umbrella at the end of the day) the weather changed to cool and partly sunny, perfect sightseeing conditions.  And, for self-professed history geeks and wanna-be culture vultures, Seville is the perfect place to indulge your interests.  There are endless things to see and do in the city but here are 9 things we can recommend:

Real Alcazar of Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go1) Topping our list for a revisit, The Real Alcázar of Seville is a group of palaces over a thousand years old dating back to the 11th century.  The upper levels are still occupied by Spain’s Royal Family which makes it the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.  We have to agree with Lonely Planet who said they hoped that “heaven looks a little bit like the Alcázar”  and we were head-over-heels wowed during our first visit in January.   A UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987, one, two, three pictures and more are worth a thousand words. Real Alcazar of Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Real Alcazar of Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Real Alcazar of Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To GoWe paid the extra money for the self-guided audio tour but, after only a half hour of listening, left the earphones dangling around our necks because (we can’t believe we’re saying this) the didactic, historic monologue proved to be a huge distraction. This is a place to stop and stare, listen to the fountains and breathe in the scent of sour oranges – a place that really just needs to be enjoyed.

2) For those of you thinking, “Seen one cathedral too many,” the Cathedral of Seville or Catedral de Sevilla is an awe-inspiring, tremble-at-the-knees, kind of place. Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

The third largest church (a football field would fit inside easily) and the largest Gothic Cathedral in the world, it’s also registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  We’d visited the cathedral during a service the first time (the organ music was sublime) which limited what we could see and a return was also high on our list of things to do.  Built between the 15th and 16th Centuries, the body of Christopher Columbus is entombed here in splendor and, should you wonder where all the gold Spain plundered from the New World ended up, the 20 meter (66 feet) altar would be a good start. Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Crypt of Christopher Columbus

Crypt of Christopher Columbus

The bell tower of the Cathedral deserves a special mention below.

3) The Tower of Giralda was built in the 12th Century as a minaret of the Great Mosque which formerly occupied the site of the Cathedral of Seville.The Tower of Giralda, Cathedral of Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

At 105 meters (343 feet), the tower is an iconic symbol in the city.  Topped with a 16th century belfry and a weather vane of a huge bronze, statuesque beauty nicknamed “El Giraldillo” bearing a cross, there’s no mistaking which religion is on top of the tower now.  There’s a separate charge to climb the tower and, as you climb the THIRTY-FOUR ramps up, there are alcoves along the way to (pretend) to admire the incredible views while you gasp for breath.  And bells that vibrated us right down to the soles of our shoes when they tolled.   Giralda Tower-Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

View from Giralda Tower - Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. Photo by No Particular Place To Go4) Lest you think that Seville is only full of centuries old palaces, mansions and churches (and it is, it is!) the Plaza de España was built for the Ibero-American Exhibition of 1929, a kind of World’s Fair. Located in the city center in the middle of Maria Luisa Park, the brick monument is an exuberant combination of Art Deco, Renaissance and Moorish Revival architecture, embellished with exquisitely painted ceramic tiles.Plaza de Espana, Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Plaza de Espana, Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To GoThe enormous brick buildings form a semi-circle around a plaza complete with a moat-like canal running through it and crossed by four gaily-painted bridges.  To say we were captivated might have been an understatement and, with the blessing from the warm weather gods, we decided to nix our plans to visit the museums originally on our itinerary and instead spent hours wandering around the grounds, watching inexpertly rowed boats float by and soaking up the feeling of stepping back to the previous century.The Tower of Giralda, Cathedral of Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Plaza de Espana, Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go5) Seville celebrates all things Flamenco, an intense dance linked with Southern Spain’s Andalusian Roma, aka the Gypsies.

Flamenco dresses displayed in a shop.

Flamenco dresses displayed in a shop.

By chance, we happened upon a street performance with a thin and wiry dancer who struck theatrical poses, clapped her hands and finger-snapped, swirling and stomping her feet upon a wooden platform.  Her male companions played the guitar and tambourine, while one cupped the microphone in his hands and sang mournfully. Flamenco dancer and musicians. Seville. Photo by No Particular Place To Go We were so intrigued by the street dance that we followed a friend’s recommendation (thanks KemKem!) and bought tickets for an evening concert.  The flamenco conjures up enough intense emotions to satisfy any drama queen and we also fell under the spell.   In fact, when we did a little more reading about the art form the next day, we learned that UNESCO had “declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity” in 2010.

A slightly blurry but nonetheless stirring performance.

A slightly blurry photo but nonetheless, a stirring performance.

6) We’re not quite sure how the massive and very contemporary (2011) Metropol Parasol came to be built in the old quarter of Seville’s La Encarnación square but we appreciated the jarring contrast between the ancient and ultra-modern sights of the city.  Claiming to be the world’s largest wooden structure, we had no trouble imagining the controversy its construction would have roused since its six parasols have earned it the less-than-stellar nickname, “Incarnación’s mushrooms.”  However, we loved its sensuous curves and swoops as well as the walkways on the highest level which gave us an amazing 360° view of Seville. Metropol Parasol. Seville, Spain. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Views from the Metropol Parasol. Seville,Spain. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

Views from the Metropol Parasol. Seville,Spain. Photo by No Particular Place To GoWe came to Seville with a map and list of things to do and see but it seemed that the city set its own pace.  We saw more than we realized but found that we also slowed down to enjoy:

7) random and rambling walks throughout the historic city,

8) sharing a cone of roasted chestnuts and stopping at sidewalk cafes to savor tapas and lingering meals with friends and

9) absorbing the sights and sounds of an ancient city coexisting with a metropolitan city of modern and sophisticated people.

At the end of our second visit to Seville we were unsurprised to count the many things we’d seen and done but, like all great experiences, we were left wanting more.  We have many more trips to Spain planned for 2017 (Madrid, Salamanca, Bilbao, Leon…) and, since all roads east of Lagos, Portugal lead to Seville, Spain, it won’t be hard to talk us into making a third visit to a city that’s got a piece of our hearts.street scene - Seville,Spain photo by No Particular Place To Go

By Anita Oliver and Richard Nash

A note of thanks to our awesome friends Kiki Bridges, and Tim and Anne Hall who blog at A New Latitude who made this trip even more fun by sharing the adventure with us!rainy day in Seville, Spain. Photo by No Particular Place To Go

 

72 comments

  • Hi Anita and Richard: Thank you for such a great post! I enjoy reading your blog. I plan to visit Seville, Cordoba and Granada this summer. Do you have a hotel/ hostel in Seville and Granada that you could recommend?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Natalie and thanks for stopping by our blog as well as taking the time to comment. We’re so glad you like this post and have to tell you that you are in for some great times ahead with your Spain itinerary. (Just in case you couldn’t tell that we loved it there. 🙂) For our first trip where we visited both Seville and Granada, we shared an AirBnB apartment with some friends. On our most recent trip to Seville, we stayed at a lovely hotel that was spendier than what we usually pay with lousy Wi-Fi and a great location. On the other hand, a friend who was traveling with us stayed a couple of blocks away at the Hostal Kitsch which we checked out for a future visit and it was terrific, including the Wi-Fi! We have a friend who lives in Seville who also recommended the Hotel Alcantara which was reasonably priced but it was booked when we tried to reserve a room. Hope this helps and enjoy your stay!

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  • Wonderful Colors !!!

    Thanks for sharing 😇

    Liked by 1 person

  • Thank you for this article!
    I have been in Sevilla few years ago and it was an amazing experience! I visited a lot of places and did a website about it with some articles 🙂
    https://operalphotography.wordpress.com/2016/12/02/seville/

    Liked by 1 person

  • Darn, I had commented but I see the comment never made it here.

    Just wanted to say that I’m glad you made it to Sevilla, it’s a great place. We spent 2 months there last summer and fell in love with it and will definitely be back. Your photos are great by the way 😉

    Frank (bbqboy)

    Liked by 2 people

    • Aw, the 11th dimension where emails float around! Thanks, Frank for making the effort to comment again and we’re so glad that you liked the pics. The city is really photogenic! It wasn’t hard to guess you were head-over-heels with Seville or that it was the perfect place and perfect time for you. It is a beautiful city and while we were bummed that we missed KemKem and Fede, we had a most excellent time and left with the idea that we’d be returning again. Maybe our paths will cross there in 2017? 😀

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      • That would be great – we have a few things in the air and at this point don’t know how things will pan out. But Andalusia a region we want to return to and see in greater detail. And maybe next time we can make it to the Algarve 😉

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        • We’re looking forward to a lot of return visits to Spain! I think you’d like the Algarve area, Frank and we’d love to show you some of our favorites. BTW, if you make it this way, plan on skipping June, July and August or you’ll get a repeat of your experience in Lisbon. The travel mags are putting the spotlight on the region and, with Turkey in such turmoil, more tourists are opting for Portugal. That said, you’re welcome anytime! 🙂

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  • I would like to go Seville ! Such a nice place ! Thank you for your post
    leave you my post about celebration of New Year’s Eve in Madrid – another important spanish city
    https://traveltomeetyourheart.wordpress.com/2017/01/07/12-grapes-new-years-eve-spain-madrid/

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks for sharing your post on Madrid. It’s on our wish list – maybe our next trip to Spain? And it looks like an amazing city to be in to enjoy the Christmas celebrations! As for Seville, maybe the next time you have a chance to visit Spain you’ll be able to see why we love it!

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      • For sure ! I really recommend Madrid. It is big city capital of Spain and there is a lot of amazing places to see. I am living there now for some months and I didn’t discover everything. As I am in Spain I wish I will can make some days trip to Andalusia. 😀 Thank you for nice answer for my comment.

        Liked by 1 person

  • This post will be our travel guide when we make it over to your neck of the woods. Seville looks wonderful. I agree with Alison, I want to see everything you did! Great photos!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Well, Seville is one of the cities which would have me come back! I’m sure I didn’t even scratch the surface during my last visit. I can’t see why the Metropol Parasol should trigger much controversy as I see in one of your photos mostly modern squarish buildings in the background. To me it seems to be a transition point between the historic centre and more modern suburbs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Seville is a good city to revisit Juergen and well worth the time. We loved the Metropol Parasol and, besides being a landmark with its flowing silhouette, it serves several functions including a protective structure over Roman ruins that are being excavated on the ground level, a large indoor market, several restaurants and multiple observation points to see panoramic views of the city. And you’re right, it’s a great transition!

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  • Hi! Thanks for the trip down memory lane. I absolutely adored Seville and would go back in a heartbeat, Did you find the flamenco museum? I remember it being tucked up a tiny street. I think I found it by luck.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The flamenco museum was recommended by a friend, Nancie and was on our (very long) list of things to see. Unfortunately we ran out of time. We did see a great flamenco museum in Cordoba that gave us a broader understanding of the art form and we’re hoping to do some reading to learn more about it. So much to learn and another reason, along with the museums, to return, right? 🙂

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  • Oh! Those magnificent gold altars are really something special, aren’t they? We saw so many while walking the Camino across Spain. We became fascinated with cathedrals and couldn’t get enough so now we have another to add to our list. If you find yourselves in Leon, the cathedral is one of our favorites. I don’t think you’d have to twist my arm too tightly to convince me to visit Seville, I’ve read so many good things about the city. Definitely on our must visit list.

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    • We agree with you totally, Patti about the cathedrals and share your fascination. In so many of the little villages, they are the magnet buildings and showcase the finest and unique architecture and art of each area. Leon is on our “must see” list of future cities to explore in Spain and I’ll make sure to include the cathedral on our list. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  • Sevilla is one of our favorite places. We often talk about getting a place there. Then we’d be almost neighbors!

    Liked by 1 person

  • Seville is something else, looks like you enjoyed it. World Heritage sites aplenty, all in one place. I was there 3 years ago, for a coule of days, and had a great time getting totally lost in the Medina.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The narrow and winding streets are really “something else” and since one of us is directionally challenged, we spent quite a bit of time backtracking to find familiar landmarks. You’re right though, it’s a fun way to learn a city and you never know what sights you’ll run into by accident. All part of the fun of exploring a new city!

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  • Lovely blog and great post on Sevilla (I found you through Alison and Don’s wonderful blog). We were in Sevilla just over a year ago visiting our son while he was doing a study abroad semester. We fell in love with the city and your post brings back great memories. I totally agree that the city sets its own pace and we spent much time just wandering and people watching in nice outdoor cafes. I’m sure I saw the same street performers doing Flamenco! I look forward to exploring more of your blog.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re great fans of Alison and Don’s blog and are so glad that you stopped by ours to check it out. It sounds like you set your sightseeing priorities in a somewhat similar way, Caroline as exploring a city should be about the sights and landmarks but also the people and absorbing the “vibes.” We left the city with some of our list uncrossed but it gives us an excuse to return and even revisit some favorites!

      Liked by 1 person

  • Oh you brought back so many good memories of Seville. . .some places that we’d even forgotten that we had seen there. Absolutely loved our trip and yours as well. Happy New Year you two kindred souls!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • So glad you enjoyed the trip down memory lane, Jackie. You’re right about “kindred souls” and I’m looking forward to trading stories with you and Joel in person. As fellow travelers sharing the same continent, we’re wishing you many more new cities to travel in the new year and hope that 2017 will be the year our paths cross!

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  • Seville has always appealed to me a city to visit. After seeing those photos and reading about your experience I definitely want to go!

    Liked by 2 people

  • This was definitely my favorite city to visit in Andalucía, I would go back in a heart beat

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  • Your post of Seville re-awakened memories of my visit there in 2014–and added a few I missed, like the Cathedral. We attended a dinner flamenco performance, and the food was quite good. (Not fond of most dinner-theaters because of the mass-produced cuisine.) And, as you found, the photo opportunities and options at the Plaza de Espana are countless!

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    • We’re so glad you enjoyed your walk down memory lane! It’s really too bad that you missed the Cathedral but there’s so much to see and do in Seville that it’s a matter of picking and choosing. For us, once we arrived at the Plaza de Espana and were blessed with sunny weather, the museums took second place in our priorities. Maybe next time!

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  • I’d forgotten how beautiful Seville is – thanks for the reminder!

    Liked by 2 people

  • Pingback: All Roads Lead To Seville; Anita & Richard; No Particular Place To Go – All About World Heritage Sites

  • I’ve seen other parts of Spain quite well on other trips, but I’ve never been to Seville! It looks wonderful! And your pictures are wonderful too!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Rachel. We give it two thumbs up! Spain is an incredibly diverse and fascinating country and we’ve had fun exploring different areas over the last year as well as reading about your experiences and recommendations for future places to visit. We’re looking forward to more trips by car and bus in 2017!

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  • I really appreciate the historical information you include and the pictures are fantastic. Looking forward to visiting Seville in 2 years. Next year – South America!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks Steven for your very kind words. We like our history in small and large doses and it’s a great way to put the places we see in context. Sounds like the travel bug has bitten you, too and that you’ve got some ambitious ideas roughed out for the next couple of years. We spent some time in South America and loved the countries we visited (Ecuador, Colombia and Peru) and hope that you enjoy your travels there. And when you make it to Spain, maybe you’ll consider crossing the nearby border to Portugal for a meet-up somewhere!

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  • Anita and Richard, we really loved Seville and you’ve captured it beautifully. And your photos are gorgeous! James and I want to wish you a happy and healthy New Year filled with love and adventure. All the very best, Terri

    Liked by 2 people

    • We’re so glad you liked the photos, Terri and James. It seemed our cameras were out the whole time and that Seville just kept presenting its best side. And we’re returning your New Year’s wishes along with the hope that one of these days our paths will cross. Here’s to a healthy 2017 and many “happy trails” ahead! Anita

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  • Loved your pictures and we share your delight for this city. One visit won’t be enough and next time Anne has said that we have to do the carriage ride regardless of the cost. It was great to share our trip with both of you. Tm & Anne

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  • I am totally wowed by this blog post and now badly want to visit Seville. With so much to see, how long to you reccomend to see the main highlights? The giant wooden parasol is amazing and I think it is a great contrast to the centuries old architecture. Beautiful photos, thank you for the ever increasing list of wanderlust inspiration 😄

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    • We’re so glad we were able to share our “wowed” feelings with you, Gilda and can just about guarantee that you’ll come away from Seville feeling the same way. We were there for 3 nights/almost 4 days and I would have loved to have added on one more night to see a few more things. And, like you, our list of “Must See” cities and countries keeps growing too!

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  • This is a tremble on your knees kind of post! Incredible! Thanks for the tour and have a lovely New Year!

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    • Thanks so much Debbie. It was rather hard to curb our enthusiasm for Seville after our first trip there and our second trip ended up with us finding even more to love about the city. Lucky for us, it’s only a short bus or car ride away and we still have a list of reasons to visit, not the least of which are the incredible tapas. Here’s to more travel adventures for all of us in the New Year and we’re returning your wishes for a happy 2017 also!

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  • Wonderful post! I am immediately saving it for when we visit Seville next summer. I want to see every thing you’ve mentioned. It all sounds and looks so gorgeous!
    Alison

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    • We’ll keep some maps for you, Alison and make sure to ask us for the name of a great and inexpensive hostel very close to both the Alcazar and Cathedral. There’s so much to love about Seville and discovering it for yourselves will be so much fun. And then there’s all the rest of Spain to explore too. 😀 Our list of recommendations is going to be very long!

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  • I had a wonderful holiday in Spain. Great memories! Loved this post and the beautiful photos!

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  • Beautiful & Happy New Year! 🍷🎊🎈🎉🎆💃

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  • Sounds and looks great from your pictures. I never made it to Spain during my five years in Europe, but I wish I had. I might have to plan a trip. Glad that you guys are enjoying your life.

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    • Europe has so many amazing places to go (so many countries are still on our must-see list) that it’s easy to understand how you could get sidetracked from a trip to Spain while you were here. Never-the-less, a trip to Spain (and don’t forget Portugal, too) would be well worth the time and effort! Go ahead … plan a trip for 2017! 🙂

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  • Goodness – I’m SOLD! Honestly? *nothing* I saw in (so lauded) Croatia can compare with what you so bountifully presented here, Anita. Alas, with the entire continent of South America so neatly at my fingertips here in Ecuador – I do believe another flight to Europe is in my sooner-rather-than-later future. All truly stunning!

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    • Croatia is high on our list for 2017 travels, mostly because of it’s amazing natural beauty but also to see its much lauded architecture and ancient cities. But we have to agree, Dyanne, it would be hard to compete with either Seville or another favorite Spanish city of ours, Barcelona! Let us know when you plan to return to Europe and we’ll try hard to meet up for a face-to-face. Happy 2017!

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  • Great post! And I kept nodding as we also were in Seville in January and then returned (by bus this time) for the week before Christmas! You captured so many of the highlights. Maybe next time we will run into you there 😊

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    • How funny that your year began and ended similar to ours! January was enough to pique our interest in the city and December showed us, as you said, so many more highlights. It’s really nice and makes it easier to leave a favorite city planning another return to see and do more, as well as just wander around. Here’s hoping our paths cross in 2017!

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  • Okay, okay, another bucket list item! Great pictures, history lesson, insights and anecdotes. Wow, that’s a lot of gold! And the contrast is amazing. Can’t wait to read your report from the rest of Spain.
    ME/BE

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    • Our time in Mexico and Central America, especially Panama with all the pirate stories, was a fascinating education on the systematic looting of the “New World’s” gold by the Old World, especially Spain. It’s not hard to wonder where the beautiful treasures we saw actually originated from. That said, the artistry and embellishment are jaw-dropping amazing and deserve some time to just sit there and appreciate it all!

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  • Seeing Seville through your eyes makes me wish I could visit again and start fresh (hmmmm……..nope, once was enough for me) But I love your version of the city and know it is a much more common reaction than mine 😉

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    • Sounds like there’s a story there Susan … We’re going to have to go through your archives to read it! Isn’t it interesting how each of us reacts to different cities? Some we fall in love with and make the effort to revisit again and again, some are meh and others (like Marrakesh) leave us cold and wanting to depart as soon as we can! That’s definitely some of the allure to reading travel blogs as well as the chance to learn more or just dream!

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      • (insert chuckle) So true! It’s a funny thing to admit, but I truly enjoy going to places where I don’t fall in love with the experience. I like the other ones – the love fests – too, but who says you have to equally enjoy everything? I haven’t yet written about Seville, and hope to do it with a kind, gentle keyboard 🙂

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  • Imagine that the Parasol was approved by a council of old men who wanted to invigorate the city, and they certainly accomplished it. Love it or hate it, it has become part of the landscape of Seville. Glad you guys were able to see a flamenco show. Now you guys really have to stop showing me how wonderful Seville is, otherwise we might sign up for a 3rd year 🙂 !!! . Great writeup of our current home.

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    • Loved the flamenco show but what drama! I know I wouldn’t want such a passionate or intense relationship – so much work! 😀 We were sorry we missed you during our trip to Seville but I have no doubt that our roads will cross again in 2017. As for your future home, we’re looking forward to your decision. No doubt it will sway our choice of where to visit next in your adopted country!

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  • I’m deeply impressed with your photos. Fantastic post ❤

    Liked by 3 people

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