Thursday, March 15, 2012

Spain 2012: Seville! Part 1

All right. Here we are. Back to tracking our Spain 2012 adventure:

It was a rather lengthy bus ride up to Seville from the coast since we ended up on a non-direct bus. Except for the industrial area along the coast it was a beautiful ride though--got to see some more of the "White Towns" to boot. After settling into our hotel we went for a stroll--and to find some cafe con leche! After that though, I had one thing on my mind. 

Nuns. 

Nuns and their cookies. It's fairly typical across Spain that nuns make and sell baked goods. When I was living in Salamanca my friend Amy and I had some of the best cookies I've ever had made by cloistered nuns. These nuns though, they are always eluding me. Several times throughout the week I had spotted convents with cookies for sale, but they were closed. 

Back in Seville, I searched out this place: 


Which is beautiful and all, but what I was looking for was this shop inside it:


And it was open! El Torno is a bakery and shop for things like communion/baptismal clothes which the cloistered nuns make. It's called "El Torno" because before there was a kind of lazy susan wall where you could put your money and order, spin it, then spin it again--and there would be your order and your change. That way the nuns would never have to make contact with the outside. Now they just have regular folks working the register inside--Regular folks who sold me delicious almond nun cookies!

Ater walking around the old quarter for a bit we trekked out past the old tobacco factory and to Plaza de Espana. 


I love the Plaza de Espana. The last time I was there it was all under construction so I hadn't even realized that there were canals through the plaza. Now that all the restoration work has finished you can even rent boats to paddle through the plaza. 


But, just the same as when I was there last, the Plaza was almost completely deserted. Granted it was a little cold out, but the lack of crowds lends it a forgotten treasure kind of feel. 


Back in the city center I spotted some Camino De Santiago signage for the Via de la Plata (the route that comes up from the south) and geeked out!

The next morning we conquered the Alcazar--the city's old fortress. I had been once before, but I had not remembered it correctly. I was afraid that after visiting the Alhambra this would be lackluster, but I was really impressed by the thing--especially since we had the palace almost all to ourselves. 









Afterwards we wondered the sprawling gardens for a while and soaked up all the sun we could. 





After all that walking around in the Alcazar we settled into a little cafe in the Barrio Santa Cruz and had some well deserved coffee. My father was in need of some aspirin, so I left them for a second to find one of these:

I won't even try to hid it--after walking the Camino de Santiago (where finding an open pharmacy in a town was like stumbling onto a pot of gold--and where the bandaids, athletic tape and ibuprofen sold inside were more valuable cash), I am fascinated by Spanish pharmacies. I especially love these retro ones. I had a nostalgic moment, bought the aspirin and was back before my coffee got cold.  

{And that's the end of Seville Part 1! More to come.}

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