We drove through Seville on our way to the villa we rented in Valencina de la Concepción and I was not impressed. From the top balcony, we have a beautiful view of the night lights of Seville. Seville, like most cities in Europe was small, old and extremely beautiful before it sprawled and those parts outside of the old city seem devoid of character in comparison. We drove through one such section on our way here.
We got into the villa about an hour early taking the housekeeper by surprise. She spoke no English and my Spanish is not quite passable. I’ve forgotten past, past-imperfect, and future tenses almost completely. I never spoke conversational Spanish in the first place and I’ve lost well over half of what I’d ever learned. This makes understanding difficult and asking questions nigh impossible.
I think one of the things that bothers me most about struggling with a language like Spanish is when the person on the other end is impatient. Most hispanic people I’ve met are so laid back that they just exude patience and understanding as you struggle to communicate. Here that hasn’t been the case; I’ve felt that people are just frustrated that I don’t speak their language — and they don’t speak English either. I think with other languages and cultures I will be more understanding, but this experience has left me uniquely disappointed.
Lisa has delegated planing of all our day activities to the girls. They did research on all the towns nearby and decided what they most wanted to do in each. Since Seville is at our doorstep relative to the others in the region, we started there.
Heading back into Seville was interesting and quite annoying. The traffic is fairly bad and the parking situation is entirely horrible. If you’re going to visit Seville, I’d recommend getting a taxi and staying at a hotel. We did not and spent at least an hour driving in and finding parking. From there we began to venture by foot into the old city.
There is something I particularly hate about waiting in line. I don’t enjoy meals or rides or other experiences when I've had to wait in line. Don’t get me wrong, I’m fine waiting… just not while I can’t do other things of value. Tell me I can’t do something now, I’ll plan to do it in a few days instead… the important thing is that I’ll do something else enriching in the interim… standing in line is not enriching. Looking for parking falls squarely into the “standing in line” category of waiting. Fuck that, but back to the good stuff.
Seville is home of the Catedral de Sevilla, the third largest Church in the world… it’s big. We walked around it, but didn’t go in it on our visit as the young ladies had selected the Real Alcázar de Sevilla for our visit. It did not disappoint; it was absolutely gorgeous.
We had planned on hitting Seville before lunch and swinging by the supermarket on the way back to get lunch and dinner stuffs, but a slightly late start and the parking trauma derailed those plans. One thing that I’ve always been fairly good at (and continue to improve upon on this trip) is accepting that plans change. We found lunch in a little bodega serving tapas near the cathedral and had some delicious food: of note was the goat cheese with pine nuts and honey on bread chips. We swung by a sweets shop and picked up some delicate cookies for the dessert to be had later than evening and headed back.
We swung by the local supermarket called “Dia.” I learned (much to my regret) that they have their own branded beer (think what Costco or BJs beer would be like). The quality and selection of everything here is so radically different than home and certainly less impressive than Sweden or Germany. Never-the-less, my internal recipe book is sufficient to compensate. I cooked homemade turkey-chorizo burgers on the grill for dinner.
Grilling, and specifically cooking over charcoal, is something I miss terribly from home. The convenience of grilling (and smoking) foods at home makes it an afterthought in the dinner planning process. On the road, it has to be central to the planning process (when it is possible at all) making it an infrequent treat. On that topic, it irritates me to no end when you rent a house with a full working kitchen but they have no spices other than salt and pepper (or none at all). You must have spices to cook and you’ll never use all of the spices you purchase for a short (week or so) stay. We end up buying spices (like oregano, paprika, cumin, etc.) and then we’re stuck with what we’ll do with the left overs at the end of the stay. Here in Europe, we can toss our “carry-forward” bag in the the Vasawagn and move on, but when we leave Europe this is going to result in a lot of over purchasing and abandoning leftovers.
Another difference from home (which is pretty serious) is not knowing where butchers are and which ones to trust. The reason grilling food is so easy is because the meat does all the work. If you have an underachieving protein, you’ll know it in every bite.
Dinner was well received and we followed our meal with a showing of “Mocking Jay: Part I.” Zoe's phone ran out of batteries about 80% through an we had to call it quits. Zoe attested that his was the first time since leaving the United States that her phone has ran out of batteries. Tori responded: "Yeah.. like Zoe freaks out when her phone is at thirty percent. It's crazy." Love these kids.