Thursday, 19 April 2007

17th April

17th April


I wandered up into Dos Hermanas town and managed to buy a return ticket in my best Spanish to Sevilla - Santa Justa station. 1.80e return... really cheap. When the train arrived, I was on the wrong platform and had to sprint down the stairs and back up the other side to be in with a chance of catching it. I'd forgotten that the trains run wrong way round from Britain and Ireland, i.e., as in the other side of the road for driving. Anyway, drama averted, I rode the 3 or 4 stops into Santa Justa. I really didn't have any clue where I needed to go once out of the station, so I just followed the crowd in the hope that the general direction was to the city centre. It was a stroke of luck, as not only was I going the right way, but I came across a discount electronics store, so I popped in there and managed to pick up a 2Gb memory card for the sat nav for 17e. This means I can use the smaller one from the sat nav in my digital camera, so result all round.

Initially, I think I must have been on the outskirts of the centre, as the buildings were all of a fairly modern architechtural style, but initial impressions were good about the city. Once I finally found the city centre proper, I was even more pleased with my visit. Down by the river reminded me a bit of Paris and the River Seine and there were even cruise boats running in the style of Paris' 'Bateaux Mouches'. I had a wander down a pedestrianised street where they are busy installing a tram network and wandered into a building belonging to Sevilla University. It had orignally been a tobacco factory and was built in a very grand style.

I continued my journey and was just moseying around really, when I spotted the city tour buses parked across the road, so I decided to buy a ticket and see the sights that way. There were lots of old British Leyland Atlantean double decker buses being used by the rival tour operator, so now I know where some of them have gone to retire. These were the same type of buses I used to travel on in Glasgow when I was a boy. In fact, Glasgow had one of the largest fleets of Atlanteans in the Uk, somthing like 1400 buses they bought from the early 1960's through to the early 80's - useless piece of info for anyone reading. Anyway, point being, they don't build buses to last like that any more!

The bus trip was a good idea, as Sevilla's sights are spread out over quite a large area and the tour took about an hour to complete it's circuit. Interesting to see Sevilla had hosted 2 exposistions, one in 1929, of which lots of the pavilions have been retained and converted for other uses, which saddened me to think that all of Glasgow's 1938 Empire Expo pavilions have been lost; just shows what can be done. The flip side to this was that the 1992 expo pavilions looked to be in a sadly neglected state, as if no-one knows what to do with them. Either convert them or pull them down, as they're a waste of space otherwise. There was even a life sized replica of the Arianne 4 rocket used to launch European satellites.

It was very interesting to see all the palaces, gardens and colleges. Sevilla is a pretty city with a lot of life about it and a population af around 700,000 people. Sevillan's also seem to be on the whole a good looking bunch of people. Some parts of the old city wall are still standing, although much of it had been removed in the 19th century to allow the city to expand, but it's good to see that at least a part of it survives.

I stopped off for a spot of lunch after the tour was over, as by this stage I was starving. Sadly, I chose an Irish pub, purely out of handiness, as I happened to be passing it. The food was fine, but the beer was too expensive at 4.40e a pint. I thought I was back in Dublin! I must make a point of going to a proper Spanish place next time. I had ordered my food in Spanish, but even then, I found the waiter addressed me in English when he came back to check the order. Can't win it seems....

Finally, I took a walk into the Barria de Santa Cruz, which is the city's old Jewish Quarter, although they managed to drive them out in the 1490's, so it's maybe a bit of a tall tale to think that there's much Jewishness left in it! It was an interesting wander around though, as the narrow streets and passageways wind their way in a maze of unfathonable proportions to the uninitiated visitor. I really liked this area and could have easily spent longer there, maybe taking in a meal had I not already eaten at Chez Arthur (Guiness!!).

I walked back to another train station I'd seen, San Bernardo, which was far closer to the centre, and rode the train back to Dos Hermanas. At no stage today did I feel in any way threatened like you sometimes can feel in a city. Sevilla is a city that I felt instantly at home and at ease in.

Back to the campsite and was surprised at how cool the van was when I opened the door. Those old, tall palm trees certainly provide good shade! As I was having a beer, an old guy in one of those little mobility scooters came tootling past and started chatting to me in Spanish about my knackered exhaust. Manana, I told him, but it spurred me on to have a look at it. In the end, I removed the broken tail pipe section completely and tied the silencer up with both wire and a bungee cord. I knew packing those may come in handy..... I'll need to try and get a new silencer ordered in Cordoba or Madrid. Hopefully it should last until then- just be a bit noisier, that's all.

Weather, scorchio once again.... 30 deg C in Sevilla in late afternoon, but it never felt opressive. It's very much a dry heat, so you don't feel all sweaty and sticky in it. Right... I'm off to chill and to see whether all my maps have transferred to my new cheapo memory card! Hasta manana........

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