Globetrotting Seniors in Sevilla: Felicidades!

Today my parents returned from their 5 week trip to Asia.  With weather related delays and typical travel day mishaps, it took them just about 24 hours door to door.  Needless to day, they are completely conked out.  It’s funny how time can seem short and long at the same time; they were gone for more than a month, yet in a way, it feels as if they left just yesterday.  I suppose the simple routine I had house & Grandma-sitting made each day virtually indistinguishable to the next, and with the exception of the Super-storm Sandy we had nothing special happen.  During my evening stroll I thought about how little I have to report back to them in comparison to the jam-packed days they must have had.  I hope Mom kept a journal.

A sample day for me at my parents’ looked like this: After my morning jog I get breakfast ready by 8:30 and I hand my Grandma a mug of hot water with a piece of lemon and two teaspoons of honey.  If the weather is nice she does her gardening work until I ask her to pause for a snack.  She’ll watch a bit of Animal Planet (she never misses Crocodile Hunter), Food Network, or Anthony Bourdain on the Travel Channel, and then it’s lunch between 13:00 – 13:30.  In the afternoons she’ll do some light cleaning or more gardening, or it’s TV dramas while she munches on fun size candy bars (there was a lot less left for those kids coming to our house for Halloween this year).  Dinner is at 19:00 or 20:00 depending on what time Major League Baseball games are on (she cheers on the Phillies -> Yankees -> Giants, in that order).  Her favorite meal consists of a hot dog and a can of Pepsi, followed by a Hagen-Daaz vanilla ice cream bar covered with chocolate and almonds.  She eats like a 6 year-old boy but at the age of 91 (and 85 lbs) if that’s what she wants to eat everyday, well???  For the record, I don’t let her eat that everyday.

Meanwhile my globetrotting parents went to Asia twice this year and also traveled to Europe, raking up more mileage than I have (so far).  So let me get back to Europe where I left off  yesterday, to Sevilla, España.

Looking back at what we did and the amount of distance we covered on foot, I’m shocked and awed by how well my seniors got around!  Here is our day in bullet points:

: Stroll through the narrow streets of Santa Cruz with typical breakfast of pan y tomate and cafe con leche (for me a cortado!)

: Jardines de Murillo to Paseo de Roma to Plaza España (K and I running around and spotting/noting everything with the mysterious symbol for the city of Sevilla- NO8DO)

: Lunch at Vinería San Telmo

: Cathedral visit and climb up the Giralda (all 34 levels!)

: Dinner at Eslava

After a simple breakfast, we strolled through Jardines de Murillo.  We paused to look at giant ombu trees, and colorful mosaic fountains and benches.

One side of this ship notes “Fernando” and the other side says “Isabel,” or as they are better known to us, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, the Catholic Monarchs (Reyes Católicos).

We first started noticing these NO8DO sings in the garden.

Can you spot them?

We kept seeing them EVERYWHERE, and K finally couldn’t take it anymore and Googled it.  We learned that NO8DO is the logo/motto for Sevilla.  The middle symbol is not the number 8 but rather a bundle of wool, which in Spanish is “madeja.”  So you would read NO8DO as “no-madeja-do,” which is a cleaver way of expressing “no me ha dejado” – “it (Sevilla) has not abandoned me.”  The legend behind this motto goes back to the 13th century coat of arms of King Alfonso X and they say it shows the King’s gratitude to the people of Sevilla for their loyalty.

Mystery solved and questions cleared up, we headed to Plaza España.  I don’t know why it didn’t seem impressive to me when I went there two years ago (maybe it was the cold and wintery weather that had something to do with it?) but this time, I really enjoyed walking around the whole plaza.  The seniors seemed to like the place, too.

It was getting hot and I could tell that the seniors needed a rest, pronto.  Off to lunch we went.  I had high hopes for Vinería San Telmo since I had a great dinner there during my previous visit.  The menu hadn’t changed very much but there was a lot to choose from.  Sadly, the food wasn’t as good (nor the service) as before.  The foie wasn’t cleaned well and it was sinewy, the tortilla española tasted as if it had been cooked the day before and was left out to sit, the spinach salad was over-dressed, the morcilla was dry, and so on.  But I might be overly critical.  Except for the tortilla española, we polished off everything else.

The afternoon was dedicated to the Catedral de Sevilla and La Giralda.  The cathedral in Sevilla is the third largest church in the world (St. Peter’s Basilica is the largest) and I particularly like it because of Christopher Columbus’ tomb and the giant gold altar piece.  But after having visited Sagrada Familia just days prior, I’m not sure whether my family thought it was as impressive.  I think this cathedral is spectacular and I could (and have) spent hours and hours there.

Below left: tomb of Cristóbal Colón (Christopher Columbus).

Thumbs up for getting all the way up to the top!

We had a fancy dinner this evening at Eslava.  I would definitely return there for a meal at their tapas bar where I think the cramped quarters and the noise level help enhance the already fantastic food.  But since we had a group of six, that experience will have to be reserved for another day.  We did the right thing by dining in their small and intimate restaurant though, since it happened to be my aunt and uncle’s wedding anniversary; if I remember correctly, I think it was their 47th.

Our meal consisted mostly of fresh and delicious seafood, with two exceptions.  One was their award winning egg dish (it’s not on the restaurant menu but you can order it- pictured above, it was great) and the other was a local specialty, ortiguilla de Cadiz.  I didn’t remember this until a few days later but ortiguillas were available during my last visit to Sevilla, but Paula and I were too scared to try them (I even wrote about it).  Not remembering that at all, I ordered the fried ortiguillas for the table and managed to eat a few of them.  They were green and mushy, and tasted like the ocean.  Here are some Google images of ortiguillas.  Would you eat them?  Wikipedia tells me they are sea anemone found in the eastern Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean.  Sounds delicious, I know.

There were bottles of cava and jerez, and an assortment of yummy desserts to end our wonderful day.  Our kind and generous waiter brought out a special cake for the lovely couple and surprised them.  Thank you Eslava, and felicidades a mi tia y tio!

Vinería San Telmo: Paseo de Catalina de Ribera, 4, Seville, Spain

Catedral de Sevilla: Av de la Constitución, 0, Seville, Spain

Eslava: Eslava, 3, Seville, Spain

The Great Tapas Crawl of 2010: Seville

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