Erynn and I went to our third World Rowing Championships in 2002, which were held in Sevilla, Spain. In English, it's Seville. Erynn and I fell in love with southern Spain. The weather was fantastic and the people were great. We flew in and out of Malaga and rented a car. We drove around for a few days before reaching Seville where we met up with some friends, Patrick and Miren. Both Patrick and Miren speak Spanish, so it made our trip extremely comfortable. They both had been to Seville so they took us to all of the cool places. While driving around before Seville we stopped in Gibraltar for a day and Cadiz for a short while. On the way back we stopped in the old city of Ronda.
I have to say that I thought Gibraltar was interesting, but I don't have the desire to ever return. We saw Gib, as the locals call it, as a dirty version of England. The place was filthy, cramped and stuck on the side of a rock. But hey, been there and got the passport stamp. Sorted.
Taking your car into Gibraltar is a nightmare. The entire place is only 3km long so parking is at a premium. Therefore, people usually park and walk in. Tour buses park outside too so the entire place kinda looks like GibraltarLand! A little English amusement park in the middle of Spain. Anyway, as you walk in you see this sign. I don't know about you, but I was a little unsettled. You have to cross the runway that they built out into the see in order to enter the place. It reminds you that the sole purpose of Gib is as a military base similar to Malta.
The fine citizens of Gib wanted us to feel welcome so they erected this sign.
Once you cross the runway, you have to go through this gate. In the day, this was the only entrance to The Rock with only one key. The still have a "Key to the Gate" type of ceremony for the tourists. When there was actually a threat of invasion long ago they locked the gate every night. Now there's a big 4 lane road cut through the wall so cars can get in.
Erynn likes big guns. And guns are everywhere in Gib.
I don't know about you, but the irony displayed here makes this the best picture I've ever taken. The possible advertising slogans are endless.... Fly British Airways for the Blandest Experience of Your Life. Bland Travel - Nothing Exciting Here.
Email me your own suggestions for slogans and I'll add them here.
Erynn also likes monkeys. You should hear her monkey call, which is just slightly weaker than her stellar turkey call. Ask her to perform when you see her. Well, Erynn just happened to see a BBC documentary on the monkeys of Gibraltar and northern Morrocco about two days before our trip. I found them to be really disgusting and annoying, but Erynn can tell you all about them. Basically, the ones in Gib are fed by tourists and never die, but they've become really numerous and annoying. The Morroccan ones die miserable deaths because that's the way natural selection is meant to work. Remember this comes from the BBC, which is the voice of the liberal, bleeding heart, tree hugging society.
We took a cable car up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar and here is the view. You can see the end of the runway jutting out into the Med. Just past the runway in the distance is Spain, and everything at the bottom of the picture is Gib.
After Gibraltar we stopped in Cadiz (pronounced roughly like Cadith) for a few hours. We just walked around and enjoyed the nice weather. If you look closely at this picture you'll recognize the view. This view was "Havana, Cuba" for the James Bond movie Die Another Day.
After Cadiz, we headed to our main destination of Seville. The Alcazar in Seville is immense. It's an ancient palace with many, many buildings and gardens. One could probably spend an entire day just walking the grounds, but we only had a few hours. Above are some of the photos I took within the courtyards and gardens.
And here are Erynn, Patrick, and Miren in front of the entrance to the Alcazar.
One of the places we all enjoyed was the Plaza de Espana. The building is in the form of a semicircle and was built for the 1929 Hispanoamerican Exhibition. Parts of it are very run down, but it is still amazing. On the inside walls are little cubicles fitted with tiles representing each of the regions of Spain. The designs of the tiles are meant to represent the flavor of each of the regions. You can see the Plaza over our shoulders. The place is so big it was impossible to get the "postcard shot" to do the place justice.
Here are Erynn and Miren posing in front of one of the tile cubicles in the Plaza de Espana. Miren is from Bilbao in the region of Vizcaya, which is the industrial north of Spain and home to the Basques. From everything Miren has told us over the years about Bilboa, Erynn and I will certainly visit there some day. And even in Sevilla, Miren has a toe in her Basque country!
And here are a couple more photos of the Plaza de Espana.
On our walk back into town from the Plaza de Espana, we passed the Palacio de San Telmo pictured above.
The four of us spent a couple nights eating in Triana next to the river. Life really doesn't get any better than this. And from where we were sitting we had a great view of the the Puente de Isabel II in the second picture.
Seville is full of beautiful plazas with cafes and tourist shops. Here are a couple pictures of the Plaza del Triunto and the ubiquitous horse carts whose only purpose apparently is to make the entire city stink.
I have no idea who this statue is for. But I believe that Erynn discovered churros y chocolat in a cafe located to the rear and right of this statue. She's tried in vain to duplicate the culinary delight she experienced at this cafe. If I'm not mistaken this cafe is Patrick's favorite too. ;-)
Sadly, we had to leave Seville, but on the way back to the airport in Malaga we stopped in Ronda for a few hours. Ronda is where the first bull ring was located and is famous for the cliffs running through the center of town. Above is a picture of the Puenta Nueva (New Bridge), which is one of three that span the valley. The second picture shows me on the other side of town with the same bridge in the background.
I can't even imagine trying to build these places on cliffs like these.
Here is the main square in Ronda the Plaza Jose Aparicio. What amazed me was the fact that we were standing on top of a parking garage. They tore out the guts of this perfect medievil town and made a place to park. The British could learn a few things, because it certainly did not take anything away from the experience yet made things remarkably convenient.
© 2002 Doug Rathburn