Seville, Spain, Wednesday November 23, 2016

Yesterday was a gloomy day in Seville, although the sun did shine through occasionally, I did a lot of walking. I have a limited transport pass for the bus system, but I didn’t use it. I’ve notice that from the hours of walking every day I am losing weight. I certainly can afford to.

I am sharing a room here in the Seville Youth Hostel with André, a French Canadian from Montreal.  He is a retired teacher of French  literature who has been traveling in Europe for months living simply by staying in hostels and preparing his own food. I did that when I was in my 20s, but he is doing it as a retiree. Maybe I should sell my house in Phoenix, burn my books, and led that life again before I am too old to do so. My legs are already trying to convince me to slow down.

But, back to André. He says he has only been in Spain for a few months, but he already speaks passable Spanish. He sits at a table in the room in the mornings, where you see him seated in the picture, and works on his grammar and vocabulary.

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Yesterday after breakfast here in the hostel, included in the price of the room, I walked into town to buy a bus ticket for my departure on Thursday to Algreciras near Gibraltar. My Spanish is excellent, but I learned to speak it as Mexicans do, and as soon as I open my mouth, or sometimes before, people know I am not from here. Occasionally someone will insist on trying out her or his few words of English on me. That was the case when I bought the bus ticket. The clerk told me “You seat is for nineteen.” Naturally I understood four-nineteen or 419, and I repeated the number back in Spanish saying there must be some mistake. “No!” he replied. “Nineteen!” Unlike Portugal, where people speak English pretty well, even Spanish people working in tourism tend to have a very basic vocabulary.

I could have taken the city bus into town. The buses run all over the city. There is also a subway line and a light rail line, but both run only a short distance and are not of much use. I suspect that their construction was halted when the economic crisis hit. Below is a picture of an approaching light rail train.

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In every tourist city in Andalucía, this region of Spain, light horse-drawn carriages are a tourist attraction. Below you see some of them waiting for business. I can understand taking a ride in one in a park, but I don’t understand the attraction of riding through busy, traffic-choked streets. I also feel sorry for the horses. They sometimes stand for hours, and when the get to move, it’s to pull tourists along the same route that they have traversed hundreds of times. They must get bored. On the other hand, the alternative is probably the glue factory. Do they still make glue from horses? In Spain or France, I suppose they would end up on someone’s dinner plate.

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Below is a shot looking north along the Guadalquivir River, which flows through Seville. I took the time on a previous visit to Seville to find out what that round tower used to be, but I have since forgotten. Today it is a small museum. For three euros you can go inside and climb the stairs to the top.

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At times the sky did partially clear, and although it was damp out, it wasn’t cold. I was wearing a sweatshirt but no jacket. As the sign below shows, it was 18 degrees Celsius, which corresponds to 64 degrees Fahrenheit.

Notice the cyclist approaching on the bike path. There is an extensive network of bike ways in Seville, and you can also rent bikes by the hour from automated stands, much as you can in other major cities throughout the world. I noticed quite a few people who seemed to be commuting on bikes. However, I see few people walking. This is a car city or a city for taking public transportation. It is not a pedestrian-friendly city.

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Below is a shot looking south along the Guadalquivir. The boat tied up along the shore takes tourists on river cruises. Also notice that the sunshine is gone and it looks as if it could rain. Thankfully, the rain didn’t arrive.

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The picture below shows the center section of the palace in Santa María Park, which starts just north of the hostel and runs almost to downtown, covering many acres of ground. It is a beautiful place to walk. The palace was originally built by the Duke of Montpensier, and the park was originally the palace gardens. The duke is long departed, of course, and now the palace and its grounds are open to the public. I was walking home when I snapped the photo, so I did not take the time to investigate the palace. Perhaps I will do that today.

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Well, it is time to turn off the computer and head out the door to see what I can come up with today.