Monday, November 27, 2006

#83 The Rain in Spain…

Stays mainly on the plain.

Yes, we’ve had some rain here in Spain, but only enough to get us wet. We spent our Spain time primarily in Seville. Even though Spain’s Alhambra is in the competition for the new Seven Wonders of the World (Thanks for the list, Zoya), we didn’t get all the way to Granada to see it.

Seville called to us for 2 reasons. I know what you’re thinking – flamenco dancing and bull fighting. But no, we didn’t see any dancing flamencos or any fighting bulls. We wanted to visit Seville 1) because Seville and Kansas City are sister cities and 2) because we wanted to see the Alcazar (a UNESCO world heritage site.) My parents’ wedding reception was held in Cleveland at the Alcazar Hotel and it was high time we saw the original.

009 Alcazar Hotel steps

As you can imagine, the Alcazar in Cleveland and the Alcazar in Seville are slightly different. The Alcazar Hotel was originally built as a hotel with a Spanish-Moorish motif in the 1920's. The Alcazar was originally built as a fort in the 900’s. Over the 11 centuries since then, it has been expanded and rebuilt many times. As we wander from courtyard to courtyard and from garden to garden, it’s one wow after another.

5451f Alcazar garden

Of all the fabulous sights to behold, wouldn’t you know that Kelly focused in on a map? It’s a huge tapestry of the Mediterranean where north is down, from the Spanish perspective a few hundred years ago.

5458f Map tapestry

Our timing was right to see a temporary Alcazar exhibit we deemed a highlight: Descubriendo a los descubridores, la vuelta al mundo de la Nao Victoria. The first circumnavigation of the world in 1522 proved the spherical shape of the earth. In 2004, 20 young sailors recreated that voyage in a replica of the original wooden vessel. Realizing the substantial differences between their voyage and ours, there are also many similarities. One voyager said the land looks better from the sea than from the land. Another says that he now has a before and an after. A third emphasizes the importance of sailing with 3 guides: course, altitude, and imagination. We spent a long time listening to the wisdom of these modern circumnavigators.

When you leave the Alcazar and walk across the street you’re standing in front of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral. So we entered, enjoyed a mini-concert from what must be one of the world’s largest pipe organs, then climbed over 300’ to the top of the cathedral bell tower for a panoramic view of Seville.

5502f Giralda Tower view of Cathedral

From the tower, we could see the train station in the distance. The street leading to the train station is Avenida de Kansas City, the only evidence we saw of the sister-city relationship. We found comfort in this tie to our Midwestern roots.

5542f Kansas City Avenue

Yours in finding ties to la familiar,

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