I didn’t expect there to be quite so much of Seville. Queues kept us away from the Cathedral and from the Alcázar fortress (so we shall ignore them), but hurrah for the trees of Seville! Seeds of these liana trees were brought back by scientific sons of conquistadors. Once a source of rubber—see the tell-tale white streaks—its roots are redoubtable:
Here novelist Concha and I try to fit inside one:
Some palm trees seem excessively tall, outgrowing their strength:
but other, shorter palms are under attack by evil red palm weevils, which the green bottles strive to poison before the head of the tree falls off:
A fallen frond makes a good hat accessory:
The vast María Luisa Park is full of gorgeous vegetation, bowers, tilework, reflections, fountains:
..as well as numerous birdies. (By the way, don’t drink the water yourself.) Myself, I distinguish mentally between doves, which are white, and pigeons which aren’t, but both doves and pigeons suckle their babies with milk, which isn’t usual babycare for birds.
The enormous Plaza de España on the edge of the María Luisa park is actually just the Spanish national pavilion for the World’s fair of 1929 (plus a mighty plaza). An Ibero-American Exposition was planned for 1914 except that the World held a war instead, leaving another 15 years for Seville to prepare.
Other sumptuous buildings adorn the neighbourhood.
Due to such past investments, Seville dominates the tourist economy of Andalusia, accounting for hundreds of identical black and yellow open coaches with horses clip-clopping and ding-dinging briskly around the tourism routes, amounting in fact to quite a pesky nuisance and safety hazard. (To take refuge upon a coach, with 3 friends or family tucked under blankets, costs 50 Euros an hour.) Here is a typical traffic jam leaving the Plaza de España:
And here, in a fraying street ceramic, is a car such as would have tootled around the exposition back in its day:
Where are all the sprightly horses stabled? Definitely not in the Royal Tobacco Factory, with its aircraft-hanger-size drying rooms, now the lecture halls of the University. Sotweed sailed directly from the Americas up the Guadalquivir (mightier than further upstream at Córdoba) to what for a while was the only fag factory in Spain—built on the scale of the Hermitage in St Petersburg—where Carmen worked.
I don’t know if this moat was ever flooded, but its wall captured the silhouettes of me and Cristina and Concha:
Concha—Concepción Perea—is a fountain of information about tragic figures such as La Susona, who had her head hung—posthumously—outside her house in the Jewish quarter, from the 15th to the 18th century, to atone for stupidly trusting her Christian boyfriend:
…and about the medieval Wet Street water supplies:
An angel above the main entrance of the tobacco factory university was supposed to blow a fanfare if a chaste Carmen ever entered, or nowadays a student of genius:
Much earlier, when the Moors were in charge, Vikings took similar advantage of the Guadalquivir, considerably wider than at Córdoba:
Here’s the restaurant where we first met up with our chums in Seville, including novelist Juan Ramón Biedma on the left, in whose books rain constantly falls on his native town, novelist Nerea Riesco, and look there’s Cristina because Concha’s historical novelist spouse Teo Palacios is holding the camera:
Quite close to this restaurant, recuperating a formerly tatty large square, mushrooms the Metropol Parasol; “We want something like the Guggenheim at Bilbao but, er, cheaper…!” (Due to a few little technical problems caused by reality, the cost also mushroomed, to 100 million Euros.) We like it. It reminds me of a bygone UK TV series, Invasion: Earth, in which invaders from a higher dimension create intrusions into our 3-D world:
And so we prepare to leave Seville for our next destination, as depicted in the murals of the Plaza de España:
What will await us in Cádiz?