Monday, 22 August 2016

One crazy week: Seville and Madrid

Seville: 16th - 22nd August 2016

Burning up in Southern Spain:

There are only so many different ways I can describe how hot a Spanish summer is and yet Seville was still hotter than that. If you visit a place where even the locals struggle with the heat then you stand no chance. What are you meant to do when it's 40degrees at 4 in the afternoon? Well, hide I guess, which is pretty much what we did.

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Beautiful streets of Seville
Fortunately our tiny little room in our new Bnb had along with its tiny desk and tiny old rickety wooden bunkbed a tiny little balcony just big enough for 2 child sized stools. Shaded from the sun by the blocks of flats on either side it made a perfect place to sit in the mornings and eat our breakfast, which for most of the week consisted of Lidl's pastries. The balcony also helped cool the room down from unbearably hot to just incredible hot but on the plus side at least there were no fake satin sheets on this bed.
Our friendly and chatty hosts, Fatima and her mum  were also hosting Pat a Bostonian who had just moved to Seville with a marketing job. Although he was learning his Spanish by this point was not hugely better than mine and our hosts spoke no English either so fair play to the guy for sticking it out. For us it was quite a nice break as it gave us someone else to talk to. Sarah could communicate well with everyone we came across whereas I could only understand some basic Spanish and ask some rudimentary questions, beyond this I hadn't had a conversation with anyone but Sarah since first arriving in Spain a month before hand and so talking with a native English speaker was very refreshing.

With two people on one budget double rooms are almost always cheaper than the cost of 2 beds in a dormitory. The result is that we almost always stay at hotels and guesthouses over hostels which is nicer as it gives us privacy but you never really end up meeting anyone.Unlike in previous cities on our trip so far this time round we didn't visit museums and such attractions but spent most of our time walking the streets of the beautiful old town with its winding roads, large stone buildings, expansive parks while dodging the bikes, trams and horse drawn carriages. The discovery of an unexpected and poorly advertised Hard Rock Cafe (#2 of the trip) gave us the perfect excuse to have a Sundae.

No automatic alt text available.As far as I'm aware Seville is known for 2 things: oranges and flamenco. Sadly we were there the wrong time of year to see any actual oranges in bloom on the numerous oranges trees which lined most streets but thankfully flamenco isn't so seasonal. Thanks to excellent detective work by Sarah we found a cosy little venue - half bar half builders yard - which had a free nightly flamenco performance. From what we could find this was the only free show in the city as every other bar which had a flamenco dances in the evening required tickets for entry. The result was a very fun (and cheap) evening watching Flamenco and drinking beers and wine which ended with what Sarah believes to be the best Kebab she's ever eaten and I'm not sure I disagree with her either.

Sarah's added: The most important part of our trip to Seville was when I came across the biggest cockroach I've ever seen. It was the same colour as my bag so I managed to nearly touch it, scream, run out the room and nearly lock Bob in with it. We then spent the afternoon with our host shouting a lot of 'cucarachaaaaa', spraying a lot of bug killer and smacking it with shoes. It's OK - we survived to tell the tale. 

Bad news and sad news:
During this week we found out after over a month of waiting that our landlady from our Cardiff flat wanted to take 715 pounds from our 725pounds deposit. This news followed the estate agent's review of our flat which found nothing wrong and only 2 incidences where the extra cleaning might be needed. Having quit our jobs either of us an income so this quantity of money was hugely important to us, needless to say it made our hearts sink and infuriated us beyond belief, especially considering the effort that had gone into cleaning the place before we left (thank you again Malcolm and Sharon for helping us out there). This email started a process which didn't get resolved until November after 100 of emails, facebook messages and phone calls. Thankfully in the end *spoiler* we got it all back.

The following day I received far worse news from mum and dad. Sadly my Opa Hans had passed away which came as quite a shock. Wishing not to dwell on this, we cut short our trip to Seville and headed to Madrid to catch a flight to Germany for the funeral.

We ended our week in Seville with a few beers with Pat in TGI Fridays. It's disappointing how easily I get hangovers these days...Before our flight to Germany we had given ourselves one full day to explore Madrid and so that's what we did. At very high speed.

Madrid - 22nd - 24th August

After a long bus journey from Seville to Madrid with a hangover from hell we spent the afternoon around our Bnb chilling and planning the next day:

Madrid in a day: All things considered I think we did pretty well. Madrid is big and I'm fairly sure we managed a decent chunk of it. Gardens, palaces, ramblas, squares, a viewpoint/tower and of course a Sundae in Hard Rock (#3 of the trip). We even treated ourselves to a metro pass for the day so we didn't have to travel everywhere on foot; absolute luxury. In the evening we headed back to the royal palace where we had started the day since we had found out that for an hour or so before the palace closed entry was totally free instead of costing the normal 11Euros per person. We thought it was a good idea but apparently so did everyone one else visiting and living in Madrid. The queue for Palace stretched out of the box office, across the plaza then over and around the step of the cathedral opposite, but living up to our cultural stereotype we stood in line and stoically queued despite the heat and our tiredness until we were let in. For a free tour the queue was definitely worth it. Decadent and ostentatious are the two words that came to mind when walking around the palace, with every consecutive room the chandeliers seemed to grow larger and the clocks more numerous.

After a while our empty stomachs, dry mouths and London feet begged for us to quit the palace and head home. Madrid is a big beautiful city, so different from Pamplona where we'd started our travels seemingly so long before, but now it was time to move on, Time for Germany.

Until then,

If you ever needed proof of the heat

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