Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Triana Part 2 and Happy New Year! or Feliz año nuevo!

This is silver sculpture on a large cart that is hauled by oxen on a pilgrimage to El Rocio, close to Huelva to pray to the Virgin Mary.  This link is a much better description than what I can write.

Tile work showing the pilgrimage
The tile in Triana and Sevilla is extremely varied, depicts stories and advertises tile artisan shops which are known worldwide. Amazing place to look at and be part of. 

Waiting for Ivan to park the car and noticed this must be the most photographed tile work in Triana, I was not the only one!

One of many works depicting children doing various tasks.
We didn’t even get to the museum which is located where the large factory used to be and includes kilns and everything to do with production.

Ivan has a friend that produces tile in his own shop in the Alameda district who will also do classes – want to participate in that! I’ve done some potting on a wheel in the past and potting and ceramics fascinate me as an art. 

What the market looked like years ago, shadow is someone standing on the bridge behind, couldn't very well ask them to move!
Market of Triana – For those Vancouver friends, think Granville Island, colourful vegetable, fruit, meat, fish, local crafts, sweets, etc. Lots of places to nosh on tapas fresh made in front of your eyes!

You know us and markets, well this one is especially good in the variety and freshness and includes a cooking school which we'll be signing up for to learn how to cook Andalusia specialties.

Like the Chef's hat, but shouldn't it be white?

The two links above this picture explain in detail about it. This is Capilla del Carmen, a chapel at the Triana side of Puente de Isabel II, Bridge of Isabel II, patron saint. I won't go into the details, if interested read the links but it is beautiful!

Christmas Day. We made fresh squeezed orange juice and coffee. Gave each other cards and from Lexi too. Lexi asked for a puppy to play with, well she won’t be getting that, although we have considered it, practically, it's not going to happen. 

Walked to the Alameda and had a really good lunch under sunny, warm skies – again, why we are here in Winter, although England last year was nice too. All the smaller bodegas are closed but the Chinese stores are open, they don’t ever seem to close. Would guess this season is a good one for them, people fetching forgotten things for Christmas dinner. I received some nice Seasonal wishes from friends, Thank You! So a quiet day but a very good one. 

Sadly I had to dismantle the "Christmas" tree before New Years, it was time to do laundry.

Happy New Year to you! or Feliz año nuevo! Wishing you the Best for 2015. Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Funny Christmas Tree and Part One of Visit to Triana

We have always had a Christmas tree, even our host in England put one up for us last year. This year we didn’t have one (not really a Spanish tradition) and I found I missed it. So I got either creative or crazy – eyed our drying rack and it very loosely resembles, well, an "A" shape, very loosely tree shaped. Imagination is needed here folks!

There were fake flowers in a vase and clothes pins, hmmm. This is the result and could win a prize for the ugliest creation but I like it, Bruce likes it, okay maybe he’s being supportive?

Tourists are the only ones who drink Sangria here. Locals have red wine with soda, a lot less sweet, we would call it a spritzer. Now I’ve never understood why anyone would want to mix wine with soda, it’s usually too good on it’s own, the wine that is. But learning again, wine drunk in the summer heat can just make you snooze when there is too much to see and socialize over. Pepe had one and so we ordered one, very nice, refreshing and not as heavy as beer, new convert here.

Ivan picked us up for a tour of Triana we’ve been looking forward to. You can look up Triana on Google, done for you here:,_Seville

It’s located across the river from downtown and so culturally and due to it’s past, people who live there think of themselves as Trianeros first and Sevilla citizens second. Independent pretty much entirely from the rest of Sevilla and they want to stay that way. Former industries included fisheries and ceramic tile artisians. The whole neighbourhood is covered in colourful tile, around doors, above doors, along the bottom half of buildings (to keep the moisture from the river out), bottoms of balconies – in short – tile covers most everything! More on that next post due to many pictures.

Beautiful church spire next to the belene.

Nativity scenes are part of Christmas celebrations and they are not just the cradle scene.

They are called belens (accent over the second e, and means Bethlehem) and include the entire village atmosphere, including the one we saw that had live animals, in cages unfortunately, but practically.

Many children are brought to see them, probably the only chance to see bunny rabbits, turkeys, goats, sheep in the City. 

Speaker to the right does not fit in, but Christmas carols are coming from it.

We tried for a couple of church belens but so far have not been successful, most behind the altar I think and when in Churches I try to respect those there to worship. 

So realistic they include the wash tub and babe's clothes hung to dry!

Went to a Taberna (tapas bar) called Paco Espana and had two selections of superb cheese, one with paprika and the other with Rosemary. They are wrapped in these herbs for a long time and are so very flavourful!

View from Triana to Sevilla downtown.

Next post I'll talk about the Mercado, market of Triana and show some of the wonderful works in tile.

Cheers, Bx2 & Lajandra (Lexi)

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Back in Love with Sevilla!

There are several letters in English that are difficult in Spanish and vice-versa. The letter X is one. Lexi’s name is difficult for people here to pronounce. Her real name is Alexandra but seemed a bit large a name for a small cat so we shortened it. Alexandra in Spanish is Alejandra so her new Spanish name is Lajandra – h is replaced by the j so it sounds like Lahandra. Pepe Senior calls here the “No Meow Gata” because he was impressed she was so quite in the car and when we showed her to his wife and friend.

Not so many photos this blog so will intersperse with views from the flat.

Our view from the living room window, one with more detail coming up.

As per above, it was a Convent, maybe still is, this is the back of it and I haven't photographed the front yet.

Landlord Pepe came to the flat and we got the few questions we had answered. He took us to breakfast at his favorite establishment and it was good, eclectic in decoration which was fun to see, all authentic older Spanish utility items on the walls, sepia photographs of times gone past. He wanted to take us to a different market to shop than we usually go to but had a business appointment nearing time so we sent him along to it, not to make him late. He brought the bundle buggy with some oranges and lemons from Pepe Senior’s finca (farm) yum! We took advantage of the wheels again and stocked up some more, seems like we are always doing that.

These "pots" adorn most rooftops, ceramic as are the tiles. I could do a whole post on them, lovely!

Saturday and it’s raining we’re to meet Ali and Andy (US Expats who live in Freiburg but are in Sevilla now) for lunch in front of El Cortes Ingles, the department store in Plaza del Duque de la Victoria, just as a spot most buses go through. Passing Amarillo Albero we make a reservation. Waiting for them, thunder and the skies open up and pour, I mean seriously pour! Once meeting them, they are already soaked having stood near a puddle when a car went by and drenched them. Water is building up on the streets into rivers you cannot get around and have to walk through. Shoes soaked, bottom of pants soaked, head streaming with water down my neck. Thank goodness for my purchase of waterproof mascara a day or so ago, racoon eyes are not so attractive on anything but a racoon, Ugh.

Last time in memory we have encountered this complete downpour was Monpelier, France. We ducked into a doorway which happened to be a dance school. Young men came out in their skivies and danced in the rain. It seemed to let up so we headed back to our hotel but before reaching it through the streets which were now rivers I walked completely through my sandal making it difficult to walk the rest of the way, did of course.

I usually say, a little rain never hurts, after all, we’re from the “wet” Coast aka West Coast but in both situations this was like someone turned a faucet on.

Nice lunch though with good, sometimes a bit bizzare conversation between Bruce and Andy, both highly imaginative types. Wind whipped umbrellas across the street and the awning in front of the bodega just about off. Still pouring buckets when we’ve finished and had delayed some hoping for it to clear a bit but didn’t so we hailed a cab to go the four blocks to the apartment. Hung up all wet clothing and are NOT going out again tonight. I expect many floods because it has been dry, leaves are down constricting the drains and glad we’re on the first (Canadian second) floor of the building. Aside from the weather a very nice visit with the two and was very good to see them!

Bruce accidentily brought the garage door clicker/opener from Freiburg to Sevilla and there is only one which our partners will need while there. Partners have threatened to dump him upside down to empty his pockets before leaving next time. Sevilla has only one main post office which used to be down the street from the flat but moved close to the Cathedral last year. It’s a fair hike from the flat now so we cabbed to it, bought postage for the padded envelope we are sending it in and posted. Didn’t take long, they have a “take a number” system depending on four areas of services they provide that works well, no line ups, especially at this time of year.

Same view as "one pot" but two and showing a roof garden, of which there are many in Sevilla

Walked along the Cathedral and into the pedestrian area of many shops and eventually back to the flat. Day was warm and very pleasant. It was nice to be back in the touristy area for a little bit but wouldn’t want to stay there for an extended period of time. It’s expensive, cerveza, beer costs 1.50 Euro per glass in our neighbourhood and it was double that at the café we stopped at. Found a specialty shop for food off the main shopping street that has every type of Andalusian ham imaginable along with many other great finds from the region. They were busy putting together gift packs to mail for Christmas.

Christmas decorations abound, lights across the top of the streets, stores, trees of pointsettias, pretty. Oh, sorry to be a Scrooge but I don’t enjoy canned or taped Christmas carols much and they’re everywhere here too and in English mostly, same as what we hear in Department stores in Canada.

Children with helium balloons festooned the streets this day. Really not sure what that was about. Last day of school until January 7th and the teachers take the kids to a park, balloons are supplied by banks.

Real detail above the door across the street, I think it's beautifully done and a pleasure to look at.

Found a couple of new, to me, Spanish blogs and apparently many expats living in Spain use Facebook to connect so while I don’t use it much perhaps that’s a way to get better connected with what goes on. I suppose it’s that way for most groups and it’s primary use I haven’t taken advantage of to date. Doh, me the reluctant social media person.

Here's another . Ivan wonders why I read expat blogs, perhaps because they point out the differences for a non-Spanish speaking person living here. Perhaps, also, they are not the most accurate rendition of real Sevilla life, shaded by their English background. However, all information is good and I can usually filter what isn't quite correct or real.

Our day out with Ivan was supposed to include the following: go to a wheels rental place and look for wheels for Bruce, see the Triana Market and the Ceramic Museum, then lunch with viewings of the nativity scenes. Didn’t quite turn out that way.

Bruce woke with a throbbing toothache so we changed plans, as you know we sometimes do. Went to the wheels store and found what we think will work very well for him but rented for a week to make sure with option for rental or purchase the rest of the time we are here. It’s gently used so to buy would be half price, a good deal if Bruce likes it.

Then on to lunch at Sol y Sombra meaning two things: “sun and shade” or the drink, equal parts of anise and brandy. Andelusia delight with authentic pub and saloon decorated completely on the walls with programs from bull fights going back years. Christmas lunches are in full swing so there were large groups in to enjoy the food. We had a salad of prawn, cooked peppers, onion, olive oil and lemon, just wonderful. Then Solomillo (pork) la Whiskey with roasted garlic cloves also wonderful! They apparently do a great oxtail stew there but we were full, Bruce couldn’t eat due to the tooth so Ivan and I enjoyed.

Most excellent lunch, most excellent company!
Ivan said Sevilla is known for aircraft engineering and a company is currently building one here for the US Military. They employ many people, which is good business for Sevilla.

In Triana, the District we were in where ceramic tile was manufactured and fishermen plied their trade, Tempura was used to fry the fish. Japanese fishermen came to Triana and took the receipe home with them, along with previously mentioned, the painted fans used by the geisha, items I had thought started in Japan.

Bruce needs antibiotics sooner than later, can feel infection settling in, so after calling around Ivan made us an appointment, not happily, at an emergency clinic to get Bruce some antibiotics, but then he called his Dentist and got an appointment for even sooner and with a professional he trusts. He drove us about fifteen minutes out of town with a very competent staff of Dentist and associates. We were both happy to go directly to the Dentist so we can book further appointments to get Bruce fixed up fully. An accomplished day, not an especially fun one, but lunch was a welcome oasis of pleasing tastes.

When we viewed this suite last year there was a wonderful aroma of food in the hallway, came back yesterday to smell the same, wish I could can it and send it along with this blog, mouthwatering! And we want to get some! But knocking on doors to find out where it’s coming from and begging for a taste would be just rude, too bad really.

Detail of eaves over the door across the street, like the lichen on the tile.
Here, again, lucky on many levels, we travel slow so with the time we can get these things taken care of without too much grief or stress. We have Ivan who is not only our guide for fun trips but helps us with interpretation, phone calls and local research for unusual items i.e. Bruce’s wheels and the right Dentist. Thankful!

By now you are probably wondering how many sets of wheels Bruce has? Why didn't we do our research, well we did but until road, rail, cobblestone tested it's difficult, I'll leave it at that.

Bruce took his wheels and tested them going to the Alameda Plaza. We turtled in the lovely sunshine for a while a bodega called Badulaque which has good food and, as with most places, good orange juice. Anyone that serves canned orange juice here should have their license revoked! It’s just not right!

Never before have we seen so many Whippet breed of dogs! There was an organization set up in the plaza dedicated to them and it seemed every time we turned around there was another. Honestly not my favourite breed but they are used for racing in North America and if you’ve ever seen one run they are amazingly fast.

We could hear drums, when investigated it was a large group, probably twenty or so drums beating in time to a leader. Had me and many others dancing to the beat! Then on to Amarillo, busy as usual for a Sunday but the difference was a puppy held by her human parents who defined cuteness! So lovely we could hardly keep our eyes off her. Think she was a bulldog but so young it was hard to tell. Everyone in the bodega was oohing and aahing and petting her. 

Here is a video a friend sent me, turn on the sound, it's a marvel of technique and fun! Forwarded from Canada but made in Germany, Edeka is a large grocers all over Germany, we shop at a couple but not like this!

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas or Feliz Navidad!

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat who won't be wearing a Santa hat, she'd eat it or chase it!