Thursday, January 30, 2014

More Exploring Sevilla

We walked to see the Metropol Parasol and what a sight it is! See a URL for it a couple of posts previous. I liked it, although some locals don’t, they call it the mushrooms. It is entirely built with wood and is a feat of engineering and utterly amazing up close.

Bruce calls it architectural art (as opposed to artistic architecture, as in the churches) and he's right, we haven't seen very much of it that is modern. Anyway we were both very impressed! 
Street level

Second level, or in Europe, first level

In Europe, the ground floor is usually level zero and the next floor up is one. Used to it now but confused the heck out of me at first.

Then we walked into a pedestrian zone and saw many wedding shops and flamenco dress shops with all the accessories. Accessories included combs, mantillas, fans, etc. The flounced bottoms of the dresses billow out from the racks in many colours and create a rainbow effect, beautiful! The wedding shops had ring bearer outfits, small suits, elaborately decorated, like a Bolivian general. Some poor young fellow would feel a might silly I would think, but then again, maybe it's an honour.

Bruce has been having vision problems with his glasses and we walked by an optometrist so I peeked in, saw some serious looking machinery and asked if the fellow spoke English which is necessary for getting an eye test. He did “a little” , they say that in Germany as well. Bruce went, got tested, ordered new lenses. We both took careful note of where the shop is located to find it again next week and get his lenses. While he was in, I saw this snail on the side of the building. No idea why it’s perched there but I liked it anyway.

Explored a bit more of the area, being a Tuesday it wasn’t very busy. There is a food product here called Churros. It is deep fried dough covered with sugar and or chocolate – chocolate is usually advertised with them. Sort of like a Spanish doughnut I imagine. Haven’t tried because I don’t have a sweet tooth but there are a lot of shops selling them, one on every street corner just about.

Another thing there are a lot of are churches as mentioned before, but truly, they come in every shape and architecture style, sometimes mixed styles. They’ve been added to over the years with different cultures in them. Some of the domes are covered in coloured tile and are beautiful. I want to take pictures of them all but that would bore you, and me.

I had a pedicure done, different, of course, again but well done. I also found the nearest Post Office. It was a bit strange the house numbers were not sequential I think due to a very old building in the middle, figured it out and did the mailing. They have an incoming number system, which no one seemed to use, but it would come in handy in the German Post offices which tend to be really busy much of the time.

There are many small dogs here and many are Yorkshire Terriers with bows in their hair and doggy coats on. They are cute! Personally I don’t care for the bows, I don’t believe in dressing up an animal, but that’s just me, but they are practical, keeps the dog's hair out of it's eyes. The coats are probably needed for cooler days, they live in Spain, after all, where it gets really hot in the summer, but cooler now.

A domestic thing, we couldn’t find an ice cube tray. Here they seem to buy bags of ice which is fine but it gets glommed together after a while. We ended up buying small plastic cups, like they serve liquid tastings in in Canada without the stems and keep them filled with water to freeze. That has worked out very well. We have a multi-product store down the street, as mentioned, like a dollar store and finally found a “real” ice cube tray in it, even with a lid so you don’t spill going from sink to freezer, never seen before and so practical! Here I am in a beautiful city and country and talking about such a domestic thing as an ice cube tray. But that is part of living in a long term flat versus living in a hotel.  We prefer it. Did you skip this paragraph? Oops, too late!

Tomorrow we're on a road trip to Ayamonte and Isla Cristina, both are coastal towns.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Response from Novotel, Paris and my post on Tripadvisor

So this is what I posted on Tripadvisor, as asked to do and did gladly. See the Manager's response below. He was the one who offered to take us to the airport by his own car and kept a steady bead on the situation. He even asked me to open my suitcase and go through it thoroughly because he has two cats and they like to hide in his. As I thought, this one is "for the books" at that hotel!

“Good outcome from a bad situation”
5 of 5 starsReviewed 1 week ago
We travel with a curious cat. Just about to leave the hotel for a flight and she finds a hole under the bathroom sink and goes down, found out later there should have been a cover over it. Turns out it went into the plumbing of the room and she can't be seen or heard. Took four staff members two hours to take apart the bathroom and put a cell phone down a hole they made in the shower to take a picture and find her, thank you Angelica for smart thinking, you truly are an angel! Send us the photos if you would please. Relief she's found but she is stressed so stays there for nine hours before deciding to come back out. Staff were so very concerned, sounds like most are cat people so they understood. They comped us another room and breakfast, tried to change our flight to the next day and were beyond helpful! Would recommend this hotel for the staff, the room was very nice as well except for the missing cover to the hole.
Room Tip: Windows are sound proofed, unless you open them, no exterior noise, when you do lots of traffic but...
See more room tips
  • Stayed January 2014, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 starsValue
    • 4 of 5 starsLocation
    • 4 of 5 starsSleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 starsRooms
    • 4 of 5 starsCleanliness
    • 5 of 5 starsService
Was this review helpful?Yes1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
NOR1628, Directeur général at Novotel Paris Orly Rungis, responded to this review, 1 week ago
Dear clients,

I am glad that you could finally take your plane for your holidays with your cat.
I think we will talk about that story with happy ending for a long time.

Hoping to being able to welcome you again for a next stay with Lexie.

Best Regards.

Richard LAINE
General Manager

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

One of many, many churches

Walked to Plaza San Lorenzo where that church is I mentioned in a previous post. It’s Basilica de Nuestro Senora del Pilar. I went inside and it’s absolutely gorgeous! Gold covered altar, a dome on top of the apse to let light in and many people worshipping so no pictures taken of the inside, just the outside. Note the key-hole shaped window at right: it used to be a mosque.

Church arch over very tall door

Beautiful mosaic, most churches here have them
The mosaics I've seen on many church walls are beautifully done but I don't know whom they depict, perhaps a patron saint or the current or past head of the church.

Looked for a booklet or pamphlet in their gift shop for further explanation but didn’t find anything that would suffice. So I Googled it and it has had a long and troubled past including torture and incarceration which I won’t go into here. We spent the afternoon at a cafe soaking up the sunshine and eating a couple of tapas. Wonderful! Seems we are doing that a lot while the weather is warm and it’s very nice to be outside.

Bell tower, and have to say I really like this picture

Took the “hop-on-hop-off” bus around the City. We do this in many cities, even though it is very touristy, it gives an overall guide to what is there and perhaps to re-visit on our own. Sunny day, slight cool breeze so it was a good day to sit on the upper deck of a bus and get toured around with commentary in our ears. Commentary comes in a multitude of languages through a tape you plug the earphones into. A system used in most of the cities we've been to. The commentary is standard, name of an interesting building, when built, Architect, some history, same with neighbourhoods and why they exist as such.

View from the bus, can't see it but the river (Rio) Guadalquivir is between us and the buildings

Single horse drawn carriages are used to convey tourists around Sevilla as a more old fashioned way of going, been there, done that on our last trip. The driver does a commentary in Spanish and with the distance between the driver and carriage you can’t hear it or with us, understand it. The carriages are open so you get a real street view of the neighbourhoods. 

Large, old fica or ficus tree in front of the next photo of a church
Church in the Triana District of Sevilla

Flamenco is a very large part of entertainment here as well, you probably know. On our previous trip we booked into a club which, I found out later, was rated the best in Sevilla. Sitting right next to the stage and the women’s skirts were brushing my cheek! Certainly didn’t put my hand or elbow on the stage it would have been stomped on… Absolutely an experience to remember so, not to water it down, we have decided to skip Flamenco this trip. Sometimes you just cannot better an experience by repeating it.

The previously mentioned gazpacho soup is wonderful, I put it in a cup and drank it, found out later many people do unless you are being served in a restaurant. 

Lexi had a long overdue four paw pedicure one morning. She really hates that! I have to hold her and cover her eyes so she can’t see the clippers coming at her. She yowls and cries like we’re trying to kill her or something. Bruce is good and practiced and never hurts her so it’s a bit of an act I think.

Saturday and the streets are buzzing with shoppers. I noticed many women “of an age” with rather elaborate hairdos. They were for the most part, teased, sculpted and likely sprayed. I remember one of my grandmothers used to get a “wash and set” and I suppose that’s what these women have done at a salon. To my knowledge that doesn’t happen in Canada anymore but certainly it does here. Nice, really, they get to feel “dolled up” for shopping on Saturday, church on Sunday and it’s always a treat when someone else washes your hair.

Also noticed elderly women and sometimes men with a younger companion or helper. Many times the helper bears a family resemblance and most of them are women. As mentioned before family is important here so they take care of each other, much the same as everywhere, but more obvious here I think.

We were at our “local” bodega Amarillo Albero where the waiter almost, knows our name, and were watching the cars go by. As said, narrow streets here too and I would guess about 80% had scrapes down the right hand side. Now, sitting on the other side of the road and watching cars go by, not so much, they seem to leave room on the drivers side but miscalculate on the passengers. Just another observation, a good car body repair person could make a mint here if people were interested in getting the dings fixed.

Took the “hop-on-off-bus” again, since it’s a 24 hour ticket. We saw many different things than we did yesterday, in part because there was a marathon running through the Expo site. Chillier day and of course I wore my lighter coat so we were a quite cold at the end.

We saw the bull ring for the second time and it is enormous. Didn’t get a picture but beautiful building so Google “bullring Seville” under images and you will see. What those photos do not capture is the size! It has a museum inside of all things related to bull fighting which we haven’t seen either. Bull fighting is not something we want to see but acknowledge it’s importance and sport here in Spain. Unlike Flamenco, also important, but we did see and enjoy. Everyone to their own…

After, being chilled, we decided to check out a Chinese restaurant for some nice warm soup and green tea.  All I can say about the place is that it served the function of warming us up. Most tasteless food I think I’ve ever had, even soy sauce didn’t help. It certainly isn’t because we were ordering a foreign food in the city. We’ve had very tasty Oriental food in many European cities, including Spain, just the wrong restaurant. Won’t be back. I think we’ve been extremely lucky in our choices of where to eat and have not encountered anything truly bad for a very long time so I’m glad about that.

Our English/Spanish guide Ivan has come back to us with the promised itinerary. We will be having much to report back on in the next month we are here.