Thursday, January 23, 2014

Settling into life in Sevilla and loving it!

Things just keep happening, guess to keep us from being bored. Had to use the bathroom late at night, turned on the light and the light bulb blew out of it’s socket, didn’t shatter luckily. No electricity in the flat though! Funny, our host is an Electrical Engineer. So in the morning I’m using my computer as a flashlight and can send email to Pepe, is there a breaker in the flat? No Coffee! Disaster! He replied it’s behind a picture, so unplugged the computers in case of a surge and flipped the switch. Power! And Coffee, double, Yeah!

Another nice day today, went to a large department store for a few more supplies. Just dragged out my lighter coat and will be glad I’ve carted it over England and through Paris.

Pepe comes over changes out light bulbs, brings more linen and then offers a tour of the neighbourhood. He also set us up with a cleaner for the flat expecting she’ll do about an hour a week. We did a large circle and ended back across the street from where we had been. Wonderful mosque turned into a church and painted a lovey red, more on this when we’ve re-visited and taken pictures. Pepe used to play in the courtyard there. He pointed out many useful places to shop.

Had some great tapas and a beer and talked about life in general and business in Sevilla. Won’t go into it, but we may be able to help Pepe and a friend set up a business here. Pepe also offered a tour of his father’s finca (farm) that produces olives and grapes, can’t wait to see that! So for an inconvenient start to the day it turned out just grand.

We are availing ourselves of Spain’s best food products (in our opinion) oranges, not from the city trees but in the markets. They are the best we’ve ever eaten I think. The olives which are also the tastiest we’ve ever eaten and Bruce of the jamon, ham that is hung from most bars for years and shaved when being prepared to eat. Food here is wonderful, different from Cornwall, of course, since I said the food there was great as well, just different specialties.  Wine is also wonderful, okay over used the word wonderful, from the Rioja grape for either white or red. Beer is crisp and clean tasting and many women drink it, I’ve seen in the tapas bars, more so than in Canada I think. It comes mostly in half pints so it stays cold, called Cruz Campo which means cross country.

Orange tree and lovely building

Bruce’s Spanish is coming back in droves and I’m starting to quit saying thank you in German and French so still hoping what I had learned in previous trips to Spain will return. We arrived Sunday so guess I shouldn’t expect a very rapid conversion in only a few days.

Up close, Mmmm, marmalade!

Still recovering somewhat and laundry to do yet, but getting there. Pepe’s tour helped us orient some more and I now have a website to go to for local bus information.

We are loving being here, it is warm and sunny, perfect since Bruce can’t take the heat that is summer here, even the locals vacate. Sevilla needs to market itself as a tourist destination in the winter. It’s mid-January for heaven sakes and to be comfortable sitting outside is just great!

More shopping and stopped for a tapa. Tapas work out very well for our meager appetites.  They are tasty, small, large variety and usually about 2.30 Euro, read cheap. If you are not full after the first you simply order another. Groups order many for everyone to try different dishes. Kind of the same idea as Dim Sum, don’t know which came first.

Emailed a friend of Pepe who teaches English here, really more to use his services as a guide rather than a Spanish teacher although I’m sure we’ll learn some as well. We have a meeting set with him for the end of this week once we finish settling in.

About settling in. It usually takes about a work week, we’ve found by the time we shop multiple times for things like condiments, paper supplies, breakfast for me, etc. Do the build-up of laundry in small machines with no driers so it’s a daily chore for two to three days using a drying rack. I went to the top of the building and there are many clothes lines strung out across so in decent weather it would be easy to do towels and sheets. No complaints, at least we have a washer, usually located in the kitchen which I thought a bit odd at first encounter in England but probably a plumbing convenience.

Found a lovely viewpoint at the top of the large department store El Corte Ingles on their outside patio. Great lookout to the major cathedral, the Metropol Parasol, a completely wooden structure built to shade part of the city. See here:

Last time we stayed in Sevilla we were very close to the Cathedral in a hotel. Liking the neighbourhood we are in, more friendly. Still getting used to store opening hours, they seem to all be different and there are no postings on the outside so it’s best guess. The smaller ones in this neighbourhood close for “siesta” but seems to depend on what type of store to what hours. Haven’t got it figured yet but we will, another bit of learning.

More shopping, about done now and found a new neighbourhood with a plethora of restaurants and a professional looking place to get a pedicure. Finally bought an English/Spanish-Spanish/English word guide. Nice sunny warm day, eat your heart out Canadians!

We are appreciating the different styles of architecture in the streets and we haven’t even been to the true downtown yet.  Most balconies are enclosed with wrought iron delicately laced in many different styles and beautiful, each in it’s own way. Many of the entry doors are very tall and wide, we think to admit a horse and carriage into the courtyard. If a courtyard door is open you are welcome to take a look and there are many beautiful and statuesque courtyards in this neighbourhood! (If the owner comes out, you just say “Bonito patio!” and all is well.)  The “new” use for a courtyard is to make it pretty, as a welcome to my home, many have fountains and there are usually many plants. The entryway is usually arched and many have elaborate wrought iron gates in the arch to keep the curious like us out, allowed to look but not enter, fair enough. Tile work is exquisite here, as I suppose one expects. 

This is the tile work in our bathroom above the bidet (if you don’t know what a bidet is, look it up! I’m not going there). Tile is, like the iron work, each installation has it’s own design and colour although blue and white are used frequently. All my comments above about the architecture are another reason to live in Europe, so different from Canada, not better, just different.

I had a minced cod in tomato sauce as a tapa. The cod here is preserved by salting it severely and when ready for use it goes into baths of "seven waters" and/or a milk bath to take the salt off.  Although land locked, Sevilla is rich with seafood, several stores sell it and all kinds including fresh octopus and many, frankly, ugly looking fish I’ve never seen before. The sea is about an hour’s drive from here so seafood is fresh when it arrives.

We bought gazpacho in a “milk” container, recommended to us by Pepe as being made very fresh. Gazpacho is a soup served cold made of tomato and vegetables, in case you aren’t familiar with it. There are many recipes which vary due region and country and is served as a blended soup or the vegetables are left diced. So every time you have it you get a different soup! Never served hot though. Bruce has made it but when he blended it, it turned out a yucky brown colour so we leave it unblended, don’t know the trick for a nice colour. It’s very refreshing in warm weather.

We're off to do a more detailed look at that church I mentioned. Bye for now...


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