Saturday, February 22, 2014

Neighbourhoods and Walking tour of Santa Cruz Barrio

Walking more neighbourhoods, and this city has many, we found the street showcasing women’s dress designers, along with wedding gowns, but gowns were different from before, these were originals. Jewelled, some with Flamenco influence, some short, sexy dresses. They were in a variety of stunning colours and if beads were added, just shimmered. Works of art really!

Walked to Alameda da Hercules as mentioned before but today it is a sunny Sunday and everyone is out, all ages enjoying the sun. Cafes are crowded and we were lucky to be a bit early and scored a seat for a while. Wonderful tapas and a beer each. Don’t know who are cuter the kids or the dogs. All types of dogs but can’t describe properly how individual and wonderful they were.

The architecture is so varied here, we were walking the street we do daily, and I found another cupola I hadn’t noticed before. Now walking this path is fraught with difficulty,  (for us, not locals) lanes are narrow, sidewalks as well, some wider than others. If a truck comes by you just find the nearest doorway with an instep, because they sometimes have to drive on the sidewalks to get through. Everyone is careful and people are polite, so it works, just feels awkward to us  because we are walking along a rather major one way street. All part of living and learning in a different place and surprisingly we’ve adapted quite well.  Ivan said you can tell the age of the street by how narrow or wide it is and we've seen that. The street we live on is wider and better sidewalks than the street we walk down to go shopping, with many broken cobblestones.

The Net is  down again. Lately we have been having daily trouble with it.

We’ve had a couple of sunny warm days and I have to pinch myself it’s mid-February.  I’m thinking we might  be about a week late to experience the orange blossoms, but I’ll keep hoping until we leave.

I was asked if I spoke French today, hah! But that is the dilemma when in Europe. A person can tell you don’t speak the local language, then they have to ask what language you speak. With visitors from all over Europe, who’s to know? One waitress in Cadiz made it easy by saying hello in about five languages. 

Something I don't think I've mentioned, many restaurants have menus in different languages, in the tourist areas. In Cadiz it was Spanish, English and German. Depending where you are and proximity to neighbouring countries will depend on languages offered. We try to read from the original language menu and sometimes that produces surprises in what is received! Alternatively, we'll look at an English menu and compare the words in Spanish or German. Then there is the mangled spelling, we've encountered this many times. Well, at least they made an effort, but why, oh why, can't they have it checked before spending the money to have them printed? I often want to go to management and offer my services to correct but it would probably offend them.

On a Saturday and suddenly I see many very dressed up people, I mean seriously dressed complete with high heels, hats, very colourful, pretty dresses, men in fancy suits. It’s a parade! No, a wedding ceremony had just finished and people were walking back to their cars.  I’ve seen these hats at the shopping places, and wondered about them and when they would be worn. They are large flowers or bows with netting on a hair band, or full hats, or, anyway, nothing like I’ve seen available in Canada. Anyway it was a parade of women dressed “to the nines” and men as well, just not as colourful. Lovely to get the chance to see! Bruce’s comment was there were many women in high heels walking down cobblestones that weren’t all that good at it and there would be some twisted ankles tonight. Okay… I’m not quite as cynical, maybe one or two…

In Canada we dress up for weddings of course but not to this degree. I think the hats are what makes it different. I haven’t seen a fancy hat on a woman in Canada for a very long time, if ever, mostly we wear toques if we wear hats at all, practical and necessary! Okay, enough about hats… not quite, they were impressive.

Walking tour of the Santa Cruz Neighbourhood/Barrio

What to say about this wonderful barrio! To preface, I will not do justice to the information  Ivan imparted to us, so much more than  I can remember or tell.

Elaborate cross on top of a cage, next picture ...

Locking cage where people were put to atone for their sins - ugh!
The barrio is filled with natural light that infuses you with good feelings. Ivan took us on a tour pointing out the churches, temples and palaces. Explaining the street  (Calle) names: water where fresh water was brought in and waste water out; life which you need water to survive; and pepper, it  is said that Calle Picante was named after a fellow who when  he was sad and cried, his tears fell to the floor and pepper plants sprang up. Many stories like that gave us a true history of the place. But sometimes there are many legends for the same story so it is diffucult to know what is actually true. Makes for wonderful telling anyway.

It’s the former Jewish neighbourhood so Moorish architecture dominates. Although Ivan said they are different and one specific area should be called the Jewish part, another the Moors due to inhabitants time frames. Streets are narrow, and we thought they were in the neighbourhood we are currently in! Hah, not so much. Saw a smallish car go through with about an inch on either side of it’s mirrors to fit.

Wide selection of tea, smelled divine!

When the Catholic King came into power he gave the Jews three choices: Convert to Catholicsism; leave without your belongings; or be shot without benefit of a trial. Tough ruling.

The light, the light, the light, just shines off the buildings, it was midday and warm but not hot. It’s an area which has been home to many painters inspired to do their work in and photography in later years. 

Another courtyard, look at the gate and the tile behind. 

Ivan said, stop here and get your camera out. A fantastic view of the cathedral and it was worth taking the picture. The statue on top has a story also. No one has determined whether it is a depiction of a man or a woman. It apparently has breasts but doesn’t seem female. Hmm don’t know what else to say on that. 


We stopped to have an orange infused wine at a local’s place, they make it right there and it was nirvana, sweet and orange flavour came right through. Peanuts in their shell were served with and a perfect addition. It’s a family owned restaurant, passed down through generations called Taberna La Fresquita. This is why we hired Ivan, he knows the special places to go to get the neighbourhood good things, true tidbits that you do not get as a regular tourist.

Stopped in at a beautiful Spa called Aire. It’s a renewed luxury Arab spa, not much changed from the original. He now has many including i.e New York, Barcelona, and Almeria. Ivan said he buys his Mom a gift certificate to go there and she enjoys it. To read more go to a it's in Spanish, but you'll get a picture of the space.

Walked some more past many tapas restaurants, palaces mostly closed to the public and just gazed at everything. Poked our heads in doorways to view the courtyards (Ivan and Pepe too, told us it's okay to look; if the owner comes out, just say "Muey buena and all is forgiven). 

Santa Cruz is a tourist area being close to the cathedral but in moments a street will empty and become silent and peaceful. Aside from that momentary peace, kids from neighbouring schools came through, all in uniform, and were jubilantly noisy.

There are many legends and stories about famous people for example Don Juan (now on a pedestal in bronze) was to have serenaded and captured the love of a nun in one square. This is the area of Sevilla that he “partied” in, wooing many women.

Had some wonderful tapas at Vineria An Telmo and moved on to have a drink next to the river Guadalquivir, the name means big river (in Arabic) which runs beside the city and ends in a large port of export.

Another wonderful day with our guide Ivan! Thank you once again for giving another “intimate” view of the city of Sevilla.

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