Saturday, March 21, 2015

Mercado Romano, Roman Market and Enjoying Outside Time

People in Sevilla tend to be a happy lot. They patiently wait in line, they sing in the streets, the women even have “happy hair” What I’ve seen about "happy hair" is that it’s long, flowing, curled rather obviously with a curling iron, and looks sexy, or movie style, at least I would think men would think so. Looks to me like somewhat of an effort to produce daily, but then I remember friends doing the same in Canada in the early years. Confession, I’m a wash and run type, never took the time, but can admire from “afar”. 

Before visiting the market we have some photos to show you of just "hanging" about in Sevilla.

Ivan's picture of a picture posted in the Triana club we visited a couple of weeks ago.
Another of Ivan's pictures from Triana club
Columbus's boat midway up a statue with lion topping it. I liked the picture of boat better than the lion.
Menu at Vineria San Telmo, like the painting.
We've been to this restaurant a few times. The food is always very good, in fact it's included in some tapas tours. In our, maybe five times there, service was sometimes a bit questionable. The deserts though are made by the owners and I'm told they are wonderful! Certainly look good.

What is available to eat at this stall at Mercado Romano
Mercado Romano, Roman Market is at the Alameda on Saturday and we ran into many, many stalls of Spanish products with vendors dressed loosely like Romans. They were cooking all types of meat on large round BBQ’s, heated by coals. 

The bottom shelf is for coals, this is just a display of offerings.

Main drink to go with was Sangria (why?) or beer and there was paella, octopus, jamon, of course, a food fest with a vendor fest. 

Paella, rice, seafood, vegetable, sometimes meat, whatever recipe (or whatever is in the fridge) they go by.

Warning: if you do come to Sevilla and see a "sandwich board" with offerings of different types of paella, that means they are frozen and microwaved for consumption by non-suspecting tourists. Don't buy! The dish is properly made fresh and served on weekends, as part of the menu of the day, or tapa. It is truly tasty in all variations, although Bruce usually gets the mussels and clams in it from me.

We spoke to a man from Madrid so vendors to this annual market must come from all over Spain to attend. Booths included hand crafts, but some not so, imported from places like India. There were Spanish cheeses, meats, olives and products made from (naturally), spices, candies, textiles, leather and many others. 

Spices and herbs for tea, eating and cure of illnesses.

As said many times, we love markets and this was a particularly interesting one. 

Array of helmets, chain mail breast plate of Roman dress
We had plans for lunch on Sunday with Ryan and Angela so took them there as well, although they’d been there the evening before the booths were closed, food tents open.

Men dressed in the above pictured regalia sang and entertained everyone, mostly children. 

The orange blossoms are out! Hip Hip Hooray! The smell is heavenly and only on certain blocks but since I've had my nose in the air the last two weeks, hoping for a whiff, not being a snob, I found some. Ivan says there is a perfumery that bottles the smell, didn't make it there, hopefully another time.

So funny, we saw a blended orange, lemon tree, sometimes people graft the two together. I saw a lovely looking lemon on the pavement and rushed over to pick it up. Ivan and Bruce wondered "what the ... is Bev doing?" Came back to them and said I've got another lemon in my purse haha. Seems to happen often here, just another thing I love about being in Sevilla. 

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat saying Bye Bye to Sevilla again.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

St. Patrick's Day, Donana Park, El Rocio

Happy St. Patrick's Day to you all! Green beer will not touch these lips but I am wearing green today because I always have due to my dear departed Grandpa. Bruce and I are actual Irish Citizens due to legacy from our grandparents and very proud of that. This doesn't mean we are any less proud to be Canadian, we are just thankful to be both. Grandpa had this saying on a tile in the kitchen of their home.

     I Like this quote I dislike this quote

“An Irishman is never drunk as long as - He can hold onto one blade of grass and not - Fall off the face of the earth”

Ivan picked us up in his Mom’s Land Rover, soon understood why, we were headed to Donana Park and a town who’s streets are not paved but sandy called El Rocio on the estuary of the park.

 We drove into the park on sandy trails under large pine trees that have their bottoms clipped to discourage fire. So they look sort of like big popsicles, there is a better and more respectful description I’m sure. The smell of pine is wonderful! 

Pine tree lane, picture doesn't show the really green tops of them
Kilometres of these trees all over the very large park. Most of the park is protected as a nature reserve. It has had and still does have hazards from surrounding agriculture, the strawberry farms runoffs into the soil, well I won’t go on. This is Spain's biggest strawberry farming area. Kilometres for an entire region of covered beds of white plastic on frames that in the distance look like caterpillars over the landscape. Trying to get you a picture, I found out that the Beatles song "Strawberry Fields Forever" was written in Spain, well there you go.

In Donana Park the Iberian Lynx cat is an endangered species (one of many endangered species) and lives here, would have been wonderful to see one but they tend to come out morning and evening. It is an important migratory spot for many species of birds. So peaceful among the trees, access to the park is limited to Ranger guided tours which Ivan used to do.  You can also follow further links under the andalucia website about the area.

Then to El Rocio to view the estuary, part of the Park, which is absolutely fascinating with the many types of birds, most visible to us were flamingos, storks, ducks and many, many others, frankly, none of us knew the names of.

Zoom would only go so far, these are flamingos!
Boardwalk along the estuary

This statue represents the fellow who plays the flute and drum at once and wakens everyone.

The different species of bird one sees is indicative of the season of the birds migration. It is a bird watchers paradise and they come from all over the world to view. 

We saw a small salamander in a bush. There are wild horses, culled annually to tame some of them for domestic use.

We lunched at a hotel/restaurant overlooking the estuary. They specialize in game meats and Bruce’s meal of venison was very well done.

Bar of the restaurant, quite typical, but note the trash can and napkin dispenser
Aside: First the napkin dispenser, allows you a continual supply for wiping fingers from tapas, they are a bit tricky to get out without shredding, my method, finger on top, grab the fold half way down and lift up, works every time. Now to dispose of, most, almost all bars have buckets under a leg of the table outside to get rid of refuse like used napkins and sugar packets for coffee. Coffee is very strong here and always served with sugar which everyone but me seems to use. I was told "I was sweet enough".  It is perfectly practical to have the patrons clean up after themselves isn't it?

El Rocio is the site of an annual pilgrimage for the Virgin El Rocio. Legend has it that a fellow found a statue of the Virgin in a tree, the Romeria de El Rocio (pilgrimage) has people coming from Sevilla, and all the surrounding area, it is a very big event! People ride horses, they pull covered wagons with oxen with the statues from their churches or walk the entire way. They camp overnight and being Spanish, enjoy their time in camp singing and dancing.

The Church is beautiful, and although we weren’t supposed to take pictures, Ivan did. It was empty and we weren't part of any group snapping away. The altar area is completely covered in gold inlay, most ornate. The light you see is coming through the skylights with stained glass scenes. Other than those details it is completely white, almost austere, but that background certainly does highlight the altar.

Yes, that's me, looking a bit like a penguin I think...

No pavement in the town, all sand streets and gets very dusty when the thousands of folks are in town for the pilgrimage. The Church brotherhoods all have houses there, more like two story old style condos, with tile signs indicating which belongs to which. There are hitching posts in front of every building for the horses. 

Okay, so when was the last time you've seen a hitching post? Honestly I don't think I ever have!

A real “wild west” town. It seems to survive on tourism and the pilgrimage only.

El Rocio, a mix of old and new

We drive to the beach on the Costa de la Luz ("Coast of Light" on the wild Atlantic ocean (ah, we meet again, Atlantic, haven't seen you since Britain a year ago)) to a town called Matalascanas. 

Ivan surfs here often and it was sleepy being a week day but he says it is packed on the weekends. It’s about half an hour drive from Sevilla and there are many hotels for people to stay in, a true resort town close to Sevilla.

Note for clarification, this writing does not have the special accent over the "n" that would make it have better spelling, it's my fault, I just don't know how to do it! Simple as that, and sorry folks, but too lazy to find out I suppose. See the first link, that's what it should look like.

We rue the only few days left here but are also looking forward to going back to Germany. As said last year, we get to experience two spring times, not a thing wrong with that.

Cheers, Bev, Bruce and Lexi Cat

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Food and Flamenco Music

The Feria de Abril (fair of April) gate is getting dressed up

On a domestic matter, the fridge alarm went off most of the night, finally I unplugged it to get some sleep. Honestly it’s more of a ping than a screaming type but still annoying. Got ahold of Pepe in the morning to learn the “trick” but he didn’t know without looking at it. Magic fingers, did the same thing both Bruce and I did and it stopped, hmph.

We were going to walk to Macarena to view a wheelchair Bruce wants and has actually bought, but we did want to see it so Pepe drove us to the shop. Bruce likes it, so in thanks we took Pepe to lunch. He chose a Moroccan restaurant close by our flat, just up from Museo des Artes, the square that has all the art in it on Sunday.  Food was amazing! Wildly spiced but not over the top, subtle. A bit dark inside compared to most restaurants but provided ambiance with rich reds, blues and colour. Mint tea finished the meal which I would have said no to but it was delicious.

More food, getting so I don’t talk about anything else. Bruce had a dentist appointment which took us within five minutes of Ivan’s Mom and Dad’s “country” house. They go there in the summers when it is too hot in the city, a breeze comes off the ocean which is 60 – 70 kilometers away but they can still feel it.

We were there to get another cooking lesson, kitchen was larger and more comfortable than our flat although that was fun too. Chicken with mushrooms, onion and garlic and cous-cous salad Ivan called Taboulle but Spanish version is different than what we would make, included red and green pepper, cucumber, lemon juice and olive oil – yummy. Ivan bought a flat of local strawberries that were truly huge and awesome tasting. He also had a bottle of apple cider that you have to pour from the bottle to glass from a great height to get it to bubble, well he’s tall and had done it before so we let him take care of that, was very good and smooth tasting.

Sat around a table to eat and chat and then cleaned up, locked up, loaded Dyna the dog and came home. Dyna has lots of energy but doesn’t like to be left alone so Ivan brought her to his place for overnight.

She sat in the front passenger seat between my legs.

I didn’t take pictures of the home or grounds, being a private property but it was absolutely a beautiful place, even had a pool with salt water. Palm trees, many plants and the inside very tastefully decorated, large and light. They bought it from a builder who had many features installed that you don’t often see in Spanish homes, Ivan called it very American, won’t go on, but I'll say it’s homey and elegant all at the same time.

We took Lexi to the Vet to get her toe nails cut. As said, it’s a drama for all of us, Vet is around the corner from the flat so thought it would save Bruce and I , at least, some drama. The Vet was wonderful, conversed in French with Bruce, he’s better in French than Spanish and she was good as well. Anyway they wrapped Lexi in a towel, which we’ve done, but had her on the table which made it easier to control her, idea for next time. Done deal, three euro cost. Yeah from all.

Ivan picked Ryan, Angela and us up to take us to Triana, his parents club for what we thought was going to be flamenco dancing again but was wonderful guitar music and a powerful woman singer. 

Ryan's photo of the passion she shows as a singer

Ryan took both theirs and our cameras to the back of the room and was our photo journalist. You will see more pictures on their post when it comes up at

The new club is just a few doors down from the one we were at before, about the same size, it's called Centro Cultural Don Cecilio. Today there weren’t as many people attending which was good because it was quite warm inside. We had shared some food, had drinks and generally enjoyed being there, among people from Sevillla. There were a few children there, tapping to the music. 

Wonderful guitarist!

Ryan's picture of the two of them.

Attitude! Pepa Montes a flamenco dancer There were pictures of many people on the walls, and posters of previous years Feria's. See the chairs, hand painted and seated with woven cane. Ivan said this type of event is exactly what happens at Feria. As we were leaving a group was singing and clapping in rhythm at a table. Ryan and Angela will be here for Feria this year and get to experience it! I teased Angela that she needs a flamenco dress, Ivan agreed, puts one in the true spirit of the event.

Ivan had to park the car far, far away and on his return he picked us the first orange blossoms.

We should be here long enough to catch the wonderful smell that wafts over Sevilla!

After we went to the Triana Market, mostly to get Bruce a feed of raw oysters. Market was closing up which was unfortunate for Ryan and Angela, not to see it in it’s glory. They tried the oysters for the first time and said it was like swallowing a mouthful of sea water when swimming. Polite enough to say “an acquired taste” meaning not really liking, and I agree.

Sunday and we cruise the Alameda as we frequently do. There was a band playing and a march of many people, political I gathered. Lunch in a treed patio, Bruce had cheesecake that was the lightest, best he’d ever had. He’s not an expert, hardly ever orders it, but enjoyed. I had chilli chicken and it was excellent. Both location and food were wonderful, but it started to get crowded and Bruce felt closed in, and in the way, with his chair. On the way there we saw another practise session for Semana Santa. Others had cameras out so I took a picture.

You can see the hat I tried to describe in the previous blog.
On to the local where Alonso gave us a rice dish and mini-hambergesa. New function for the bread stick bag – fits a mini-hamburger just right! I was too stuffed to eat it, must remember to eat lightly before going to Amarillo, Alonso tends to feed us out of the goodness of his heart so I had to carefully stow the food when he wasn’t looking. We never learn do we!

Sadly we leave Sevilla March 23rd and have many more things to do before going so the next weeks will be full.

Cheers, Bx2 and pedicured Lexi Cat

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Aquarium, Semana Senta Practise and Blogger's Lunch

Sunday and the marathon is on, about 9000 participants and it winds across the river four times and through the streets. We saw it last year also but this year they painted the roads with green lines and information of the kilometer count, 42 in total I think.

The Bodega San Lorenzo sign by Antonio is finished, mounted and celebrated. Isn't it beautiful!

It is getting a lot of attention in the neighbourhood, people stopping to look. The bodega is 150 years old and this was commissioned to celebrate.

Then we were at a restaurant and saw many men practising for Semana Senta, Holy Week. What that means is they have a large box for a large number of people, perhaps 30? I didn’t count, but looked it up 28 – 40 usually. There are others hanging about to take the place of someone who tires. The box has concrete bars on the top of it to estimated weight of the religious sculpture that will be carried during the ceremony through the streets. The box has wooden head “rests” and they wear hats to cushion themselves. The hats are hard to describe, I’ll look on the web. Didn’t take a picture because this is a religious rite of passage and didn’t think it appropriate. I’m sure people do, I just want to respect their traditions. Since we’ve been here we’ve heard about this practise and usually it happens at night, this was Sunday afternoon so was glad to witness it. This is a website, one of many, that describes it in detail with pictures to show you, see someone does take pictures. This depiction was not the exact same as the one we saw, they used concrete bars, but then every church will have their own way of practising. The weight of the sculpture determines the amount of people needed to carry it, of course.

Finally, finally because I had the idea cooking for a long time, got it done. I got together eight expat bloggers, residing in Sevilla, Ivan and Pepe for a lunch at a restaurant called Yebra.

Food was excellent, service too. It was a congenial group and lasted all afternoon as large lunches do here. I really enjoyed meeting these folks and finding out more about them. Seating was a bit awkward for meeting with everyone, one long table so you were really only able to talk to the people next to you. I should have moved my butt and gone around but didn’t. Funny, these people do not socialize together regularly but suppose it’s not really, they are immersed in Sevilla life. Most have been here for years, speak fluent Spanish and work on their various projects within their communities.

We went to the Acurario de Sevilla, the aquarium. It is, as you would imagine, on the river. The display is “inspired by Magellan’s voyage around the world, finding an alternative route to the Portuguese sailors to arrive at the Spice Islands, using the Port of Seville as its starting point.” "Our aim is to teach, sensitize and raise the awareness of our visitors about the conservation and care for the environment.”

Coral, liked the colour
Crab, very tall I think.
These skates reminded me of bats and they were moving fast!
This little one was very hard to photo, but wanted to show off the beautiful design of him/her.
Turtle waving at us, just doing it's thing

It was wonderfully done, displays were on two floors with viewing tunnels. They certainly have a wide variety of species, no whales, seals, otters or above water critters.

I took many more pictures but turned out to be the back end or tail of the fish, they move pretty fast, must learn to anticipate rather than wait until it's in front of the lens. 

Lunch prior was Oriental food, nice outdoor seating on top of the aquarium so view across the river. 

Bruce said we'd come up in the world, the umbrellas advertised champagne instead of beer. We had sushi, and I had the best Pad Thai  ever.

Lunch out at another place I incorrectly named before, it’s called Voraz, yummy again. We did notice these little lemons on a few trees in the yard. 

Little lemons on the tree, hard to see they are little until you compare them to the size of the leaves.
Comparison to an ordinary lemon. 
They use them in their Gin and Tonic’s and they smell wonderful! 

Gin and Tonic is a popular cocktail here, maybe because it's refreshing, one restaurant had twenty one different kinds! There are almost as many types of tonic as gin, they sell gin and tonic kits, so you know it's an aficionado activity. The bloggers commented on this phenomenon, can't get just a plain old Gin and Tonic, have to name both the brand names of the ingredients and then add some sort of berries or seeds and such. Complicated, I don't remember noticing this last year, guess we don't get out to the posher places, which is okay by me, well we do, but for lunch.

It's warming up and we are waiting for those orange blossoms and smell once again.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat