A Travellerspoint blog

Seville

and sunshine

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Mar. 14th - We took the train from Madrid to Seville and again, the views were beautiful. The beginning of the trip we were passing groves of olive trees surrounded by fences made of stone and craggy mountains on the horizon. As the hours passed the scenery gave way to rolling hills, orange groves and whitewashed houses. We arrived in Sevilla in the afternoon and we were greeted with wonderful sunshine and warm weather (in the 60's).

Our apartment/hotel is in the old Jewish section of the city called Barrio Santa Cruz. The area is closed to cars so we had to get dropped by our taxi outside of the area and walk to the hotel. We were a sight with all of our luggage walking down the narrow, cobblestoned streets. After we got settled we headed out for some food and decided to take a horse carriage ride to get familiar with the layout of the city. It was Sunday evening and there were people walking everywhere and the parks were crowded with famiies enjoying the weather and each other.

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Seville is on a river and was the departure point in the 16th Century to the "New World". Ships left the port here headed for America and returned full of gold and silver. There are statues and monuments to Columbus and other Spanish explorers everywhere.

Mar. 15th - After breakfast at our hotel we opted to walk to Maria Luisa Park which is not far from our hotel. We went through it on the horse carriage the night before and the girls wanted to play on some of the structures that we'd seen. We rented a surrey (bike) and rode throughout the park. It was the first time on our journey that we actually got hot and had to take a break and get a cold drink. After a siesta back at our apartment we went to the Museo del Baile Falmenco to tour the museum and see a flamenco show. Lucy and I really enjoyed the dancing and the costumes but Gracie could have passed on the whole thing. The walked back to our neighborhood in the dark and got to see the Cathedral lit up and it was an amazing sight. We finally had paella for dinner and I had some wonderful sangria. We ate late and finally, I felt like a Spainard.

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Mar. 16th - Today we opted to have breakfast at Starbucks (yes, they are absolutely everywhere). We took a long, long walk (aka I misread the map and we went the wrong direction) to the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza (Seville's bullfighting arena). We went on a guided tour and got to see the arena and visit a museum dedicated to bullfighting. The bullfighting season starts next month and they were spiffing up the site while we were there. We learned a lot about bullfighting and all agreed that we don't think we want to ever see the event live (although Gracie thought she might be interested when she is older). The bullfights are held on Sunday afternoons and three matadors each "fight" two bulls. A specialty on the menus in Seville is bull tail, however, I'm not sure we will partake.

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The girls made a fort in the apartment to take their siesta in and afterwards we decided to make burgers for dinner. I guess we are all a little tired of the bread with tomato and manchego cheese. The weather is supposed to stay nice all week and we're looking forward to wearing our short sleeves and putting on our sunglasses. Adios for now.

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Posted by k2arevalo 14:36 Archived in Spain Comments (5)

Final Madrid

By Kristie with comments by Gracie and Lucy

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Mar. 12th - The weather is unseasonably cold in Madrid but it was even colder on our tour to Avila and Segovia. It was actually snowing on us in Avila. Our tour was on a large bus and the tour guide spoke to us in English and it was nice to have someone else telling us what we were seeing instead of reading about it in Fodor's. Avila is a walled city that has the largest original wall around it in Europe. They are proud of their Saint Teresa who was from there and lived in the 1500's. She was born a wealthy woman, as were many of the clergy during that time, and she created a movement in Spain for the clergy to live as the poor did and to renounce their worldly possessions.

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Segovia is another walled city and there is a beautiful cathedral and fairytale looking castle as well. The city is high on a hill and has an aquaduct that the Romans built that carried water to the town from the mountains for centuries. Much of the aquaduct is still intact and it is an engineering marvel. Within the old part of the city the streets are all cobblestones and the shops all closed for siesta. It was nice to wander around and we enjoyed our tour of the castle, especially the room that had busts of kings and queens from the 8th through the 16th centuries. The first king shown was from the 700s and he was King Pelayo (who knew our good friends the Pelayos were decendents of nobility?!).

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Mar. 13th - I was overruled (we're voting on some days about what we're going to do and for some reason it ends up being kids vs. me a lot :) ) and we decided to forgo the Prado Museum and head out to the zoo in Casa de Campo park. The weather was nice and sunny and the zoo/aquarium was actually pretty nice. Gracie and Lucy enjoyed being outside running around and I think it was a good call and what we all needed. After the zoo we wandered around the central area of Madrid from the Palacio Real to our hotel. There were a ton of people out walking around and we were soaking in all of the sights and sounds.

Madrid has been a nice city and I look forward to returning sometime to take in more of the museums and stay up late drinking wine and nibbling on tapas the Spanish way. Since it is just the three of us I have been hesitant to be out after dark walking around so we have foregone some of the Spain experiences. We are off to Seville next via train.

Gracie and Lucy comments on Madrid
(Lucy)What I like about Madrid is that we can walk around. And my favorite part was going to a park and my favorite part was the rope swing. I liked it because u can do trikes in the air. My second favorite thing was going to nap. Then I also liked going to a castle where the queen and king of spain go for special events. And I liked to see the throneroom. Because there were lions by the thrones. And there were paintings on allmost every ceiling.

(gracie) I like Marid because you can walk every where and where ever u look there is a market. My favorite museum was the Royal Palace which had a scary, deadly, terrifying, and awful torture devices. I liked the park that Lucy liked for the same reason (I was the first one on the swing). On allmost every rooftop there were statues of things that I couldn't even name. My favorite animal at the zoo were the white tigers. They were sun bathing!

Posted by k2arevalo 03:36 Archived in Spain Comments (5)

More Madrid

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Wed. Mar 10th - In keeping with the girl's one museum a day "rule", we hit up the Reina Sofia Museum in the morning. It is a modern art museum in an old hospital building and is was facinating. It houses works by Dali and Picasso, among others, and it's highlight is Picasso's Guernica painting. In the gallery with Guernica were other paintings inspired by the Spanish Civil War of the 1930's as well as propaganda posters from that time. Gracie has become very interested in the war and Franco in particular. This was a war that I knew little about and it has been fun to learn about it together.

In the evening we took the Metro to Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to watch Real Madrid play Olympique Lyonnais. Wow, what a treat! We sat in the 13th row and Ronaldo scored a goal right in front of us. We knew that he did it just for us. The stadium is one of the largest in Europe and the crowd was going wild. Throughout the game people were singing and chanting and the French fans were amazing in their passion for their team. So much fun and we would highly recommend seeing a game if you are ever in Madrid. We will never look at the game of soccer (I mean futbol) the same way again.

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Thur. Mar 11th - After breakfast we walked over to the Plaza Sol and the official store of Real Madrid. After the game last night we all felt the need for some team merchandise. The girls each got Ronaldo jerseys and wore them with pride throughout the day. They received lots of positive comments from the madridlenos.

In the afternoon we toured the Palacio Real and all agreed that is was cool. The throne room is super ornate and the palace is filled with effigies of Greek gods. Gracie just finished reading The Lightening Thief series and she was pointing out all of the gods as we made our way through the palace. We all thought the armory which is filled with medieval armor worn by knights and their horses (and even some worn by dogs) was a highlight. Plus it's amazing the conversations you can have after viewing items used for torture during The Inquisition. Finally we popped into the cathedral next to the Palace. Some of you know that our family symbol since Ken died is the rainbow and we saw beautiful rainbows throughout the church as the afternoon sun shone through all of the stained glass windows. It took our breath away and I left with a renewed feeling of peace.

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Tomorrow we are off on a tour of Segovia and Avila. We discovered there is a town called Arevalo near Avila and Queen Isabel the Catholic's mother lived in the castle there in the 16th century. We won't be visiting the town on this trip but maybe another.

We are all enjoying the comments and emails. Gracie and Lucy miss their friends and it's nice to keep in touch. Kristie misses her friends and family too :) Adios for now!

Posted by k2arevalo 22:34 Archived in Spain Comments (5)

Madrid

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Mar 8th - We arrived in Madrid via train from Barcelona and the ride was nice. There was a lot of snow along the route and I'd never seen vineyards covered in snow. It was beautiful. After arriving at our hotel we decided to walk around and had a wonderful dinner of garlic shrip, manchego cheese and bread at a nearby restaurant. Our hotel is on a quiet side street with very little traffic not far from the Prado Museum. We discovered how to download movies on iTunes and the girls enjoyed watching a movie in English on the computer before bed.

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Mar. 9th - After our hour of school work (math today) we headed out to explore the sights. It was our first truly sunny day so we opted to go to a park. We walked over to Parque del Buen Retiro and it was beautiful. Our great friend Jen lived here after college and she recommended that we rent boats on the lake. After a lunch of manchego cheese and bread (yes, it's becoming a habit and we're thankful it's easy to get in Oakland), we rented a row boat. The entire time we were out on the boat a man was playing jazz in the background on his saxaphone. It was such a great vibe. Gracie wants you to know she misses playing her sax. We all agreed that Mrs. Wasson (their p.e. teacher) would approve of the rowing as the physical education for the day - it was tough. Then it was on to a playground for at least an hour of fun. What a great day!

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We are all sleeping really heavy at night and I think it's because we are walking at least 8 hours every day. Some other highlights - Gracie has discovered a new drink she really likes called Aquarius and Lucy and I are digging the chocolate and churros.

Also - great news - I received a letter in Oakland from a man in Germany saying he found my wallet at the Frankfurt airport and turned it in to the lost-and-found! My mom will be there in a couple of weeks on her way to meet us and she is going to pick it up. Thanks so Gia my replacement credit cards are in transit as I type but it will be nice to have my drivers license and the money inside. So I guess it was my silly mistake and the girls were giving me a bad time about blaming that shady man next to us. You can all sleep easier on planes now :)

We will be heading to a Real Madrid game on on Wed. night and are all excited about it. Adios for now!

Posted by k2arevalo 23:16 Archived in Spain Comments (4)

Our final days in Barcelona

By Gracie and Lucy (and Kristie)

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By Gracie and Lucy -
Saturday - Tibidabo (tippy- top- o) all afternoon and they were protesting so they were only open for 3 of the 5 hours. We had dinner at a touristy place which was crowed and busy. Gracie's favorite were the tea cups, roller coasters, bumper cars, and the balloon man(not a clown thankfully). Lucy's favorite were the mini bumper cars, bumper cars, teacups, balloon man, roller coaster(she went on only one of two), and haunted (cheesy) mansion.WE LOVED IT.

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Sunday - First, we went to the church. Then, we went to a pizza place where we had lunch. Next, we went to a museo xocolat(chocolate). Then we went to a park where we walked around and sat on a big mammouth and then we walked a little more till we got to a park, where we played on a swing. After that, we went to a mammouth museo and saw lots of things from the Ice Age and got to sit on a wooly rino and then, got to touch bones.

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By Kristie - It's been a busy weekend and we were able to pack a lot in. The weather has been chilly but thankfully not much rain. On Saturday we headed up to an amusement park called Tibidabo (thanks for the recommendation Sierra and Ryan) and we all enjoyed ourselves. The workers were protesting their wages so the park was closed for a couple of hours but we were able to have an ice cream and wait them out. It was opening day of the 2010 season so they were making a statement. It was a good lesson in democracy for the girls.

Since Sunday was our last day in Barcelona I wanted to walk everywhere and we started looking at the Basilica Santa Maria del Mar in the Born section of the city. They were about 1/2 way through Mass so we (I!) decided we should participate so we went in and were able to get communion (and the girls were just saying at breakfast that they were able to miss church). It was really cool to be in a church that was over 700 years old and imagine all of the people that have celebrated Mass there. We then headed over to the Chocolate Museum (we gave you a shout out, Vicki) and were amazed at all of the items made of chocolate. Of course we had a wonderful cup of warm chocolate after the tour. The Parc de la Ciuledella was neat and we saw a large group of people swing dancing. The surprise hit of the day was the Museo del Mamut. It was right next to the Picasso Museum and the girls were amazed that they let us touch everything and the man in charge even put them on one of the displays for a photo. We met someone from Davis there which was funny.

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Today we are heading to Madrid via the train. I am a bit sad to leave Barcelona but excited for the next stop. We enjoyed this city and look forward to coming back. To be a bit sentimental, we all really felt Ken's presence here, especially in the churches. I think he really would have loved this city. This trip was his gift to us and I know he is watching over us. Enough of the mushy stuff... onto Madrid. Ole!

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Posted by k2arevalo 23:36 Archived in Spain Comments (6)

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