I promised to write a second post about our week in Seville, and as it’s now Sunday again, I realise I’d best get on with it.
A week in one place is generally more than I can cope with, especially if it’s a city. My wander lust is much more geared to seeking out other more rural places, and since Seville has a pretty good public transport system, we extended our reach beyond the end of the metro line by taking buses to Gines and Sand Lúcar la Mayor and the train to Huelva on the coast.
Buses in the Seville urban area are amazingly cheap the further you go. We were very fortunate in that the main bus station was very close to our shabby digs, so we wandered across the road one day, picked a name from the board, and waited for the bus to arrive. Okay, it wasn’t quite as random as that; I’d seen where Gines was on the map and thought it might be a nice place to aim for as a destination. Only 15kms from the city, I thought it would be easy to return if we didn’t like it. As it happened we were completely charmed. It cost us the grand total of €1,40 each to get there, exactly the same as it would have cost to do a trip across town in Seville. What we realised was that it doesn’t matter how far you go, the price is the same for any trip inside the urban area of Seville.
Gines, however, is very much its own place and very pretty. Our bus took us through other towns we’d have liked to see as well, but we had to decide on a goal and were very happy with our choice. It is a small town where people live, congregate and lead their lives without apparently needing to go to the city. The main street was lively with locals chatting to each other, the architecture of the houses and buildings was as charming as it can get, and we enjoyed a refreshing cup of coffee on an expansive outside terrace where families were eating and a group of men were clearly having a regular gathering of the (older) lads. We bought a few groceries in the local Spar shop, where the grocer himself was more than welcoming and friendly, and Koos even felt relaxed enough to have a kip in the town square.
Here are a few snaps I took of the town.
|I loved this staircase with it tiles and garden courtyard in Gines|
Our second outing was to Huelva, a town on the coast. I'd read quite a bit about it before we went to Spain and was told it wasn't favoured by tourists, which somehow made it more appealing. We took the train from Seville's Santa Justa station on Monday the 15th and arrived in Huelva at a little after 11:30 following a journey of an hour and a half. The scenery on the way was gentle, rolling hills without much to distinguish them but we enjoyed both the trip and seeing a little more of what was probably the coastal plain.
The weather was somewhat grey in Huelva, but we liked it all the same. It's a place where people live, like Gines, and it doesn't put on any airs. Two things appealed to us no end: one was the discovery of its industrial history as represented in the restored pier: now a pedestrian walkway, but once the loading quay for ships transporting copper from the nearby open cast mines. If you watch the brief video, it gives you a glimpse of the scale of the mining in the area. They only stopped operating about 25 years ago.
In addition, if you dig into the history of the mines and the pier (apologies for the pun), you will find the latter was designed and built by the British who had interests in Huelva’s developments.
Huelva was also the place where Christopher Columbus (Christobel Colon in Spanish) was said to have embarked on his travels to the New World. There's a statue of him in the centre of town, and an even bigger sculpture of him outside town which we didn't actually see.
|Cranes next to the pier and riverside|
|Christoper Columbus…Go west, my sons…|
|More pretty Spanish tiles|
What made our visit even more special, though, was a meeting with dear friend and renowned author, Stephen Powell. We met him at a bus stop in Estoi in the Algarve three years ago and have kept in touch ever since. It was really lovely to see him again and we spent a few very enjoyable hours catching up at a very pleasant restaurant, followed by a walk along the pier. I should mention that Stephen is the author of two excellent travel books: one about Portugal and the other about the Caucasus, both of which focus on the marathon walks he made in these countries. You can find his fascinating accounts here on Amazon. Given that he was a Reuters correspondent for around 27 years, the quality of his writing speaks for itself.
There's a lot more I could say about Huelva, but I think it would need its own post. Suffice to say we enjoyed our visit very much and can recommend it, not so much for its eye candy as for its history and its wonderful rivers.
Our last excursion was again by bus to the beautiful, and probably touristy, town of Sanlúcar la Mayor, which is roughly twenty-five kilometres from Seville. Again, the bus ride was incredibly cheap and cost less than €4 return for the two of us. It was quite a walk from the bus stop down to the town centre, and since it was a bit drizzly we first had coffee at a café on the main through road. This proved to be a feast in itself. Just for something extra, we ordered a piece of chocolate cake, which eventually appeared smothered in chocolate sauce and with a large scoop of ice cream. It was quite a creation, and utterly delicious.
Luckily for us, the skies cleared and it turned into a beautiful day. We first walked to the station, another of the region's classic Moorish designs, and then we strolled to the church square, which was quite captivating. I wouldn't be surprised if it's heaving with tourists in the summer. During our visit, it was quiet and peaceful in the sunshine; the station was deserted; and the cafés in the square were empty. Nevertheless, we loved it. It was only later we discovered how much more we could have seen there had we done a bit of research beforehand, rather than just picking a name on the bus timetable. There's a bit more about it on this website.
There’s heaps more I could mention about Seville and all the the beautiful sights we’ve seen, but that would fill a small book. On our last day, we finally visited the cathedral, which is apparently the third largest church in the world, after St Peter’s in Rome and St Paul’s in London. The immensity was something to behold, but like the curate’s eggs, I only liked parts of it. Impressive, yes, opulent, yes, but beautiful? Not inside so much. I felt it lacked coherence and had an overdose of medieval bling. The exterior is, however, stunning and quite magnificent.
Here are a few of my photos of the interior areas:
So that’s about wrapped up Seville. Apologies to Tom Williams – there are absolutely no barges in this post, but I hope the cranes, the pier and the river at Huelva make up for it a little.
Enjoy your week, allemaal and I’ll fill you in with news on the home front next week.
Looks like a wonderful trip! I enjoyed your blog and the pictures as well!ReplyDelete
Ah, thank you, Kathleen. What a kind comment, 😘Delete
When I lived in Spain in the sixties, I never went to Seville (fool that I was!) so am delighted to see this post and learn something about it. Thank you!ReplyDelete
Ah Shirley, you can’t go everywhere. Spain is such a big country , but I’m sure you’d have loved it.Delete
Extraordinary photos - but your blogs are always extraordinary, dear Val. Thanks for inviting us to enjoy the trip! (Steph)ReplyDelete
Steph, thank you so much. I’m really glad you enjoyed it, my dear.Delete
Hi Val - I've never visited this part of Spain - I'd love to go sometime ... I enjoy the way you decide your daily travels ... usually we need to make two trips to understand a place - at least that's what I find.ReplyDelete
That pier is magnificent ... compared to our crumbling wooden structures here on the south coast! As you say Huelva sounds historically a fascinating place and how wonderful to meet up with Stephen - thanks for the recommendations for his books ... both I'd like to read (sometime - as I've rather more than I need here!) ...
The Cathedral looks to be amazing ... what a size ... the travel costs sound amazing ... lovely post - thanks for sharing .., cheers Hilary
You made the most of your visit, the bus trips allowed you to reach further out and I enjoyed reading about them. The photo's were excellent, so good to see blue skies and the cathedral was impressive, if a little too grand. I enjoy churches but look for the out of the way intimate little examples.ReplyDelete
Super post, I enjoyed it but now I feel worn out! David.
Ah thank you, David. I too prefer simplicity to the opulence of Seville Cathedral. One of my favourite English cathedrals is Salisbury, which is the more beautiful because of its pure, uncluttered lines. It seems more spiritual as a result, and thus more in keeping with what the purpose of a church. I’m pleased you enjoyed our adventures even if they did exhaust you. 😊Delete
Have enjoyed your Spanish posts and the photos. Have never been to Seville, it sounds delightful. Good wishes.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Mike! I can definitely recommend visiting if you ever get the chance. It’s a marvellous, vibrant place!Delete
Thank you for sharing. I really enjoy your blog and the photos. It makes me want to go there too. I will put it on our bucket list. Do the locals speak English?ReplyDelete
Mitos, thank you! How lovely to see you here. Good question about the locals! A few of them speak English to a limited degree, even fewer speak it well, but mostly they don’t, which can be quite challenging. :)Delete
Thanks Val for another fascinating blog. I enjoyed reading about your trips to nearby towns. They have such an interesting history too - that huge copper mine! I can imagine how impressed you would both have been with the industrial heritage. That restored pier is quite something. Like you there were bits I loved about the Cathedral but I also prefer things a little less ornate.ReplyDelete
Thank you so much for commenting, Rebecca. Yes, we were very taken by Huelva and its history. It was such a major port at one time. Definitely worth the visit, but we’d like to go back and see more next year. I’m glad you agree about the cathedral!Delete
I've loved both your Seville posts, Val. I went there about 17 years ago but it was one of those ridiculous coach trips where you only have about 5 hours to see the lot! You've inspired me to go back. Aidan. p.s. Not sure why I can't reply as ablokedyslexic via Google???!!!ReplyDelete
Thank you, Aidan! I'm so pleased to hear from you. I was about to send you a mail to ask if you were okay. I'm glad you enjoyed the posts. That's great! Re commenting via Google...I don't always understand how it works, but I've found I can't comment with my Google account if I use a tablet and follow a link that way. I have to open it properly in a browser. Maybe that's the problem?Delete
I think it's working now? It was great to see all that sun and architecture. Definitely one to revisit in the future.Delete