I think I have fallen in love with Seville. Prior to today my favourite European city was Florence followed by Rome but I'm afraid my Italian devotion may have come to an end.
Once we overcame the trauma of parking, we embarked on a never ending treasure hunt of narrow lane after narrow lane. Stopping at a cafeteria the children snacked on ice cream and we had some coffee to fortify ourselves for some heavy duty sight seeing.
Around every corner was a new breath taking church. Entering the cathedral literally took our breath away. It is the largest cathedral in the world, even bigger than St Paul's in London or St Peter's in Rome. The stained glass was incredible. We paid our homage at Christopher Columbus' tomb and headed outside to marvel at the tower.
The sun was shining and we wandered the twisty turny streets to find some lunch at a local tapas bar. We tried the local orange wine which was mmmmmmmm gooooood!
Back into the streets headed for the Alcazar we could see the storm clouds gathering and managed to make it inside just before the mist turned to downpour. The only trouble with this is that the Alcazar is half inside half outside and around every corner we would find ourselves running across yet another charming courtyard to avoid getting soaked. The children thought this was a fabulous game.
When the skies cleared we explored the streets of the Barrios de Santa Cruz aimlessly until the day turned to night. The Sevilians packed the streets. They are like little vampires who only come out after dark. Before heading for the car we popped in for some more ice cream and coffees and then to the local grocery shop for some basic provisions (milk, bread). As we were bagging up it started to rain. A lot!
Donning our rain gear we headed into the streets. Marc turned left and I turned right. The we deicded straight ahead was the right way. Then left. Then right. Then right. Then left. And so on and so on and so on. At which point the children asked us if we knew where we were going. And we realised we didn't. Nor did we know where we were. After 20 minutes of walking around in circles in the dark driving rain panic started to set in. Trying to refer to a not very detailed map in the torrential downpour presented its own challenges.
We then realized the police were closing off roads and locals were lining the streets as if to watch a parade. Initially we couldn’t even contemplate stopping to watch as we were dead set on just finding the car park. And then we took a moment to just live in the moment.
We could hear a band in the distance and joined the throngs of people lining the narrow lanes for a short wait. Not sure what we were waiting for but everyone seemed very excited, especially the children who appeared to be all holding letters. We knew that the 12th day of Christmas, 6th January, is a national holiday and that Father Christmas delivers highly anticipated gifts (not unlike our Christmas Eve). Marc and I guessed these letters contained the equivalent of our letters to Santa.
Soon the band was upon us. And then Spaniards dressed in Arab garb complete with dark brown painted faces began collecting the letters and in return throwing candy into the crowds lining the roads. Even though our children had no letter to offer they were happy to collect the sweets. A man in a red suit on a donkey brought up the rear of the parade. Clearly he was the man, the top dog and the target of the letters. After just a few moments the parade had ended and everyone went about their business.
We then looked up and realized we were on a street corner that we recognised as one we had passed that morning when we left the car. We knew exactly where we were and how to get to where we were going.
I am so glad we didn’t miss it. I’m so glad we stopped and lived in that moment. We took time to breath and enjoy and all was good.