Now is the time to blog about our trip across Southern Spain! Casey and I have been taking it relatively easy the past few days, but I’ve been busy going through our photos and choosing the best ones. Yay! It’s a time-consuming process, I’ll be honest. It’s just wonderful to have so many pictures in the first place, but then you have to go through them, tag them, and edit them if you want. I meant to post this blog yesterday, but it took a lot longer than I expected. Anyway, let’s talk about the fun part.
We left our apartment in Valencia bright and early at 7:20 AM, although it was still pitch black at that hour. It was raining lightly and the rain made all the lights twinkle. We were prepared though with our raincoats and rain covers for our bags. Casey wanted to pack as lightly as possible so all we had was a backpack and a bike bag. Our packing situation worked out really well though since we traveled light but still had everything we needed. We rode our bikes to the bus stop and then took the bus to the train station!
We timed it perfectly so all we had to do was fold up our bikes and check in. They have security screening at some train stations, but they are definitely not as serious about it as airports. There was always plenty of space on the trains to put our bikes; sometimes they fit in the luggage compartments and other times they had specific bike areas. Since our train ride was so early, Casey tried to get some sleep!
The journey was about four hours long but it went by quickly. After we arrived in Sevilla, we rode our bikes to our hotel and checked in. I wouldn’t say that Spain is known for its bike lanes, but most of the bigger cities have them. We wished that more cities had better bike lanes though because they are really convenient and make riding a lot more comfortable. We always tried to stay on the bike lanes when able. Casey was very good at navigating on his phone, and he has a helpful phone mount on his bike so he can look at maps while we ride.
We spent two days in each city, so the first day we usually just rode our bikes around town to get acquainted with the area and see the layout. It was a good plan since we could figure out what we wanted to see and then spend more time there during the second day. Sevilla was just beautiful. The air was crisp with the feeling of early winter in the air (and we both love fresh, crisp weather), and there was the pretty Guadalquivir River surrounding the city. They love designing cities around rivers here in Spain, but I imagine that that is the same in most of Europe. If I think about it, Portland, Oregon is also situated around the river just like Sevilla, so I guess it’s similar all over the world!
We rode on the outskirts of town and stopped at various places to take pictures. There were a lot of awesome buildings to admire!
We ended up at a gorgeous park called Parque de Maria Luisa. It looked almost like an open-air museum because it was filled with fountains, statues, gazebos, ponds, orange trees, and flowers. On that note, I should mention that Sevilla itself is bursting with orange trees! I’m not exaggerating. They line almost every street in the whole city. The trees make the streets more enjoyable, and sometimes we could smell a faint fragrance of orange essence in the air. Mmm.
Anyway, getting back to the park… it was so beautiful and majestic. I felt like I was in someone’s private backyard garden. (Actually it was someone’s private property until the late 1800’s when the owner, Maria Luisa, donated it to the city.) There were benches with ornate vases propped next to them and arbors with vines creeping upward. There were numerous birds and ducks but we only saw one swan.
There were two museums on the premises, but we didn’t go into them. We’re not big museum people, so you’ll notice that we didn’t go into very many along our trip. We prefer to see cities from a local’s perspective and find hidden gems that might not be on a tourist’s map. That being said, we did spend a lot of time in touristy sections and we did visit the most prominent sites because, well, we had to. We couldn’t quite visit a city and not see its most famous landmark!
While riding through the park, we came across the Plaza de España, one of the popular spots in Sevilla. It was built to mark the Ibero-American Exposition World’s Fair of 1929. It’s a HUGE semicircle with two large bell towers at either end and a main building at the very center. There is a moat in front of it, so you can only get to the buildings by crossing bridges. There is also a large fountain in the very center of the plaza. It was breathtaking to see, and we got there at the perfect time just as the sun was setting.
The plaza is lovely in itself, but there are also very ornate, tiled alcoves all along the walls of the semicircle. Each alcove represents a different province of Spain. We were told that the tradition is to take a picture in your home province, so we did just that for Valencia!
The sun set and we made our way to the downtown area to check out THE MAIN HOT SPOT: the Cathedral of Sevilla. It was impressive!! My pictures definitely do not do it justice since I couldn’t get a good vantage point for the life of me. We went back the next day to take more pictures, and I still could not find a good spot to photograph the cathedral in all its glory. Of course, there is a reason for this: it is the largest Gothic building in Europe and the third largest church in Europe. I just looked up the statistics online and some sites differ about its rank in the world, but regardless, it’s huge! Apparently it took 104 years to build! From 1402-1506. WOW! That’s crazy. I absolutely love Gothic architecture, so I was in awe the whole time. I love all the ornate details and immense decorations that it possesses. The details like flying buttresses, arches, spires, and towers are just glorious!
Sigh. I really really wanted to get a better view, but we didn’t make time to climb the bell tower, which is called La Giralda. I read that if you go to the top, you could see a good amount of the cathedral from above. (Either that, or rent an airplane hehe.) I guess this gives us something to see again if we ever want to go back to Sevilla. We also didn’t go inside of the cathedral, so that is something else we could do. Also, take a good look at that photo above and you can see Casey among the crowd!
The rest of our second day was spent riding around town and taking pretty [and quirky] photos of the city and of each other. We didn’t find any more monuments that we wanted to see, so we mainly relaxed and just enjoyed the day.
All-in-all, we really enjoyed Sevilla! It treated us well. I think it was one of my favorite cities just because of the Cathedral alone, but it also did have a nice vibe to it. The people were nice, it felt modern enough, but it also had a deep feeling of antiquity which some cities just have and others do not. It was a great start to our tour of Southern Spain!
I’ve decided to post a new blog about each city that we visited instead of combining it all into one post. That way it’s shorter, and it will be easier to differentiate between all of the cities (for you and for me). Normally I post all of my pictures in the blog, but I have way too many to post in this usual fashion. Therefore, I’m going to try something new and put all of our photos into a gallery at the end of each post. I only chose the best photos to actually showcase in the blog, but there are still many good ones in the gallery. Click on a picture and it will become larger. Then you can scroll through all of them and see bigger images. I also captioned some of the photos so you can read those descriptions if you click on a picture. Please do it! :) Enjoy!