I love this place. It is a dream come true. I thought Italy had a permanent place in my heart for favorite European country, but now Spain seems to have pulled into the lead. I'll have to see after we are no longer in the country if my feelings remain this way.
We took a city bus from our hostel on Saturday morning to the main bus station where we caught a bus directly to the airport in Bilbao a little over an hour away. We got there pretty early, so we each had an espresso and sat and read our books until it was time to board. The flight was short and easy. We sure feel like we fly a fair amount. I used to like it a lot when I was younger, but the more I fly I feel like I like it less. You are just so cramped and there is not getting out or taking breaks like when you are in the car. But you can't beat the speed of flying.
We arrived at the airport and took the bus into the city. Right at the last stop where we got off the bus was a "Festival of the Nations" taking place which runs for about a month and has many different booths offering food and goods for sale that represent countries from around the world. It reminds me so much of Tollwood the festival in Munich that I fell in love with over the summer, which Ryan and I went to with Michelle during her visit. I'd still say Tollwood is cooler though. Oh and get this... they had a booth of American food. Not surprising to see hamburgers, hot dogs, and fried chicken ranch sandwiches, but what I was astounded by was that they had cases stacked six high of DUFF beer. The only time I have ever seen Duff beer to know it exists outside of the Simpsons is when my friend Reneé found a six pack in a due out she cleaned and gave me one because she thought they were gross. And they are. Apparently Spain associated America with the Simpsons and Duff beer. They also had a large poster of the Hollywood sign up, and Uncle Sam poster, a Obama poster, and the America Flag. Isn't it interesting to see how foreigners view us?
Ryan and I were really hungry having not eaten in many hours and finally decided on each having falafel tortilla wraps from the Egyptian booth. Then we went to the Brazil booth and thought we were ordering a whole fresh coconut with the top chopped off to drink the coconut water inside but instead the woman made up some gross mixed coconut cocktail drink, so that was disappointing. I managed to walk out of there with only one other purchase which was some Indian tea that we gave one of our three bags to our couchsurfing hosts.
From the festival we walked toward the river and then along it until we headed a few streets in land to the home we are currently staying in. The nice couple Jordan and Sarah are registered on couchsurfing and I contacted them through there. But they also happen to work for the school here in Seville that George Fox Students study abroad at. Our friend Brett was here for Jordan and Sarah's first semester working for the program. We are so thankful Brett recommended them to us as hosts and they have been truly wonderful hosts.
After meeting them and visiting for a little bit we hit the town. We went first to Plaza de Espana which is having their grand opening right now. It is a huge magnificent old building but the moat and grounds in front of the building have been under construction for the whole time Jordan and Sarah have lived here. There were so many people enjoying the beautiful plaza and the perfect weather we've had here in Seville our two days. They were even renting row boats for really cheap to row around on the moat, but the line was way too long for us to find worth it.
From that Plaza we entered a park garden area that was very nice to stroll through. We wandered down the river and across a bridge into a fairly residential part of town but there was a pedestrian street with shops that we discovered and mosied (sp?) down stopping here and there to go in and have a look in certain stores.
We then walked along the river again looking for a good restaurant to stop at and have some Sangria while sitting by the river. On our way though we saw a woman being arrested. She was resisting the arrest and it took two officers to pin her to the pavement to keep her still. Then back up came flying in from every direction and the news media pulled up in a van but never though it was important enough to get out and film I guess. We have no idea what happened but they got her in a police car and drover her to the station that we discovered later in our walk was only about 200 meters further down the river front. There were so many people watching the action though, I just wish I understood some Spanish to try and understand what she had been arrested for.
Eventually we found a perfect spot to stop for a drink. They had seats right up against the river and although I was disappointed to see him get a premade store bought Sangria mix out of the fridge opposed to a housemade Sangria it was still refreshing on a hot day and what the heck, we're in Spain.
After that siesta we headed back to the other side of the river and just walked and walked and walked in the direction Jordan had showed us on our map (which they kindly gave us) that they like to go get tapas for dinner sometimes. On the way we found some tents selling lots of cool things I like to look at and Ryan was nice enough to let me stop and do so.
We made it to the area he'd recommended but we hadn't asked for any specific recommendations so really we had no idea where to go. In the end we just went into a place that had lots of people, since that is usually a good sign. Tapas in Seville is very different from pintxos in Donostia. For one thing the portions are much larger. We ordered three different things and were stuffed when we had finished them. One was potatoes with a slightly spicy red sauce, the next spinach with garbanzo beans and lots of olive oil and garlic cooked with it (I think this was both our favorite), and lastly chunks of cooked tuna with onion in a broth. All three were good but not quite as gourmet as Donostia. It didn't make me want to keep eating forever even when I was full.
And from there we headed back to Jordan and Sarah's because we weren't sure their schedule and when they like to go to bed and didn't want to be rude guests who come back way late at night. Yet when we arrived back they were just about to have friends over, Wesley and Emma (also Americans who just arrived to teach English through a different organization). They had made brownies and then had plans to go to a bar where there was going to be flamenco dancing. They kindly invited us to come along, or did I ask and they kindly said of course, anyway, I was so excited because I had really hoped to find some random flamenco show while we were here. It even got better because I got an email from Brett this morning and he told us to check out this one totally hidden place that you can't even tell is a bar unless it is open at night with lots of people and music. And of course it is the same place we went last night. The unfortunate part was that the bar was really crowded and we couldn't see the dancers feet which is a huge part of flamenco and it was also really smokey and I don't think any one in our group liked that one bit. So after while we left and Jordan and Sarah walked us around a bit on the way back pointing out places of interest and things we might be able to do the next day.
When we got back we checked our email, got ready for bed, and at least Ryan fell asleep really quickly because I could hear him snoring like an animal. We haven't seen Jordan and Sarah yet today to ask them, but I really really hope he did not keep them up. I love their apartment. It is so cute, but also very small. You enter into the living room/kitchen. There is a door off that to their bedroom and the bathroom. And then there is a loft over the kitchen where we are sleeping. So all that being said there is not much space or many walls to drown out the noise from Ryan's nose. And I stayed awake for a good portion of the night hitting him trying to keep him quiet so they didn't wake up. I guess we'll see them later tonight and hopefully they slept alright.
Of course I have all of today to tell you about too, but I think we better head out for dinner at the place Brett claims is the best tapas in Seville. I'll let you know my review later. And in the morning we already have our bus tickets to Tarifa where we will cross to Straight of Gibralter to Morocco. We looked up ferry prices and are not thrilled with what we see we'll be paying for each of our round trip voyages, but at least we are saving money with couchsurfing here in Seville and we have a host waiting for us in Morocco as well.