Spain: Take Two

Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 12:09 PM
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Spain: Take Two

Back in March 2020, our much awaited, meticulously planned ‘girl’s’ trip to Spain fell victim to COVID, as did so many others in The Year We Lost.

That doomed trip was chronicled here:

Spain Interrupted: Our not-so-excellent adventure

After returning home, Donna, the other half of the ‘girl’ duo, sent this to me via text: So assuming the Zombie Apocalypse passes; save March 2022. I’m going to start planning for Spain, round 2! Madrid, Toledo and Granada.”

March 2022 came and went, but while planning a visit to Switzerland for Sept/October 2022, it occurred to me that now would be a good time for that Spain do-over.

And so began the planning. Before long, we were set; Bill and I would fly to Zurich, spend 32 nights together doing our thing in Switzerland and a wee bit of Italy, then part ways.

I would then fly from Zurich to Barcelona to meet up with Donna for 15 nights, and then return to Zurich from Madrid for one night prior to my return to the US, while Bill left for the US from Zurich the day after I left Switzerland for Spain.

Meanwhile, Donna would arrive in Barcelona a day before I did and depart from Madrid a day after I returned to Zurich. Simple, right?

In the weeks leading up to the trip, Swiss International pilots threatened to strike on October 17. I put Donna on notice, but wasn’t terribly concerned as strikes in Switzerland are pretty rare, and if there was a strike, it was assumed it would only last a day or two, and therefore not affect my flights on Oct 22 and Nov 6.

But then on Oct 17, the pilots agreed to postpone the strike until Oct 22 and 23. Uh-oh. I contacted Swiss International from within Switzerland and quizzed one of their representatives, asking if she could provide any insight, and asking if the flight on Oct 21 was full and what it would cost to change my flight to a day earlier.

After much angst, I decided to just keep an eye on things and hope for the best. And the best happened, Swiss International pilots postponed the strike again, and then eventually settled. Whew.

I will be writing a detailed report on Switzerland and Italy as well, but this report will cover Spain.

With the help of Fodorite Maribel, I came up with an itinerary that made logistical sense and covered the areas Donna and I most wanted to include.

The itinerary:

Barcelona – five nights for Donna, four for me

Seville – four nights

Granada – three nights

Madrid – five nights for Donna, four for me

Donna was busy with work, but I had the time and inclination, so I did most of the groundwork. We both researched Air BNBs (sending our suggestions to one another for input), then I booked the ones we’d agreed upon. I researched our train and bus options, then made the bookings after getting her input on my choices. Then I dug in, researching all that each city offered and sending that research to Donna to determine what she most wanted to see and do. I then made bookings for a few places that one or both of us didn’t want to miss. Because I’d be in Switzerland for a month before the trip, I wanted as much done and dusted as possible before I left home.

Oct 22 -

Bill and I left our Luzern Air BNB at 11; we then took the bus to the Bahnhof (free with Luzern guest card) and a train to the Zurich airport, which took just over an hour (15 chf each, half fare, last day of our 30 day half fare card).

I checked in my bag with Swiss International and we weighed Bill’s; I'd loaded him down with Läderach chocolate to take home (ordered from their online outlet and mailed to our Luzern Air BNB before the online outlet closed permanently).

He’d also be taking home some of my hiking gear and a few things not needed for Spain, with the hope of lightening my suitcase, and leaving some room for whatever I might procure in Spain.

We then sought out lunch for Bill; him happy to find an Indian joint in the airport food hall - Chicken Tikka with rice, naan and papadam for 23 chf. He figured out which bus to take from the airport to near the Welcome Inn, his digs for the night, via the SBB app, which we love and have become quite adept at using (2.30 chf). Then we parted ways.

Check-in and security were a breeze. Soon I was noshing on some lunch of my own in the Swiss Lounge.

My 90 minute flight left on time and was full, but blissfully smooth. And the best part? The chocolate bar that Swiss hands out to its passengers.

I arrived in Barcelona’s Terminal 1 just after 7 pm. I bought a ticket for the Aerobus (from a manned table set up right in front of the bus, 5.90) and was on my way to Gran Via - Urgell, the second stop on the bus route, where I was greeted by Donna, who led the way to the Air BNB we’d booked.

Note: Masks are still required on public transport and taxis in Spain

Unlike the apartment we’d booked in 2020 a stone’s throw from La Sagrada Familia, this one was located in Eixample, which would prove to be more challenging than we expected.

The apartment is located in a residential area that looked a bit down and out at first glimpse, but the apartment itself was nice. The owners are a bit stringent, imposing extra fees for a myriad of infractions including surcharges for arrivals after 8 pm, a fee of €120 if locked out, a fee of €350 if one loses a key, a fee of €25 if one fails to wash the kitchen dishes and utensils or not take out the trash and recycling, etc.

This was our most expensive Air BNB of the trip at $1,185.51 (five nights, two bedroom, two bath) and also had the most rules. It was comfortable, but noisy, which would become a theme over the next two weeks.

I got settled and then we went out for a drink and a snack to celebrate our return to Spain. Most places in the area were full (Saturday night), and we didn’t want to wander too far in the dark in an unfamiliar area, so we randomly chose an unassuming, deserted café, and grabbed a table outside for a dinner of champions, las patatas fritas (French fries) and two rounds of G&Ts (38), served with lemon instead of the lime we requested (a recurring theme).

Whether due to the gin, the unfamiliar surroundings, or my nemesis Google Maps, we got turned around and had to stop at a hotel to ask for directions back to the Air BNB.

To be continued...

Last edited by Melnq8; Nov 22nd, 2022 at 12:11 PM.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 12:36 PM
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Oct 23 -

Donna had warned me that Barcelona was unexpectedly hot and humid, the emphasis on humid from my humidity despising friend. The fleece jacket I’d worn almost daily in Switzerland was rehomed in my suitcase and not retrieved until our last few days in Madrid.

Today's priority was St Pau Recinte Modernista as we’d missed it in 2020 when we had to flee the country. I’d looked into booking a guided tour (we’d booked one in 2020), but unfortunately, they no longer offer tours in English.

We sought out breakfast at a little coffee shop down the street from us (Granier). A ham and cheese (bikini) croissant with a cup of Café con leche (3.50 each). The biggest challenge in this very busy café was figuring out how to put our money into the automated cashier. We had to wait for an employee to ring up the order and tell us it was okay to put in our money. A first for both of us.

I’m an avid walker and user of public transportation, but Donna isn’t, so I knew we’d probably be using taxis more often than not during this trip. We’d done the same in 2020, and it served us well, especially as COVID ran rampant. As such, I’d not bothered to work out the details of the Metro (other than for our planned trip to Monserrat which never happened).

We found a taxi stand and took a taxi (€14) to St Pau Recinte Modernista (€16 entry plus €4 for the audio guide for me, €11.20 plus €4 for the audio guide for Donna - senior discount). We’d not booked in advance, just rocked up and bought tickets on the fly.

We spent about three hours exploring this fascinating place. The grounds are massive. We both thoroughly enjoyed it.


St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

St Pau Recinte Modernista

Afterwards, hot, sticky, and in desperate need of a cold beverage, we walked across the street to Burger King and tried to purchase a drink through their automated system, to no avail. The place was crowded and hot, so I suggested we find a cool place where we could sit down and have a proper beverage (Melspeak for ‘in a glass’).

We ended up at E1 Plato Rico, just around the corner (which I’ve just now discovered gets excellent reviews for their food), where we were assured Donna could get a Coke Zero with ice (a must for ice loving Donna), and I could have sparkling water (4.20).

A smile and a laugh goes a long way when one doesn’t know the language (that would be me, Donna knows some Spanish, but not Catalan), and the waiter was kind enough to walk us through their entire set lunch menu. We were tempted, but decided to head to Tosca instead, a place we’d discovered in 2020 and had thoroughly enjoyed.

I was starving (another recurring theme this trip), so we took a taxi to Tosca Palau (10), which is situated directly opposite the Palau de la Musica. Our female taxi driver stopped at one point and rattled off something we didn't understand. I think she was confused on where we wanted to go. So we showed her the name and address from Donna’s phone again and she eventually dropped us off across the street from Tosca (another recurring theme, confused taxi drivers).

There was a large group of people gathered in front of the restaurant and we were afraid that maybe they were fully booked, but the majority of them were just trying to get photographs of the Palau de la Musica.

We found a table in the busy restaurant and settled in for a long leisurely lunch, including a couple of very refreshing G&Ts (with actual lime! Heat + humidity = copious G&Ts). We shared four tapas, three of them excellent (empanadas filled with caramelized onion, walnuts, goat cheese and mozzarella, montaditos with Brie, tomato marmalade and roasted almonds, and goat cheese salad), the pastas bravas underwhelming (€58.20).


Tosca Palau

Tosca Palau

Tosca Palau

Afterwards we wandered aimlessly, soon finding ourselves in the Gothic Quarter and near the Catedral de Barcelona. There was a huge group of people gathered near the cathedral; some sort of street performance was underway.

I dislike crowds immensely, so I hung out on the sidelines while Donna tried to watch some of the performance, but it proved too crowded to see much.

Visiting the cathedral was on Donna’s wish list, but we were tired, so we just walked around inside the atrium of the church (home to several geese), accompanied by droves of other people. While I found the exterior of the church fascinating, the atrium was a disappointment.

We then moved on, wandering some more, surprised at the sheer number of people, a stark contrast from our visit in 2020. We popped into a few shops in the Gothic Quarter, purchased some nougat (later discovering it was made in France) and eyeballed some tempting cupcakes, but giving them as pass as we knew they’d melt before we got them back to the apartment.


Wandering

Gothic Quarter

We eventually hailed another taxi (€10) and returned to the apartment to shower and cool off. We’d been out for almost 10 hours.

To be continued...

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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 12:54 PM
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That’s a busy start to a holiday! Glad it worked out and 2020 is just a distant unpleasant memory.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 02:30 PM
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Great start, happy to hear the trip happened and it seems it was a success. Can't wait for the Seville, Granada, Madrid part, we're going next year!
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 02:41 PM
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I am enjoying your report and beautiful photos. I will have to add St. Pau to my never-ending list of places to go.
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Old Nov 22nd, 2022, 05:49 PM
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Gosh, I remember your report from that trip! Glad you made it back!
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 09:16 AM
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on for the ride
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Old Nov 23rd, 2022, 12:12 PM
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We visited Barcelona in 2010 but we didn't visit St. Pau. Wow!!! It looks spectacular!
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Old Nov 24th, 2022, 09:38 AM
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Oct 24 –

After another breakfast of bikinis at Grainer (failing to ask for croissants we got white bread instead, oops) and Café con leche, we caught a taxi to Santa Maria del Mar, a church in the Ribera district (El Born neighborhood) built between 1329 and 1383. Admission is €5, plus an additional €5 for the towers, which I opted to do (Donna passed).

Access to the towers involves climbing 121 steps (I counted) up a tight spiral staircase, and affords some nice views of the surrounding area and the roof terraces of the homes below. I was the only person up there.


Santa Maria del Mar

Tower, Santa Maria del Mar

Views from tower of Santa Maria del Mar

Views from tower of Santa Maria del Mar

Staircase to tower, Santa Maria del Mar

I found the church interesting; a small area was blocked off due to construction within the interior, but it didn’t detract from our visit.


Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar

Santa Maria del Mar


Afterwards we walked to the Gothic Quarter to visit the interior of the Catedral de Barcelona, which dates from the 1200s and is considered the greatest example of Catalonian Gothic architecture.

Unfortunately, our journey wasn’t straightforward, as Google Maps sent us on a wild goose chase (another recurring theme).

Entry here is €9, which includes the towers, but there was a very long slow moving line, so I took a pass. There were a lot more people here than in Santa Maria del Mar, and for me, while interesting enough, nothing really stood out.

Perhaps it was the wrought iron fencing surrounding the statues and displays which hindered viewing, or that many displays were completely blocked off due to construction. Workers were inside the church, making a lot of noise; at one point I thought we were hearing fire alarms, but no one seemed concerned.

It was all pretty distracting and made it difficult to thoroughly enjoy the church.


Catedral de Barcelona

Catedral de Barcelona

Catedral de Barcelona

Construction, Catedral de Barcelona

We then decided to seek out the Mercato Santa Catarina, and the kitchens of St Catherine, which I’d read was a good place for lunch. Google Maps was determined to torture us, consistently letting us down and leading us in circles. I popped into an information office as we passed and learned it was just around the corner. But of course!

Once there, neither of us was particularly impressed with the market; being hot, sticky and cranky didn’t help matters one iota.

We just wanted a cold drink and to sit down for a bit.

It felt like the whole city of Barcelona was under construction. Everywhere we went sidewalks were torn up; it was an obstacle course, we couldn’t walk a single block without having to dodge a construction area. Most crosswalks were closed and taped off, abandoned construction equipment littered the streets and yet nothing seemed to be happening.

That, coupled with the pervasive smell of sewage made me wonder if they were replacing their entire underground pipe system.

We stopped at a tiny café for a cold drink, and then hailed a taxi and asked the driver to take us to La Rita for lunch (another find from 2020, €11 euro for taxi).

The driver chose to drive alongside busy Las Ramblas (or is it La Rambla?), where traffic was at a standstill. We’re not sure if he was giving us a tour, avoiding roadwork, or trying to up the fare, but his path didn’t align with the one on Donna’s phone (not that we trusted it, mind you).

Regardless, traffic was awful and we were shocked at the number of people on this stretch of tourist central. Such a contrast to the Las Ramblas we saw in 2020. It was a sea of humanity and I had to wonder if this was low season what high season looked like.

Donna had wanted to revisit Mercado de La Boqueria on Las Ramblas, because we’d enjoyed it so much last time, but having just consumed a dick waffle, we hadn’t been hungry enough to have a meal there. But after seeing the mob scene today, we decided against it.

The driver drove around for a while and then stopped and pointed to an area hidden by buildings, which we took to mean that we needed to walk in that direction. I assumed he couldn’t get closer due to the roadwork, but I now think he had no idea where La Rita was.

So far, the taxi drivers in Barcelona didn’t seem to want to take us to where we wanted to go…or they couldn’t due to the construction…or they were also using Google Maps, which had proven to be useless as far as we were concerned.

We wandered around in circles for a while; both of us having trouble finding the place with our respective phones and @#$# Google Maps. We FINALLY found La Rita, and with it a long line of people outside.

Well #$%&. It was 2:30, hot and humid (89 F). We didn’t want to stand in the sticky heat only to have them close before we could get a seat, so we bailed.

We wandered around looking at menus and trying to find a restaurant with air conditioning, which was harder than you might think. We stepped into one or two and found a seat, only to leave because it was so hot inside. How the workers could stand it is beyond me.

We finally settled on Txapela, a tapas restaurant with air conditioning and quite a few customers, which we took as a good sign. We ordered a pitcher of sangria and then were completely abandoned by the wait staff. We eventually flagged someone down and ordered an assortment of tapas, none of which knocked our socks off (€42 total).


Txapela

Txapela

After lunch we tried to locate a churro shop using…you guessed it…Google Maps. Once again it led us in circles.

But, we did pass some interesting buildings, and a long queue of people, which I asked our taxi driver about later; turns out they were parents lined up to collect their kids from school.



Wandering

Wandering

Wandering

Wandering

Wandering

Wandering

Parents waiting to pick up their kids from school


Wandering

Hot and cranky, we finally gave up and took a taxi back to the apartment (€10). Our taxi driver told us that the heat was unusual for this time of year and the larger than usual number of tourists was probably due to travelers catching up after the COVID closures, which we’d suspected as well.

Back in our neighborhood we sought out a grocery store for gin, tonic and limes and retreated to the apartment to cool off. It had been a frustrating day.

To be continued...

Last edited by Melnq8; Nov 24th, 2022 at 09:46 AM.
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Old Nov 24th, 2022, 09:59 AM
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Mel, you are reminding me of our one and only visit to Barcelona about 15 years ago when it was very hot and crowded; my abiding memory is of the appalling blisters I got from all the walking around we did. We enjoyed it but it's not my favourite city to visit and by the sound of it it's not yours!

Still looking forward to more and hoping you find better food and aircon!
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Old Nov 24th, 2022, 10:00 AM
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annhig - no, not my favorite, but I did love Seville.

And I just noticed - in the photo of the parents, many are wearing long sleeves. What the ???
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 03:50 AM
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time and again, the best way to enjoy European cities is on foot in sensible shoes, taxis really don't cut it. Still I'm sorry they are rebuilding the place that can make for a frustrating holiday. The whole of Europe has had a very hot autumn as Climate Change just gets worse and worse.
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 06:07 AM
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I wholeheartedly agree with you bilbo, and that's exactly how I usually do it, but I wasn't the only person on this trip.
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 11:51 AM
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The crowds and the heat after cool, quiet Switzerland must have been quite the contrast, plus I’m guessing travelling with a friend adds complexities? It looks wonderful, though, the architecture is stunning.
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 12:28 PM
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Oct 25 -

We’d planned on visiting Monserrat, and I’d worked out all the details, but 1) Donna wanted to see the beach since we’d missed it last time, 2) Despite several e-mails I’d not been able to determine if the Boys Choir was singing or not and how to obtain tickets (free), and 3) it was so crowded in Barcelona that we worried Monserrat would be a zoo.

Donna was craving a hot breakfast so we walked around our neighborhood trying to find one. We ended up at Belliny Brunch. Let’s just say we should have stuck with croissant bikinis at Grainer. The service was good, the food, not-so-much, although I think Donna enjoyed hers more than I did mine (€28.70).

We then took a taxi to the Columbus monument at the lower end of La Rambla (€10) and walked across La Rambla de Mar, a suspension bridge with a wavy pattern, which I’ve since read is meant to symbolize the connection of the city with the Mediterranean. Lots of people were out on this warm, but beautiful - and thankfully - less humid day. I was surprised to see a large mall at the end of the bridge. We went inside to seek out a loo, and I felt like I’d strolled into a mall in the US.


Views from La Rambla de Mar

Views from La Rambla de Mar

Views from La Rambla de Mar

Views from La Rambla de Mar

We then retraced our steps and walked along the waterfront hoping to find a beach so Donna could stick her toes into the Mediterranean.

We never did find the beach (there are 4.2 km of beaches 10 minutes from the city center, but we failed to find them twice now), but we did find some interesting sculptures on the boardwalk, a massive sailboat near Port Vell, the tobacco factory, Parc de la Ciutadella, and the Arc de Triomphe from where we caught a taxi to Tosca del Carme, hoping it would be less busy than Tosca Palau had been.


Wandering along the waterfront

Wandering along the waterfront

Wandering along the waterfront

Near Arc de Triomphe

Arc de Triomphe


Here we tucked into another lovely lunch of tapas; repeating the three tapas we’d liked at Tosca Palau, and adding a “mini” vegetarian lasagna that was anything but mini (€40.80 with one G&T, one Coke Zero and a liter of water, delicious.)


Tosca del Carme - ask for extra limes and you shall receive them!

Tosca del Carme

We decided to take one last stab at finding churros, but Google Maps let us down yet again and we ended up walking through a labyrinth of back alleyways. We eventually found a street that we hoped would lead us to Las Ramblas, but my fine map reading skills just led us deeper and deeper into an area that freaked Donna out a bit and reminded me of my time in the Middle East.



Lost in the alleyways of Barcelona

After much wandering, we stumbled upon the market that Donna had been looking for the first day she arrived in Barcelona (St Antoni), but it was mostly meat and fish vendors, and not of much interest to us, although Donna did pick up some tomato jam.

We then stumbled upon a Lidl, whose large concrete basement entrance doubled as a rehearsal area for what appeared to be various street performers.

Thoroughly worn out, we finally caught another taxi back to our apartment, not realizing we were only four blocks away! Evidently we’d made a big circle (€3.15)

To be continued...
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 12:56 PM
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Oh ha. Sorry the day didn't end up as you'd planned, but I'm still enjoying the trip!
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 01:58 PM
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Some days are just like that PegS
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Old Nov 25th, 2022, 02:07 PM
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Oct 26 -

I was up at five, Donna shortly thereafter, not earning me any points with my absolutely-not-a-morning person friend.

I took the trash and recycling out in the dark, but couldn’t find a bin for recycling, so our separating was all for naught.

Today we were headed to Seville, one of the hottest cities in Europe, during an unusually warm October. Oh boy, this should be fun.

I’d booked our train tickets when they first became available in September; Renfe AVE high speed train, Elige Comfort tickets with Comfort Seats, no meals, €132.25 each, a journey of 5.5 hours.

We'd left plenty of time as we both had very limited experience with train travel in Spain and didn’t quite know what to expect. We took a taxi to Barcelona Sants train station (€5.85), which was closer than I’d realized. I swear, two visits to Barcelona and I’m still as confused as ever.

We were also confused about our tickets, so we asked a train station worker if Plaza 5c was our platform, and if so, why my number was different than Donna’s.

We were told yes, go to Platform 5. So, after clearing security, we waited for a while at Platform 5, but something felt off, the train display monitor didn’t refer to Platform 5, so I decided to verify with a man looking at tickets for another train. He told me to go to Platform 1, as Plaza 5 referred to our seats, not the platform. Ah, mystery solved.

I worried we’d have to clear security again, but we were able to get to the correct boarding area by winding our way through some cordoned areas. We found the queue for our train and stood there for 45 minutes before being allowed down to the platform.

Note: As someone who often travels via train and bus in Switzerland, Austria and Germany, I found the train situation in Spain a bit onerous. I was surprised to discover that train passengers in Spain turn up and queue as much as an hour in advance, and that one must clear security, passing luggage and bags through an x-ray machine, even on short journeys within the country. I have nothing against security, I’ve just not experienced x-ray machines at train stations before. (I don’t remember having to do this in Barcelona in 2020, but we had to leave in such a hurry that it’s a blur).

Other than our train leaving on time and arriving so early that Donna didn’t believe me when I told her we needed to get off, and our comfortable, roomy seats, I wasn’t overly impressed. The bathrooms stunk, and the blue chemical they use instead of water got all over the seat back and floors when flushed; they were pretty dire after five hours. The air conditioning worked intermittently, and the train didn’t feel particularly clean.

But those ~828 km went by in a flash, literally. We watched the air temperature rise and fall and then rise again as we made our way towards Seville, arriving ahead of schedule at 2 pm to a temperature of 28c (82F).

After getting our bearings and a cold bottle of water at a café in the train station, we caught a taxi to our apartment (8).

We’d booked a two bedroom, two bathroom Air BNB in the neighborhood of San Bartolomé ($770.52 for four nights). I really liked this apartment, and it proved to be very central…once we figured things out. Our host had sent us a long list of things to see and do, and she checked in with us via the Air BNB app several times during our stay, even the day before her wedding. Now that’s dedication!

After getting settled we headed out to explore, having no map, and no idea of where we were going. We wandered the labyrinth of winding narrow streets, me loving it, Donna saying it made her feel claustrophobic.

We had some ice cream near Plaza Del Salavador, found a tourist office, picked up a map and got some tips. We’d also asked for directions to a grocery store, where I bought coffee and milk while Donna - who’d stayed below while I walked up a street to find the store - sent me a text telling me I was nowhere near it, lol.

Seville was hot and sticky just like Barcelona, but I fell in love with Seville the minute I got there.

We wandered, took photos and discussed food options. A guy passing overheard us discussing where to go for tapas, and gave us directions to one of his favorite spots, sending us on a wild goose chase through the maze of Seville. We popped into a shop to get further directions, and were sent on an even wilder goose chase. We eventually ended up near Las Setas, which was crawling with tourists and nowhere near said restaurant. Argh.



Atrium of our Air BNB

Wandering through Seville

Wandering through Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

Seville

Las Setas

Seville

Hot, tired and frustrated, we caught a taxi back to the apartment to regroup, not realizing how close it was.

We went out later to try again, me vowing to stop at the first place we found for fear I’d pass out from hunger, scoring a table at Petra, which had been shuttered the first time we passed, so we hadn’t even noticed it. Most of the tables were booked, so we felt pretty lucky.

We each had a glass of sangria and shared three lovely tapas, rollitos de calabacin (zucchini rolls), tartar remolacha (beetroot tartare), and tosta queso camembert (toast with camebert), €29.70.



Tapas at Petra

Tapas at Petra

Tapas at Petra

We heard a lot of English speakers here, and were surprised to see a note in English at the bottom of our receipt suggesting a tip of €5, €10 or €15, which we found a bit off-putting.

This was also our first encounter with a pan/bread charge on our bill, in this case €1.20 each. We’d been brought some bread and a packet of crackers shaped like mini baguettes that we hadn’t ordered (a recurring theme in Seville), not realizing we’d be charged for them. We didn’t say anything, just paid the bill and shrugged it off. I’ve since read an article that states this practice is illegal in Andalucía.

https://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilleta...rvice-charges/

To be continued...
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Old Nov 26th, 2022, 09:20 AM
  #19  
 
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<<We never did find the beach (there are 4.2 km of beaches 10 minutes from the city center, but we failed to find them twice now), but we did find some interesting sculptures on the boardwalk, a massive sailboat near Port Vell, the tobacco factory, Parc de la Ciutadella, and the Arc de Triomphe from where we caught a taxi to Tosca del Carme, hoping it would be less busy than Tosca Palau had been.>>

Mel, no help to you now but there is definitely a beach within YOUR walking distance [not necessarily your companion's!] as we both found it and swam in the sea from it. I believe that it's an artificial beach built for Barcelona olympics, so a rather poor thing, but probably enough for your friend had you been able to locate it. As for getting turned round all the time, i agree that both Barcelona and Seville can be very confusing but in such situations I find the map App on my phone invaluable, especially when trying to work out how far from base I am. Also another very helpful app is the Fork, which can show you restaurants in your area and often has discounts too if you book in advance, even if by a few minutes. I have often used it whilst in Spain to find a nearby restaurant especially for lunch when I'm in an area I don't know and am too hungry to explore.
annhig is offline  
Old Nov 26th, 2022, 09:59 AM
  #20  
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Join Date: Jan 2003
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annhig - I figured as much, but Donna's interest had waned, so we didn't pursue it. Was it Barceloneta by chance?

I used the Fork in Portugal a few times last spring - not for directions, but for bookings. Will keep that in mind as well.

I definitely need to find a new map app. Goggle Maps works fine in my car, but for some reason it loses its mind when walking (in Portugal and Spain anyway).
Melnq8 is offline  

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