Day 5 was reserved for exploring Seville more thoroughly, since we were only here for about 36 hours last year. The only problem turned out to be the weather – the high was 103! Luckily, there were only a few things we truly had our hearts set on, so we took advantage of the cooler temperatures in the morning to explore the Maria Luisa Park, which surrounds the Plaza de Espana, truly one of the most beautiful spots I have ever seen. It was nice to walk around the Plaza again, but it was also nice to explore the park – the landscaping is really beautiful, with lots of different flowers and trees and fountains… We also saw the archaeological museum, though it was unfortunately closed (we’ll check it out tomorrow).
Once it got too hot to wander around, we went to the General Archive of the Indies, which houses almost all the information collected from Spain’s Age of Exploration. We were hoping to see some maps from that time period, maybe some navigational instruments or letters…but there wasn’t really anything on display (luckily entrance is free). It was, however, an air conditioned building, and there was also a nice informational video about the building and how it came to house all those important documents. It is used now primarily as a research facility, though apparently the staff do sometimes organize special exhibits. It made me wonder if there was any effort to research and/or preserve native South American cultures, but the emphasis was definitely on how influential Spain was during the Age of Exploration.
After the Archive, we walked over to see a wealthy private home from the 1500s. Apparently there are several that you can tour, by we chose La Casa de Pilatos mostly because it was close to our hotel. The house is stunning – elaborate tile work, a large atrium/patio with a fountain, and tons of Roman sculpture. Apparently this family was ahead of the trend with the collection of antiquities – there is even a legend that one member took Trajan’s ashes from the base of his column in Rome and brought them “back” to Seville (Trajan was from Italica, an ancient city nearby which we will be visiting tomorrow!), but his maid thought the urn was full of trash so she dumped it out into the garden. Oops.
I will say that the extreme heat and the overly complicated language of the audio guide made it difficult if us to truly get the most out of the visit; it took so much energy to try to interpret the weirdly worded audio guide that I mostly just found myself staring blankly into space. We both did enjoy walking through the rooms and gardens, though, so the house is absolutely worth a visit.
Our very late lunch was had at El Pinton, another restaurant we tried last year. We had a spinach salad with anchovies and pomegranate, Peruvian cerviche, and mushroom risotto (as I said to Chris at lunch today: “If I don’t have Italian food every few days or so, I’ll shrivel up and die.”). Everything was excellent, if a bit pricey, though honestly it was almost worth it to sit in the air conditioning for an hour or so.
After lunch, we had a nice siesta at the hotel – Chris needed to do some work and I was happy to lie down. Suddenly it was 8:00 and we realized we needed food, so we ran out for a quick bite of pizza from a nearby chain. Nothing fancy, and sometimes it’s nice to get something quick and cheap (mostly importantly, cheap).
While our day wasn’t perfect – the heat really drained our energy more than we anticipated – I definitely enjoyed getting to know Seville better. As wth Malaga, I found the city to be beautiful and full of interesting history. The delicious food doesn’t hurt either! And it’s funny because I distinctly remember last year saying that I was unimpressed by Spanish cuisine, though I’m thinking now that that was specifically about food we had in Granada, which I definitely remember being less than stellar. Almost all the meals we’ve had over the last five days have been excellent, so I’m excited to see what Barcelona has to offer.
That’s our next stop! Day 6 will see us driving to Italica in the morning then flying to Barcelona in the evening. It will be a pretty packed day – stay tuned!