As soon as we landed, we noticed three things about Seville and maybe most of Andalusia: flat, hot and dry. Once we were into the town, we came face to face the reality that really sets Spain — and, I suspect, much of the Spanish-speaking world apart — the siesta. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens between 2 pm and 5 pm except eating and drinking. Then it’s back to work until 9 pm or so, which means that dinner is simply impossible until 8.30 and really doesn’t get going until later. While we could see this to an extent in Barcelona, it is a pretty international city; but Seville is deep in Spain and very much away from the evil, work-obsessed characteristics of Northern Europe.

Once again, we are fortunate in the apartment, and Paula is very pleased with her choice of WayToStay! We are just outside the old city walls, which means a 15 minute walk into the main centre of the old town, but only ten minutes from the station, which will suit us very well for our day trips. Cooking is not on the agenda, maybe, but breakfast certainly it — a nice change from a month of hotel and pension breakfasts of varying quality.

Seville itself is quite different from Barcelona, not least in the length of the siesta! Paula and I went for a walk in the afternoon, and we quickly realised that the whole town had shut down until five, except for the bars and cafés, of which there were more than you could imagine, and that this behaviour was perfectly sensible as even in October, it was stinking hot! A two hour reconnaissance left us ready for dinner, but you couldn’t even imagine such a meal in Spain until 8.30! Anyway, we found a suitable venue and were there promptly, only to find that we were the only ones in a highly regarded established with great food! As we were finishing up, the restaurant started to fill. We obviously need to work harder on cultural adaptation, and heaven help me on the Camino.

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Thursday found us ready for a bike trip, which we thought would be right up everyone’s alley as the bikes had electric motors as a boost. in spite of a great guide, who was Dutch with a Javanese grandmother of all things, Paula found it to be a bit of a challenge, because once started, the bike behaved like a motor scooter and could be a little unpredictable; so she decided to turn the motor off and pedal all the way. Maybe we should have just asked for ordinary bikes!

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Our initial impressions had all been of the area around the Cathedral, but with Nick guiding, we were able to explore a lot more of the Southern end of the town, including the parks and gardens around the river. In talking to him and his partner, it became pretty clear the there was no way that we were going to be able to see it all during the afternoon, but we got a great recommendation for a flamenco show that we were assured would not be a tourist attraction (out of tune guitars and rubber chicken) and an itinerary that would keep us busy.

The area around the Exhibition Palace was quite amazing and we could have spent hours there. Oh well. Another excuse to come back.

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The afternoon was fantastic as we walked around various bits of the town, including the area around Plaza Nueva which has all the shops, a walk through the Cathedral, and climbing the steep ramp of the Giralda, the minaret of the mosque which was here and is now the bell tower. The ramp is there because apparently the muezzins would have a donkey to carry them up to the various balconies from which to call the faithful to prayer.

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Of course, the highlight is the tomb of Columbus, which is a unique monument in anyone’s visual language.

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Our day finished with flamenco, which was for real. I have no background against which to make a judgement, and a little goes a long way when you don’t have the language (musical and verbal), but we were amazed at the energy, the artistry and the fact that the male dancer spent the whole time looking as if he were auditioning for the cover of a romance novel, while the — absolutely brilliant — female dancer, who smiled when she wasn’t dancing, looked like she was locked in permanent PMT as soon as her feet hit the floor!

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Tomorrow marks an early start for Cordoba.