March 27, 2022
Gordon: We got off to a slow start from Victoria. Our plane had a minor bird strike as it arrived, necessitating an inspection before our departure. This delay meant we would miss our connecting flights, but Air Canada quickly and seamlessly rebooked us through Paris rather than Frankfurt. Baguettes and pain au chocolate for lunch rather than sausages. We never did get a report on the condition of the bird.
In the Victoria airport there was another passenger with a large daypack also trying to get to Seville. As we guessed he was another pilgrim doing the Via de la Plata. His name is Brent and he was already familiar with Ruth through the Plata Facebook page. We eventually shared a taxi from the airport in Seville, and later a tapas night.
Seville has had an unusually cool and wet Spring. On our descent into the airport we could clearly see excess water everywhere. We did have a couple of showery days, but the weather has now changed to be mostly fine.
Seville has been a delight to visit. We are staying in the “monuments district”, a portion of the medieval city with winding interlaced streets, buildings from a variety of historic periods, and a number of parks. Many of the streets are planted with orange trees, which are currently in bloom, as well as hanging with fruit. The delightful scent of orange blossoms is ubiquitous. In the larger parks there are noisy flocks of parakeets, introduced from South America, but apparently quite happy in the Andalusian climate.
We have visited some of the monuments that have given Seville its UNESCO status. The 15th century Gothic cathedral is the largest in the world (St. Peter’s in Rome is not technically a cathedral, but rather a basilica). Legend has it that when the city was deliberating over the design of the cathedral they decided “Let’s construct a church so large future generations will think we were mad.” While the cathedral may lack the design harmony of one of the great French cathedrals, it is impressive, and it houses some notable art treasures. The cathedral also contains the tomb of Christopher Columbus. His bones were moved around the Caribbean for a while, but were eventually incorporated into an attractive sculpture of a sarcophagus carried by four kings.
Seville was a Moslem city until the reconquista reached it in 1248. There remain many reminders of the 500 years that it was ruled by a series of Moslem dynasties, including the bell tower of the cathedral (a repurposed minaret), and much of the Alcazar, the royal palace.
Last night we went out for a tapas dinner with Brent, the pilgrim, and Gerald, the author of our guide to the Via de la Plata. We had a delicious and varied meal at one of the myriad tapas bars. Unlike cold and old Victoria, Seville seems to live in its streets. It seemed like half of the population of the city was out last night, eating, drinking and socializing. The climate helps, but how do you create such a vibrant and social culture?
We have assembled Ruth’s bike and we are ready to set off on our Camino tomorrow morning. I would, however, happily return to visit Seville on another occasion, possibly for an extended period.