Granada to Seville: October 4

We left Granada on the 11:15 train for a three-hour journey to Seville. My cold had advanced to the major stuffed up stage so I wasn’t paying much attention to the miles and miles more of olive trees we passed while listening to assorted Aussie conversations in the seats around us. We’ve run into lots of Aussies on this trip—as always, they are intrepid travelers! We’ve met only a very few Americans and almost no Canadians. The vast majority of travelers are Europeans—mostly Italians, French, and Spanish with the odd smattering of Germans (fewer than we’d have thought).

In Seville, we caught a cab to our hotel—another atmospheric one nestled deep in the old Santa Cruz barrio neighborhood near the cathedral. Yet again, we were glad we weren’t driving! Even the cab driver had trouble negotiating the very narrow streets full of cobbles and tourists. The Hotel Amadeus is, not surprisingly, obsessed with classical music. Instruments including a harp, violins, cellos, and several pianos are scattered throughout the common rooms. Guests are welcome to play them. I made a beeline for the piano nearest our room but all the music available was a collection of Spanish folk songs that was beyond my sight reading powers—at least in public when someone might be listening.

Entrance to the Hotel Amadeus
Main lobby of the hotel – grand piano in one corner; harp in another corner

Tiny side street where the hotel was located; even taxis couldn’t get down it

We wandered out of the hotel down to the extensive public gardens that stretched toward the river and then walked along the river for awhile, enjoying the warmth of the evening. A few well chosen tapas at an outdoor café near the hotel followed by a short rest and then it was time for dinner. Yes, traveling is tough but someone has to do it.

After just a few hours in Seville, we were quite smitten. It feels much more relaxed than Granada—more southern and also a trifle more maritime. A few centuries ago, Seville was a port and it is on a river. The damper air agrees more with my island-honed lungs than did the bone dry air of the interior (particularly Madrid!).

Seville Cathedral

The next morning, we chose to have a very relaxed day in Seville preparatory to going out for yet another evening of flamenco (we’re hooked!). In the morning we walked to the bus station and bought our tickets to Tavira in Portugal, then wandered around looking for a good strong light for me.

After over two weeks of dimly lit hotel rooms and apartments, I could take it no longer! I must have light—particularly for those times when I have to get some work done. I’m sure some of my headaches were due as much to low light as to the head cold. Anyway, we bought a very fetching lamp—Kelly green and beautifully designed—that of course weighs a ton. But I can see—and that’s worth a lot of arm wrenching.

Gregg spent most of the afternoon up on the rooftop terrace drawing and I wandered the tiny cobbled streets looking at tacky souvenirs and thoroughly enjoying myself. Seville is very enticing.

Gregg drawing on the rooftop terrace of the hotel – Seville Cathedral in the distance

One of many, many tacky souvenir shops in the narrow streets near our hotel

We sallied forth in the early evening for our 8 pm date with Los Gallos flamenco show. Although at first the club seemed like it would be a bit of a flamenco mill that brings in the tourists, sits them down, and gives them all one drink each, the performance proved otherwise.

This, our third evening of flamenco, was different again from the other two—and perhaps even more riveting if that could be possible. Three male singers, one female singer, three guitarists, three female dancers, and two male dancers presented number after number in various combinations that had everyone in the place breathless with awe. On one number, one of the guitar players – an angelic looking young man who couldn’t have been more than 25 – sat alone at center stage and presented a solo performance that put the oo in swoon. He did things with his ten fingers that no human should be capable of. I can’t even manage right-left hand independence. He had ten finger independence. Each finger appeared to be playing a different pattern and rhythm simultaneously.

Each of the three female dancers was completely different—and all did several solos. The first was quite young and very beautiful with the classic hourglass figure and black hair. She danced almost sweetly, still pounding the floor at times but generally leaving an impression of sheer loveliness. The second was much more fiery with a haughty look and shotgun feet that expressed a real roughness. Her performance was not at all sweet, but it certainly was powerful. The third female dancer was my favorite. She had to be well into her fifties but she was still incredibly strong and soulful. She positively exuded experience with many of her movements almost jerky and violent. She was not to be messed with!

Of the two male dancers, the second was obviously the star. Unlike any of the other male dancers we’ve seen, he was incredibly tall – probably well over 6’ 8” with massive hands and long, long legs. He performed some solos with no music or singing to accompany him. It was just his body and his feet keeping the entire audience on edge.

One of the things we enjoyed the most was watching the interactions between the dancers and the singers and musicians. Much of the performances were obviously improvised—the dancers were inspired by what the singers were singing about who in turn were inspired by the guitarists who in turn were intently watching and reacting to the footwork of the dancers. I had not realized that flamenco consisted of all three elements—singers, dancers, and musicians. I guess I thought it was just dancing with accompaniment. Not so!

At the end, the entire ensemble came out and each dancer took turns improvising. The audience was finally allowed to take pictures so with the light bulbs flashing and the heels hammering and the hands of the dancers and singers clapping, the entire effect was mesmerizing.

One of the singers claps while watching the dancers

The star of the show

Three of the dancers; my favorite was the older one in the middle

The ensemble in full flamenco flight

We exited on a high, vowing to return to Seville every chance we get to take in more flamenco shows!
And so our day in Seville ends with some tapas at a local outdoor café and a romantic stroll through the cobbled streets to the hotel. Even with my severe head cold, I was entranced!

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