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Iberian Adventure:
I'm Not a Barber, But I Am in Seville
(Dispatch #12)

Story and photos by Tom Weber

ercules, the mythical, muscular hero and mortal son of the Greek god Zeus, not to mention a dead ringer for screen actor Steve Reeves, supposedly discovered HER.

The infamous Spanish Inquisition's first auto-da-fé (act of faith by burning at the stake) took place in front of an eager crowd packed into one of HER plaza's.

The late Luciano Pavarotti described HER as "the land of tenors," and more than 100 universal operas spotlight HER as the backdrop for their lyrical storylines.

orange tree on a cobbled street in Seville

HER cobbled calle and avenidas are shaded by more than 30,000, bitter, not sweet, orange trees.

And, 29 travel journalists, the "band of merry media" invited by Insight Vacations (Insight) on it's Iberian Adventure, are about to experience HER.

HER? Who's she?

flamenco dancers in Seville

Seville, the capital city of Andalusia. Home to Bizet's fiery gypsy Carmen and Rossini's do-everything barber Figaro. Where the sun always seems to shine and the sound of rhythmic stamping of flamenco dancers feet on hardwood floors never tires. And, where mouth-watering tapas, hanging jamones and pescaito frito (fried fish) await you inside crowded, tourist-friendly neighborhood bars.

Lidia, Insight's local art historian and Seville native

Straight off the motor coach parked near Puerta de la Carne, one of the ancient entryways into old town Seville, we're greeted with a warm ¡Hola! from a smiling Lidia, Insight's local art historian and homegrown sevillana. As she points out, "The quickest way to wrap your arms around Seville is by tasting her traditional foods."

So, this being mid-to-late afternoon, we go native and pull up chairs under the large canopies of Restaurante El 3 de Oro's calenteria along the Antigua Calle del Ritiro for a classic merienda (snack).

Restaurante El 3 de Oro in Seville; churros at the Restaurante 
          El 3 de Oro

We're here to savor churros – deep-fried, loop-shaped, sugarcoated fluted dough – dipped into cups of doubly thick hot chocolate. Mmmmm.

walking along an alleyway of the Barrio de Santa Cruz

Calorie laden with a pretty good sugar buzz, we grip our DSLRs, point-and-shoots, smartphones, even a lone iPad, as Lidia guides us through the winding, narrow streets and alleyways of the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the former Jewish quarter tucked away inside this city of 700,000.

historic Barrio de Santa Cruz scenes

With 11 calle and 11 plazas dotting this historic neighborhood, there are loads of atmosphere to capture and plenty of elbowroom for everyone to frame their shots. Or is there?

Lens caps off, you go that-a-way and I'll go this-a-way.

the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, or the Seville Cathedral, Barrio de Santa Cruz, Seville

Home to some of Seville's oldest churches, Barrio de Santa Cruz includes the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, or simply Seville Cathedral, the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and the third largest church on the entire planet.

Built on the site of the former Almohad Mosque, whose minaret is now the converted La Giralda bell tower, the cathedral is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus and is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

sunset at the Barrio de Santa Cruz

Unfortunately, due to the death of María del Rosario Cayetana Fitz-James Stuart y de Silva – Whew! – 18th Duchess of Alba de Tormes, Grandee of Spain, descendant of England's King James II and Spain's richest woman – Double Whew! – Seville Cathedral is closed to the public today, even for we fast-tracked Insight VIPs.

Dejected, we make our way at sunset along the decorative cobble to our awaiting motor coach, parked near Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza along Paseo de Cristóbal Colón, and head for Meliá Sevilla, our four-star, business-class hotel while we're in town.

inside the Restaurante San Marco

After a quick scrub, a change of clothes and a splash of cologne, I'm back outside with the rest of the "band of merry media" as we choose up sides – actually, divide into three squads – as tonight's Dine Around Night, on Insight's euro, to three different restaurants smack dab in the heart of Seville's historic center. Given the choices, I opt to take my dinner inside a former 12th century Moorish bathhouse. No kiddin'.

Packed into three taxis, ten of us caravan back into the Barrio de Santa Cruz and break bread[sticks] at Restaurante San Marco, a Spanish/Italian eatery with Venetian roots. Who would've thunk.

Buen apetito!

dishes at the Restaurante San Marco

Like the "do everything" title character in The Barber of Seville, I've become the "eat everything" character in this Insight epicurean opera. A barber I'm not, but I am in Seville. Aw, what the heck. Hit it, Maestro. FIGARO! FIGARO!

Iberian Adventure brochures from Insight Vacations

For complete information on Insight's 112 premium and luxury-escorted journeys around Europe, including 10 highlighting Portugal and Spain, just click HERE, or call toll free 1-888-680-1241, or contact your travel agent.

inside the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba

See you tomorrow at dawn's early light for a jam-packed itinerary. We'll start off inside the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba and end the day savoring tapas inside Seville's oldest tavern.

Buenas noches.

Related Articles:
Evora's Priced Iberian Ham; The Medieval Village of Monsaraz; Enchanting Évora, Portugal's Laid-Back Museum City; Sampling World-Class Wines at the Alentejo; Cascais and Sintra: To the Edge of the Earth; Framing Lisbon's Mosteiro dos Jerónimos

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Let Tom know what you think about his traveling adventure.

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Feedback for Destination Bosnia: Inside Sarajevo's Tunnel of Hope

Spent time in Sarajevo in the fall of 1973…beer was excellent!

--- David

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Hi Tom,

I must say, you're photographs are always amazing. They are top notch. You bring so much class to Traveling Boy. It's photographs like yours that make me want to go out and do my own traveling. Please don't get tired of sending us your amazing adventures. It's such a delight for the soul.

--- Raoul, Whittier, CA

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Hi Tom:

I'm also an American living in Italy. I've read with interest your blog and articles. I'd like to speak with you regarding residency and citizenship for Americans in Italy as you do seem to have a great deal of knowledge on all of these subjects. Would it be possible to give you a call on the phone? If so, please let me know how to reach you. If not, I can ask my questions via email.

Thank you!

--- David

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Hey Tom – Wow! Love those photos – they are so super that they make me A) Want to start eating NOW. B) Go there myself. C) See all that pristine beauty that looks so restful and peaceful. Great story, superb pix!!! Bravo!!

--- John, Los Angeles, CA

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Feedback for Destination Southwestern France: Saint-Émilion

Good job, Tom, and timely info. St. Émilion is in the list of places Jim Hayes and I will visit in September 2014. If we get the chance, we will exploit your experience to enhance the trip!

--- Bobby Harper, Dameron, MD

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Feedback for Vicenza Walks – Monte Berico

I lived in Vicenza for 4 years in the U.S. ARMY from 1963 to 1967. A wonderful place to explore. Palladio’s works are amazing. Have been back twice since and find new places to visit. My favorite is MONTE BERICO where I have some wonderful photos of my family.

--- Dr. Albert Pizzi, Hanover, MA

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I liked the new TB particularly the Vicenza article that took me back as a youth when we lived in Naples and travelled up there for a baseball tourney (U.S. Military Bases dependent schools played each other.)

Took me back to the plaza.

--- Bill

Feedback for A Canterbury Trail (Sutri)

Very interesting note. I have wedroned which route the early pre-Christian and Christian pilgrims travelled to Rome from England. Is it still possible to travel the Francigena trail?

--- Pawel

You can find out more info on walking tours of Via Francigena at this site: Thanks for stopping by and commenting..


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Good article, enjoyed reading it. Saved your recommended sights for future use.

--- Dardenne Prairie, MO

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You're going to be great at this Tom. Congrats.

--- Donna Vissa -Montreal

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