| Iberian Adventure:
I'm Not a Barber, But I Am in Seville
Story and photos by Tom Weber
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
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.
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?
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
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).
We're here to savor churros
deep-fried, loop-shaped, sugarcoated fluted dough dipped into
cups of doubly thick hot chocolate. Mmmmm.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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!
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.
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
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