spreadsheets and suitcases

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 11: New Year, Old Memories

on May 17, 2019

¡Feliz año nuevo!  January 1st, 2019 found us in one of the most special places in the world to me: Sevilla.  Out itinerary this day had us hitting my daughter’s favorite bakery and playground, our neighborhood and apartment, a place to eat my favorite tapa, and a recreation of a treasured photo.  We woke up without an alarm- a true luxury!

We breakfasted with our friend, who had gotten in at 4am!  She jumped right into a Spanish New Year’s Day tradition that I was not aware of: watching the Vienna Philharmonic’s New Year’s Day Concert live on TV.   I have to say, it was a lovely and gentle start to the day- and year!  Gotta love Strauss, especially while consuming reheated Freiduria chicken wings.  After a while, my itinerary began calling out to me…this was our last full day in Sevilla, after all…  First up, our plans to grab the bus into town were pooh-poohed.  Our friend wanted to drive us to the city center, as she had more friends/family members to visit with.  We had invited her to tour with us, but obligation called.  We had her drop us at what had been DD’s favorite playground, a pirate-themed area overlooking the Guadalquivir River.  The weather was once again beautiful.  The playground clientele was a veritable United Nations, with kids from South Africa, Australia, Spain of course, and from Massachusetts and Hawaii 🙂 in the US all playing together nicely.  Even teenage DD had fun on the swings.

sevilla swings

Above: the kids on the swings.  Below: La Giralda on the prow of the playground “ship,” and some very clear playground rules.

After having a good amount of fun there, and waving at a few river cruises going by, we headed into town.  Here, memories intensified- we had walked this route so many times!  So many thoughts- there was the school yard, over there was the traditional barber, I remember this ornate door, this is the narrowest section so step off the curb, remember that popular tapas place around the corner…

After less than 10 minutes, we reached the Plaza de San Lorenzo.  It’s home to the Basílica de Jesús del Gran Poder, which contains exquisitely carved statues of Jesus and Mary that live in the Church and can be seen year-round, but make an impressive exit and subsequent tour of Sevilla during Semana Santa, or Holy Week.  I found a video of this year’s proceedings…the good stuff happens at the 18:55 mark with the Jesús del Gran Poder statue, and then again at the 41:35 mark, when they bring out the Virgen del Mayor Dolor y Traspaso, with the shawl and the lit candles.  These large platforms with the statues on them are carried on the backs of members of the church’s Brotherhood.

None of these things happened on this day, though.  We breezed past the church and walked to the very end of the short block, hoping against hope that our corner bakery was open on New Year’s Day.  It was- what luck!  They even had a large supply of DD’s favorite treat, a kind of sesame pastry.


After sesame treats (some eaten there, some purchased in bulk to-go) and yummy freshly baked bread, we were ready for the big moment-seeing our old apartment!  The place that we brought newborn DS to from the hospital, and his very 1st home.  I admit I started to cry a bit.  We’d had the goal of bringing him back to his birthplace for a long time, and we did it!  We stood there for while, remembering things like me struggling up the 3 floors to the apartment after my C-section with DS, getting a Disney’s Princess & the Frog-themed birthday cake from the aforementioned corner bakery to celebrate DD’s 9th birthday, having to buzz in the butane canister delivery guys every few weeks since the apartment wasn’t connected to the city gas lines, and the night-shift City employee who loudly sang flamenco ballads outside our bedroom windows while she cleaned the street.   A few pictures and several blown noses later, we marched on.

sevilla house

Our apartment was around the corner from a funky neighborhood called the Alameda de Hércules, which was our next stop.  Our purpose in heading that way was two-fold: we needed a restroom, and we were on the lookout for my favorite tapa, gambas al ajillo (garlic shrimp).  After taking care of the first bit, we began the great gambas search.  None of the restaurants that were open were serving that.

We traveled towards the Plaza del Duque and its El Corte InglésSpain’s biggest department store chain, which has a basement supermarket where we used to do much of our US credit-card purchased grocery shopping.  It was closed, but we knew of a restaurant nearby that might have what we were looking for.  Jackpot!

vero gambas

The servers at Red Lobster fear me when it’s Endless Shrimp time, lol

After a very satisfying lunch (seriously, I stuffed my face w/gambas), we continued through what DH always called “the shopping streets.”  Gorgeous ceramic tiles border the signs for all kinds of stores: traditional baby clothing, high-end watches, Spanish fans, couture wedding gowns, and modern shoes.  It was pretty crowded around here, with several clusters of armed police to be seen protecting the citizens.  It made sense, as it was a holiday and we were nearing the City Council building, or Ayuntamiento.  

Short story time! Spain won the World Cup in 2010, just a few weeks before we moved there, and part of the celebration was a country-wide tour of the actual trophy.  It came to Sevilla’s Ayuntamiento, and DD, weeks-old DS, and I went to see it.  A local news channel was there, and the reporter saw me wearing this tiny baby in a sling.  She declared that this must be the youngest fan in Sevilla to come see the Cup, and interviewed me on live TV.  The crew also took a great picture of DD with the trophy.

Anyway, we kept going past the building, and hopped on the tram here.  We went past La Giralda atop the Catedral de Sevilla, the Archivo de Indiasthe beautiful Hotel Alfonso XIII that I had hoped to stay in, and the Real Fábrica de Tabacos de Sevilla, which is where Bizet’s fictional Carmen (of opera fame) worked-  the building is now part of the University of Seville.  We got off the tram near the Parque de María Luisa.  We had a picture to reenact.

Way back in Thanksgiving 2010, my sister and her husband visited us in Sevilla after spending some time in Madrid.  To commemorate the American holiday, we spent a day touring and then bought that beef from the Mercado de Triana for those yummy burgers I mentioned in the last post.  Part of our touring included the STUNNING Plaza de España.

sevilla plaza

This place is a visual feast.  Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, it contains 50 tiled Alcoves of the Provinces, an example of which I found online. 


Stock picture of the Huesca alcove.  Look at those tiles!

By this time, the sun was getting ready to set. We wandered around for a while, noting that the boats you can row in the little river were open. We had rowed the boats that Thanksgiving day, but the line this day was quite long, so we skipped it.  Some bickering occurred; DH, DD, and I each had a different memory of where we had originally stood for the photo.  It was important to find the correct angle.  We took a few different shots, moved around 3 feet this way and that, then finally found the approximate spot.  The zoom is different because we used the selfie stick (a poor replacement for our talented photographer of a brother-in-law), but I think it was relatively successful.


That’s DS inside the brown sling in the lefthand picture 🙂  I apologize for the preponderance of covered faces, haha.

And not a moment too soon, as the sun set less than 5 minutes later.  As we made our way out of the Park toward the bus stop, we walked through yet another Winter Wonderland-type festival.  With, yes, the SAME Christmas tree ornament ride as in London. We had seen it at the Le Magie de Noël aux Tuileries in Paris as well.

We found our bus stop and waited about 15 minutes.  Soon, we were “home,” and our friend…wasn’t.  We took the opportunity to clean up a bit, which we knew she wouldn’t let us do if she were there to witness it.  It was also time to repack- we were leaving Sevilla at around 9am the next day to start our Barcelona adventure.  I was able to reincorporate the duffle bag of dirty clothes (now clean) into our regular luggage, eliminating the extra bag.  This would be important the next day…

After our friend came home, we told her all about our day, ate a light dinner, and headed to bed.  I don’t think I could have asked for more from our short time in Sevilla.

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