On Saturday we started the day with a yummy breakfast in the hotel restaurant. I was fascinated by the coffee machine and how it had so many options in Spanish. Something I learned on this trip was the difference between a café cortado and a café con leche that I always ordered in Argentina. A café cortado is mostly coffee with just a little milk while a café con leche is about half and half. Another option is a café manchado which is mainly milk and a splash of coffee. I love grasping these little bits of cultural information along the way to share with my students! After una taza, or what they call a cup of coffee, we headed out to see El Alcázar!
Get ready for a fun history lesson! The Alcázar is a closed palace with Muslim, Jewish and Christian influences in the heart of Sevilla constructed before the Spanish Inquisition. Alcázar is Arabic for palace and was constructed in mudejar style, a type of architecture that illustrated a meeting point between Christianity and Islam. Symbols from the different religions showed tolerance inside the palace. The Inquisition actually started in Sevilla as it was the most cosmopolitan city at the time. It had the only navigable river, so a chamber of commerce was created by Ferdinand and Isabel for all trade to arrive here.
The palace was created for a Christian king while the Alhambra in Granada was created for a Muslim Sultan. It is simply incredible to see the detail in the construction. The pictures do not do it justice! The Muslim influence is so prevalent in the south of Spain and all words in the Spanish language that begin with “al” come from Arabic, for example the word for pillow almohada.
We then walked to la Catedral de Sevilla which had the students awestruck in its size and beauty. It is the third largest cathedral in the world. It holds the biggest “retablo” or altar made of 2000 kg of gold. It almost doesn’t look real there is so much gold. Since most of the common people couldn’t read or write, the altars were used to tell the story of Jesus Christ.
Despite arguments of where Christopher Columbus’ remains are located, there are 200 grams of his body located within this cathedral and they have been DNA tested and confirmed. I couldn’t believe I was standing in the midst of someone so influential in world history! We have talked about 1492 and Columbus sailing the ocean blue quite often during this trip as he asked for and received the money from the Spanish King and Queen of Castilla and Leon, Ferdinand and Isabel. They have various monuments dedicated to Columbus in many cities. I finally was able to put together that Colón is related to colonizar which is connected to Colonia! How in the world did I never realize that?!
We climbed 35 flights of stairs to the top of the cathedral bell tower to get an amazing view of the city. I had no idea that going down was just a tough as going up! The view was spectacular and worth the climb!
After our tour we had lunch in Restaurante Almiranta. Oh my goodness I was so excited to get a salad! Spain eats ALOT of fried food so a ensalada barbacoa (a salad with chicken and barbecue dressing) really hit the spot. Others ordered calamari, veggie paella and carillada, a meat similar to roast beef. My second dish was a sandwich, un serranito, composed of ham, grilled chicken and a fried egg served on a delicious tomato ciabatta bread. This was one of my favorite meals of the trip. I’m going to try to replicate it at home!
For the rest of the day we had free time where we could shop and explore. I went back to the mall to shop in Stratavarius and Sfera and most exciting, the Sevilla Football Club team store! Our hotel was located right next to the stadium!
Around 9pm we dined in Bar Carmela. We sat on a relaxing patio and were able to order any tapas we wanted off of the menu. A menu in Spain is not called a menu after all however. A menu in Spain is a set group of food items. If you want to order off of the menu, it’s called a carta. This was a lesson learned even for a Spanish teacher! I ordered a sesame soy chicken dish, a curry chicken dish with rice and patatas bravas. Let’s just say I was thrilled to have chicken and ate every single bit of that meal. This day was a food win for me! I’m really going to miss sitting in the open air eating and having a cute café on every street corner. It’s one of my favorite things about Spain. It’s so relaxing!
To end the night we walked about 30 minutes back to the hotel. Some of the Mason group walked back earlier while others of us went for ice cream. Of course I was in the ice cream group. When we arrived back to the hotel we found the group out back of the hotel playing volleyball and soccer with a group of Spaniards! It was so cool! The kids were speaking the language, having dance offs and just enjoying each other’s company. This experience energized most of them as it was their first authentic meeting with Spaniards of their own age.
After two days in Sevilla, we were able to hear the distinct accent of the area. They do not pronounce “ado” as it is seen, but rather they cut out the d and push the vowels together. They also do not pronounce plurals. If you want to say “zapatos” you just say “zapato” if you want to blend in. I love learning about the dialects and how they differ around the country. I feel much more educated to teach my students about the various accents in Spain now which is exciting. We headed to bed exhausted on Saturday after walking 23,000 steps but excited to head to a new city, Granada, tomorrow!