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or here for the Seville set
As we boarded the train at the Atocha station in Madrid, we had lots of plans for the four or five days we were going to spend in Andalucía. But when we arrived in Seville everything fizzled out little by little and we ended up spending the next three days eating well and shopping. First, the plan to travel to Granada petered out; taking the train or bus there and then getting from Granada to Barcelona was going to cost too much. So when we found a cheap plane ticket from Seville straight to Barcelona we decided to forgo the Alhambra. In Seville itself, we weren’t very proficient with the monuments – we walked the beautiful narrow streets of the old town but didn’t enter one single tourist attraction. The magnificent Seville cathedral was charging 7.50 Euros entrance fee, and I decided that the Catholic Church would not have my money anymore. If I can’t get into a church for free, I won’t get in at all (although I was going to break this oath later at the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona).
We compensated our lack of cultural interest by spending a lot of time at fnac (the French cultural and consumer-electronics megastore) and El Corte Ingles, buying the iPod Nano G3, and downloading a lot of music. And no doubt, we redeemed ourselves by sampling the elaborate culinary offerings of the many tapas bars spread all over town. “Es arte, no es cocina,” the waitress at Los Coloniales told us as she brought a delicious plate of sandwiches with foie gras and cold roasted pork cuts, topped with fried quail eggs. I licked my fingers knowing I have reached a new apex of culinary delight. And things were going to get even better…
In defense of “traditional” cultural activities, on one of the evenings we went to see a free flamenco show in a bar. The singer and the guitar player put up a good, passionate performance, but it was not amplified, and a lot of the people in the back of the bar kept on talking. The background noise bothered the singer (who had to keep reminding the audience not to speak and not to smoke) and annoyed the people who were actually there for the music. Of course, if the show hadn’t been for free, this wouldn’t have happened.
The Oasis Backpacker Hostel, our lodgment in Seville, is a nice renovated building with a great location, but, as it happens with most places which have “backpackers” in their name, it is very loud. The hotel is built around a small inner courtyard which has been covered with a glass roof, and now holds the reception, a few couches and the computers with free internet access. As such, this makeshift “lodge” is a very popular place, and it’s no surprise that the rooms at the higher floors get a share of the conversations that happen downstairs. The hostel seemed to be full with nothing but young American students, most of them girls; the word “like” kept popping up in their conversations - which were mainly about drinking or bad boyfriends - with an unprecedented frequency. But among all those aliens we meet Paul, an American traveling alone around the world not for one, but for two years (of which he has completed half). We spent some time with him exchanging travel ideas and blog tips (is there even one person traveling for a long time nowadays, who doesn’t keep a blog?). He has lots of stories and good pictures at http://pauls-paradigm2.blogspot.com.
At the end of the three days, we left Seville largely unexplored and headed for Barcelona hoping for good weather, more good food, and eager to meet my friend Robert whom I hadn’t seen in something like 5 years…Written in Barcelona