Sunday, January 12, 2014

Thursday, November 28, 2013 – Cadiz, Spain – Partly Cloudy – 57F

Happy Turkey Day

Local Information.  Cadiz is located in the autonomous community of Andalusia and has a population of approximately 135,000 people.  It is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula.  It is the gateway to Sevilla.  Sevilla is located approximately 70 miles from Cadiz.  Sevilla is a large city with a population of approximately 700,000 inhabitants.  The Jewish Population of Sevilla endured a massive pogrom in 1391 with Synagogues being converted to churches, land and shops being appropriated, and forced conversions of the population.  The Barrio Santa Cruz was the site of the old Jewish Quarter of Sevilla.  The remains of Christopher Columbus and his son Fernando are found in the Cathedral of Sevilla.

NOTE: We last visited Cadiz during our Road Trip of Spain in 1999.  We missed a lot of things back then since we wanted to see the countryside and spent little time in the big cities.

It’s going to be a nice day in Cadiz and Sevilla…

I’m up early so I am able to capture the sunrise in cloudy Cadiz.

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Sunrise in Cadiz

Ellen and I are the same tour today – “Tour Legendary Seville (plus lunch)” – Our tour guide for the bus ride to Sevilla is Carlotta – she passed out the Whisper Radios we will need later. Our bus is equipped with a road cam so we can see what the people up front are seeing.  Carlotta is more of a coordinator and really doesn’t say much on the way to Sevilla.

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Carlotta – Our Tour Guide

The bus lets us off just on the other side of the Guadaljivir River.  This tour is a total walking tour and I am concerned that some of my passengers are not totally up to the task.  We meet our new guide – Elisa – exuberant and knowledgeable. 

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Elisa -  our tour guide

As with most of the excursions I am not able to really stay with the guide as I with passengers having trouble keeping up.

The Torre Del Oro – “The Golden Tower” was a watch tower built during the Moorish period to protect access to the Guadaljivir River.  The tower casts a golden reflection on the river – hence the name.  Note:  the Guadaljivir River is fully navigable.

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Torre Del Oro

Our first stop in the The Plaza de España located in the Parque de María Luisa.  The plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The buildings in the Plaza are now mostly government buildings but the plaza (interiors and some exteriors) became the Royal Palace on the Planet Naboo in two Star Wars movies. 

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20131128_Plaza Espana (Small)

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Shooting me shooting you

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Fresco of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza

It seems that the sights we will be seeing today are relatively close to each other.

The Alcazar of Sevilla – built in the 10th Century - is a Royal Palace and is the oldest functioning Royal Palace in Europe - The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the Spanish royal family when staying in Sevilla.  The structure was originally designed to be a fort.

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The Alcazar of Sevilla

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Lion’s Gate

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The Patio de las Doncellas, “Courtyard of the Maidens” was modified by Director Ridley Scott for his movie, Kingdom of Heaven (the courtyard doubled as the Court of the King of Jerusalem).

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Courtyard of the Maidens


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One of the gates had a distinctive Star of David on the gate (below) – the guide said it was a Jewish Reference (certainly put there by the Moors and not the Catholic Spanish Monarchs).

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The Alcazar had magnificent gardens as well as the Garden Pool – fully stocked with some kind of large fish.

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Garden Pool (full of fish)

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Where is Ellen in the picture above?

Our next stop was the Catedral de Sevilla (Cathedral of Seville).  The mosque originally on the site was converted to a church following the Reconquista.  The Cathedral was built after the church was destroyed by an earthquake in 1356. The minaret of the mosque survived the earthquake and was repurposed as a bell tower (by replacing the top section with a cross and bell mechanism).  The tower – the Giralda – stands over 104 meters high and is now a part of the Cathedral.  The Islamic architectural features are clearly visible on the lower two thirds of the tower.  The Cathedral itself was started in 1401 and is a combination of gothic and baroque architecture. 

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The Cathedral and La Giralda

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20131128_Sevilla Cathedral (Small)

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More views of the Cathedral of Seville

We entered the Cathedral through one of the side doors – hanging over the entrance was an alligator.  The alligator (along with a tusk, a giraffe, and other stuff) was a gift (in the mid 13th Century) from an Egyptian Sultan to a King of Spain (an attempt to initiate diplomatic relations).  The one that hangs over the gate, along with the tusk, is a wooden replica – the original is long gone.

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Puerta del Lagarto, “the Gate of the Lizard”

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Interior of the Cathedral

Of course, my goal in visiting the Cathedral was to see the Tomb of Christopher Columbus.  I found the Tomb in a dark corner of the Cathedral.  This made is very difficult to photograph the structure (with or without flash).  Fortunately, there were just a few people around the tomb so random people were not an issue.

Our guide mentioned that recent DNA testing had confirmed that the bones in the tomb belonged to the Admiral of The Indies.

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The Tomb of Cristobal Colon

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Me and Cristobal

Also buried in the Cathedral is the illegitimate son of Cristobal Colon, Fernando Colon.  He is in the floor of the Cathedral. It was very difficult to figure out the inscriptions next to the grave marker.  Fernando is still a player in the whole identification process since his Y DNA is in good shape.

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Grave of Fernando Colon

We left the Cathedral for our next stop – a stroll through some shopping areas as well as the old Jewish Quarter.  We were missing the wife of one of the passengers so I went back in looking for her.  I did locate her near the exit – she had been tracking the guide’s voice on her Whisper Radio.

The Barrio Santa Cruz was the Old Jewish Quarter in Santa Cruz until the Church instigated a pogrom and property seizure of the Jewish Population in 1391 (about a Century before the official expulsion of the Jews from Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella).  Not much left today that would indicated that this was once a thriving Jewish Area.

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20131128_Santa Cruz Jewish Area (Small)

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Barrio Santa Cruz

Some stores were open and some passengers spent some time looking for trinkets.  From there, we went, as a very dispersed group, to our lunch venue.

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On our way to lunch

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Time for Lunch

We seemed to arrive at lunch after many other groups but we still were able to get something to eat – very good salad and bread and some wine.  We were only eating about 30 minutes when Carlotta said we had to go to the busses in the next 10 minutes.  Everyone rushed and soon a line of passengers were making their way back to the area near the Cathedral where we would muster and then go to the busses.  I was walking with four people with mobility problems so I arrived late.  I was told that the busses would pick everyone up at the Park about four blocks ahead. 

I set off with my group but I soon fell behind due to the four people not able to keep up.  We stopped frequently to let people catch their breaths and eventually made it to the park – there were no busses to be seen.

While my people sat on the park benches and rested, I saw Bus 3 drive by (we were on Bus 4).  I flagged him down and told him to call Carlotta, give her our location and have her pick us up.  He said he would and drove off.  No busses came. One of the members of our group (who joined us as we were walking), said she would look for the busses on the next street.  She didn’t come back for a while and I thought she was lost.

I was just about to activate my cell phone and call the emergency number in Seville, when a bus came around the corner – it was Bus 4.  When I got on the bus, I had a “conversation” with Carlotta.  When I got to the back of the bus to my seat, the passengers gave me a round of applause for getting the rest of the people to the bus.

I checked on the people who had difficulty walking and they said they were all right.  At the pier, Carlotta apologized for the mix up and I told her that not everyone can walk fast – some people are slower than others and she needed to wait for them.

After dinner, we caught Steve Cauette’s full show in the Celebrity Theater.  Even though he warned people, some people still came in late and got the treatment.  His show continues to be funny (well maybe not the part about his girlfriend).

20131128_Steve Caoette final show (Small)

Steve Cauette

A long day in Cadiz and Seville. 

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