May 10, 2013

The First Days...

Estoy aquí!!!  I arrived safe and sound in Sevilla on Wednesday, May 8, 2013, and am living in the most beautiful, chic apartment, which overlooks the Guadalquivir River, and is just a few blocks from el centro (downtown)!!  Sevilla is GORGEOUS!  How has this city not been over-run by... well... EVERYONE?!  Ssshhhhh!  With deep history, the buildings are so old and architecturally amazing; every single building (even the banks and stores and such) is absolutely breath-taking! The weather is to die for!  It's downright balmy!! No jacket needed! There are palm trees everywhere. It's amazing here!

I haven't spoken a word of English since I boarded the flight of the second leg on Tuesday!  Fabulous! Even typing this feels weird. 

Both flights were smooth, with no problems! I found my way to the bus (locals were happy to answer mis preguntas), which took me to the train station. Figuring out how to buy a train ticket was a puzzle, but I fumbled my way through it just fine.  I've always loved a good challenge.  The train ride was endless gorgeous countryside scenery (at least the part I saw when I was awake! ha ha!). Lourdes's cuñado (brother-in-law), Pedro, picked me up at the train station and gave me a grand tour of Sevilla before bringing me "home" to Lourdes' y Pedro's apartment - the lovely couple who is home-exchanging with me. Pedro (brother-in-law) and his wife Pilar (and their two adorable children) live in the same building, just one floor above, and have made themselves available to me if I need anything. In fact, Pilar had gone shopping (at Lourdes's request) and bought a loaf of gluten-free bread, a box of almond milk, and a bag a gluten-free cornflakes, which were waiting for me on the kitchen table.  So sweet!!!!  Love them already! 

I'm getting accustomed to the daily routine of the Spaniards, and in many ways, it feels very natural to me.  Breakfast (desayuno) and lunch (almuerzo) are fairly similar timing-wise, while the types of food are a bit different. And the Spaniards don't make a big deal about lunch; in fact, many do not even eat lunch, but will perhaps have a light snack in the afternoon.  After the siesta, and after the second half of the work day completes, the streets truly come alive!  The evening meal (cena) is a pretty big meal, and happens late at night.  It's totally normal to be eating at 10 or 11 at night, and then helado and café con leche even later!  Personally, I love this!  "Good eating habits" and schedules be damned!  These people are healthy!  

Upon arriving, I was wondering about jet-lag (what does it feel like?  When will it hit me?), but was too excited to worry about it, so I quickly freshened up and took a walk around my new neighborhood.  I walked out the front door of my apartment and found myself steps away from the Guadalquivir River.  

There seemed to be thousands of people – couples, small groups, large groups, people playing soccer, riding bikes, running, walking their dogs, in-line skating (apparently still very popular here). The sidewalks and streets are brick. Seriously!  It's like walking on the set of an old movie, except it's all real. And the streets are all filled with people ALL. THE. TIME. People of all ages, colors, cultures, shapes, sizes...  People enjoying themselves and each other. 

It was about 11:30pm by now, as I was happily meandering along the streets, taking in all the sites, smells, sounds, stopping in a shop here and there...  As I began to feel a bit tired, I decided to head back to my apartment, and just a block away from it, found myself in front of teeny tapas bar.  Nothing fancy at all.  Seriously, it's about the size of a teeny galley-kitchen in a small apartment.  I had read those hole-in-the-wall types are the best, so I wasted no time, and bellied-up.  I ordered a café con leche and watched the soccer game on TV!  LOL!  The place had a few tables outside as well, and every one of them was occupied with folks who were eating tapas, drinking beer, talking, laughing, enjoying the evening!  It was quite a delight!  I think I'll become a "regular" there.

The next "morning" I opened my eyes for the first time at noon (!!) and that entire second day, I was awake for a grand total of 1 hour, in 15 minute segments! Ah, so this is what jet-lag feels like! I'm so glad I have the gift of time on this journey.  I don't feel rushed or stressed or anything!  I surrendered to the jet-lag until I awoke for real around 7:00pm, just in time for a nice walk along the river (gorgeous!) and then off to el centro (downtown).  

So I walked, no, I literally strolled along the winding, tiny, brick streets of el centro, while eating the best chocolate helado (ice cream) I've ever tasted. Not sure if it was the best, or if it was because everything looks, smells, tastes brand new!  I continued my stroll, listening to the sounds of countless people talking, laughing, eating, drinking... I was gloriously lost for about an hour, during which time I bought a fabulous dress and scarf, both hand-made in Spain, and made a new friend with the store clerk. Emerging from the lovely little shop, I looked up and saw the cathedral tower, my landmark, and realized I was never really lost at all, but it was fun pretending I was for a moment...  I passed by one tapas bar after another, every single one crowded with people, sidewalk tables and chairs filled with more people. Since I had already eaten dessert, I figured now it was time for tapas, and finally chose a tapas bar because of its... well....  no reason at all - just chose it and sat down at sweet little table on the sidewalk, a front-row seat for the best entertainment I've seen in a long time.

With delicious tapas and Spanish wine as a backdrop, I sat at my quaint sidewalk table and shamelessly watched all that was around me. My wait staff (un hombre y una mujer) were very friendly and lingered to chat with me whenever they stopped to check on me.  I came away with their local recommendations for the best Flamenco shows and some good tapas bars.  Tapas bars are everywhere!  One cannot take two steps without being in front of two or three!  And what's wrong with that, exactly?  Absolutely nada!  I'll be as big as a house and broke when I return.  At least I hope so!  :)

Hasta pronto...


  1. Maravilloso mejor amigo, esto es precioso! Un gran comienzo para una aventura increíble para usted. DISFRUTAR! Con mucho amor, muchos besos y muchos abrazos!