By about 3:00, we were bidding a sad farewell to Parque de Atracciones, but I was promising myself that I would most definitely be back for another visit at some point. We took the metro back to our hotel, where we retrieved our bags, then headed to the Atocha RENFE station on the metro. We found our train easily, and were seated just a few coaches from the back of the train.
This was quite the posh train in my opinion...plenty of leg room, nice tables that folded out in front of you, complimentary headphones to watch the Corpse Bride in Spanish if you so chose (I didn't)...would have been nice had my transatlantic airplane been this nice!
The dining car was two coaches in front of us, so we both grabbed a snack there as we watched the countryside speed past us. For a brief moment...probably less than a minute...it started to rain, but then quickly stopped again. So I guess you could say that the rain in Spain fell mainly when we were on a train, since that was the only rain we saw for the entire trip!
Once in Sevilla, we grabbed a cab and got a ride to the Hostal Arias. We found our hotel easily since it was very near the main cathedral and alcazar, and got checked in with no delay.
The hotel was very nice...on a superbly picturesque street within earshot of the center of the old town.
The street that is home to Hostal Arias
The Hostal Arias bedroom
The beautiful light fixture in our Hostal Arias room
Having made no real plans for that evening, we decided to head out and just wander around. As we approached the cathedral, there were tons of people in the streets, making noise, waving around flags and scarves...
...turns out that the Sevillian futbol team had just won the Spanish championship a day or so before, and the city was celebrating! We hung around for a bit, but with everyone just standing around having fun, it was hard to tell if anything was actually happening, or if it was just a big party. Soon we moved on to exploring the old Jewish area of the city.
There was a well planned out walking tour of Sevilla's Barrio de Santa Cruz in the Rick Steves guidebook Kevin was using, so we walked through it step by step. It pointed out how the buildings are close together to keep the city cooler and maximize shade, and how the Spaniards planted orange trees everywhere because they never lose their leaves and can provide shade year round.
As we walk, we find the Calle de la Muerte and are reminded of all the fun times during the RADP meet the previous December!
As we walked, I was struck by just how beautiful the city was, and as night fell, it came even more alive with locals out for an evening paseo. Parts of the city felt fabricated...like they were designed that way just so tourists could get good photos...but they weren't! One area we came to was this small courtyard with an outdoor restaurant, with only these tiny little alleyways leading to and from it, and the ambience was just so incredible that you could never duplicate it!
After a while, we found an outdoor cafe that looked appealing so we sat down for dinner. I decided to make it another one of those meals of completely new foods, so Kevin and I split a bowl of gazpacho, a plate of paella, and I had a sangria, while he had a red wine. Honestly, it was just about the best meal of the trip. I pondered out loud numerous times how I had made it to 26 years old without ever trying gazpacho! It was fabulous! And the paella was really great also...it was a dish I had heard about for years in my Spanish classes, but had never tried.
I also found a pea that bore a striking resemblance to Mike Wyzowski in my paella!
We finished out the night by continuing to wander, stopping in shops here and there, and wandering around the cathedral.
As bedtime approached, the streets got louder with all the locals because the futbol team was arriving back home at midnight.
Everyone was singing, blowing air horns, waving flags...yet everyone was completely behaving! No one was drunk, no one was acting a fool in public...
...there were police everywhere just standing around doing nothing because no one was misbehaving!
We grabbed some ice cream on the way home, and when we got back to the hotel...
...we watched some of the news coverage of the party, and as midnight approached, the streets in our area were overrun with people making all sorts of noise. We went on to bed and tried to sleep, and when I woke up briefly at 2:00am, everything was quiet outside.