Sunday, April 18, 2010

7 March: my birthday! (part 1)

We awoke on my 40th birthday full of the joys of almost spring! The first thing we had to do, after all the usual ablutions, was to check out of our somewhat unsatisfactory room and into the upgrade we'd been promised. We couldn't actually check back in because the room was being prepared, but we left our cases at reception and went out for some breakfast at our regular haunt for this stay, Las Columnas.


After that, we went for a bit of a walk around. It was Sunday morning and quiet on the streets. Until, that is, we came upon a fairly peculiar sight. First, we saw a man getting his head wrapped in something resembling a turban. A glance slightly further down the road revealed more young men similarly adorned. Then there was a huge box-like contraption with several men beneath it (see pic above). I think at about this point we sussed what was going on, and a chat with an Englishman standing nearby (it turns out he used to be a tour guide here) confirmed our thoughts: these chaps were rehearsing for the Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations, during which they will be required to carry through the streets of the city a float-type object, upon which will stand a representation of a figure related to their religious brotherhood (hermandad). The tour-guide man told us that this practice box, like the real thing, weighs a ton (literally) and is supported by 35 men in seven rows of five.

We stood watching them for a while, fascinated by the less-than-snail-pace speed at which they moved and the even slower rate at which they manoeuvred around corners, shuffling their feet slightly to one side and ever so slightly forward, all together like one enormous and ungainly 70-legged beetle... Amazing.


Continuing our walk, we headed for the Alameda de Hercules, a long, thin rec area famed for its café culture (isn't all of Europe?!). En route, we stopped to take pictures of buildings and other things that caught our eye, as always, including the exterior of a convent, the Monasterio de Santa Iñes, secreted in a doored courtyard down a quiet street. Sometimes you just have to step inside some of these doorways, even if it looks like they might be closed to the public. What's the worst that can happen? You get told to move on? It's worth the risk. And incidentally, it never happened once that we were told to move on. The courtyard itself was something and nothing, but some of the decoration on the building was lovely if not outstanding. What was a unique touch (for us, anyway) was the little "hole in the wall" from which the nuns sold the sweet delights they made. Since this particular order is silent (cloistered), they deal with these sales through a little hatch, beside which a price list is posted (see pic above, and click it for a close look at the price list). So cool!

IMG_1706IMG_1711We passed through several little plazas and streets, invariably finding new tiles of devotion to saints and Jesus, pausing to photograph as many of them as we could. There must be thousands across the city, and although this was our third visit, I don't recall paying them much heed in the past. That's why I love going back to the same places a few times: you can ignore some of the things you've done previously and look for new diversions.

I also like looking out for tattoo shops, rarely if ever with the intention of getting tattooed, but I do like to pop in and look at the work they do or see how busy it is. While still walking we came upon Sevilla Tattoo, funnily enough on a street called Amor de Dios; sadly it was closed -- not surprising, I guess, since it was still only about 11:30am on a Sunday.

When we finally arrived at Alameda de Hercules, it was pretty quiet. We took pictures of the twin columns (above) at the end where we entered and strolled along the middle of the alameda (which means a "promenade where poplar trees grow", apparently). Not much was going on, but we did stumble upon yet another group of young men practising for Semana Santa, doing their centipede thing. It was great to see such devotion early on a slightly miserable Sunday morning (it had been raining on and off), when most of these guys might well have preferred to be playing some football.


At the far end of the alameda, I was stopped in my tracks. Two years ago (to the day as I write this), I blogged about a certain tattooer called Lucio. And here, now, in front of my very eyes, was his shop in Seville. (Seems I was slightly wrong about his location in that earlier post; he actually has shops both here and in Càdiz.) But goddamn if the shop wasn't closed! Had to take a pic, though; after all, this guy is mythically tied up with my own Seville history.


So we left the Alameda de Hercules behind us and continued, the attention of our walk now to be the Cathedral of the Macarena. Walking our side-street walk, it took us about 20 minutes from Lucio's shop. Unfortunately it was absolutely packed, standing room only, for the service that going on, so while we were able to enter and see some of its beauty, we couldn't really take any pictures or fully bathe in its majesty. We vowed to return and headed out, following the sound of a brass band to see what was going on.



What was going on was a practice session for mostly teenage boys with drums and trumpets. These kids would doubtless be following one of the floats come Semana Santa -- probably the Macarena one, given their proximity to that cathedral right now. As Red doubtless rightly pointed out, it seems Semana Santa has a job for all able-bodied males in this city. Incredible! We stood enjoying the band for about 15 minutes, and by now the sun was starting to beat down. Finally. Knowing we'll get burned in the time it would take to walk back to the town centre, we opted for a cab back to the Cerveceria Giralda.

I confess that I'm not sure what we ate, but I might come back and edit that in if I have a record anywhere. All I know is that it was about 1:30pm by the time we were at lunch and we had a 4pm appointment booked at the baños árabes. There would be no problem making that, but we just had to bear in mind that we needed to make a trip back to the hotel and get into our new room and pick up our swimwear for the baños.

To be continued...

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Anonymous Red said...

And able-bodied women can play Veronica and the other girl, whose name I now forget. :)

18 April, 2010 18:51  
Blogger Milla said...

I love the picture of the centipede! And look, all those legs make me think of some rockabilly ensamble.

Beautiful ceramics, just marvellous.
That's the only good thing about religion: the art that it inspires in humans.

19 April, 2010 13:31  
Blogger Four Dinners said...

Sorry Milla...there is no good thing about religion at all. Never has been never will.

Having said that, the art is indeed marvellous.

22 April, 2010 01:28  
Blogger tweetey30 said...

wow guys. amazing really. I love hearing and seeing your pix of your adventures.. ours are nothing like yours but we cant travel right now with money issues like usual. I could use some more cash for our youngests b-day party in June.. if red is interested i have some cool stuff in my etsy check it out sometime.. i have loads of stuff and more stuff coming up..

22 April, 2010 20:46  
Blogger Red said...

Dude, we're all waiting for the next instalment here...

04 May, 2010 07:30  
Blogger Stagg said...

Great story with all the pictures...I like how much you are into the tattoo parlors..that's HARDCORE!!!



11 May, 2010 01:22  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Yeah installment...

hey lovely photos!

22 May, 2010 23:17  
Blogger Martha Elaine Belden said...

your travel photos always make me so depressed to live in dallas, texas. mostly b/c it's not like europe here. travel to anywhere worthwhile takes time, planning, and way too much money. not that it doesn't take those things in europe. but i feel like the beauty is all around and rather easier to get to in europe. maybe i'm just making that up... but it's the impression i get. and if it's true... i envy you guys.

27 August, 2010 15:44  

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