Mon, July 1
We were out and about early this morning to visit the Gothic Quarter of Barcelona, which was also the Jewish Quarter. Very narrow streets where the buildings seemed to nearly meet overhead. One of the group actually got lost in the myriad of medieval streets and courtyards. Fortunately she was found before the tour had finished. Very easy to attach yourself to the wrong group, we nearly did it ourselves!
The old part of the city is really old – where you can stroll past medieval buildings and sites dating back 2,000 years.
Barcelona is a very clean city with a fascinating mixture of old and new. It was heavily bombed during the war and a lot of buildings were rebuilt in the 19th century. Lots of cafes and restaurants, museums and churches to explore. And of course they are very proud of the wonderful facilities which were built for the Olympic Games. We visited a vast food market where you can buy any type of food imaginable. If they don’t have it, they will get it in for you. All the produce looked so fresh! Beautiful dried fruits and nuts – lots more varieties than we see in Australia.
The people were friendly and welcoming to tourists and we would very much like to visit this lovely city again. Among our souvenirs we made sure we bought some sangria. Our one disappointment was that we could not fit in any tapas as much as we would have liked to – we have been too well fed on the ship! That will be something to look forward to next time…..
Wed, July 3
Last night we transited through the Strait of Gibraltar leaving the Mediterranean and entering the Atlantic and arrived in Cadiz where we picked up the local pilot to guide us up the narrow channel into the harbour.
Our coach took us to Seville, 134 km away from the port, where he left us to explore the cultural centre of southern Spain. We strolled through the old Jewish Quarter with its many outdoor cafes and gazed at the Cathedral of Seville, La Giralda which was a mosque and now is a Christian church built in 12th century, the Plaza de Espana (built for the 1988 Spanish Expo), the Royal Palace and the Plaza de Toros (bullring).
The guided tour started in the stands of the ring and moved on to the museum and art gallery, bullfighter’s chapel and horses courtyard and followed the history from its construction in 1761. It took more than a century to build. I was surprised when it was explained that this cruel practice is still carried on today, with about 35 events per year featuring 3 bullfighters and 6 bulls.
Finally, after about 4 hours of walking around Seville, we were very pleased to discover a nice restaurant for tapas and Spanish beer – excellent!