Christopher Columbus monument in Jardine de Murillo 
We love a ‘wow’ moment in our travels and the more such moments, the better. Mostly the natural surroundings that provide it, such as the magnificent west coast of Scotland we visited recently, with views that stop us in our tracks saying, ‘Take a look at this!’. We were easily wowed returning to lovely Ronda in southern Spain and driving through the nearby spectacular Sierra de Grazalema national park earlier this week. The lakes, rocky landscape, steep and twisty roads, picturesque white-painted villages nestling into the hillsides caused me to make many photo stops, I’m sorry but I just can’t help it. It’s not very often we get any sort of wow-factor when we visit a new city, in fact, I can’t think 🤔 of the last time we were wowed by a visit to any city at all. My first visits to downtown Houston, Krakow, Hong Kong, San Francisco, Tokyo, our early visits to Manhattan, Rome, Sydney’s harbour and, of course, Singapore, all delivered their own wow moments but they were many years’ ago. Until today. Sevilla! What a fabulous Andalusian find!  Where have you been all my travelling life? Arriving into the city we found wide tree-lined boulevards, many bridges over a large river, grand decorated period buildings in squares shining in the sun and we thought, aye up, this looks to be quite a place. And the further we drove towards the centre the more impressed we became. Our hotel was near the UNESCO world heritage-listed cathedral and adjoining Alcázar palace, surely amongst the most impressive and awesome medieval building complexes we’ve ever seen. 
We had just a day to ‘do’ the city highlights based on advice from a number of online tour guides. A twenty minute morning walk from our hotel brought us to the first, the Plaza de España, a magnificent plaza built in 1928 for the World Fair that no doubt showed-off the host city at least as well then as it does today. Far more impressive than our Trafalgar Square we spent nearly an hour walking around and enjoying it before walking back toward the old town, through beautiful gardens in full bloom with impressive monuments, an early one recognising Cristóbal Colón featured a large galleon in a pretty park near the university. From thereon our walk through the central part of the city was a true delight with small streets, crowded pavement cafes, beautifully decorated buildings at every turn, always dominated by the presence of the nearby cathedral. 
Oozing romance, we decided to take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the historic old town, something I only agree to when I feel it’ll be worth the dizzying prices these tours normally charge. Paula loves carriage rides and this one wasn’t bad at all but it mostly covered the sights we’d already walked. At least we felt we’d covered the major tourist highlights, and I earned a number of welcome brownie points. 
We walked to the bullring where we learned it was the second-oldest in Spain, after the one we had overlooked from a rooftop bar in Ronda a few days ago. We ate an ice cream in gardens alongside statues of obviously-famous matadors we’d never heard of. A few days earlier we had caught part of a televised bullfight in the bar of a hotel we were staying. We watched transfixed and fascinated for a while. I’m not sure which Spanish city the event was being relayed from but the bullring audience was packed into the available seating, clapping and cheering each time the bull made another charge. I can only assume the bullfight was being broadcast because there’s a significant audience for it in Spain. As we stood there watching with dozens of others in our bar we could certainly understand the fascination and theatre of it all. The handsome, skilful and beautifully-dressed matador, the large, dangerous, muscled, majestic but enraged bull and the brightly-dressed matador supporters in the bullring make for compelling and compulsive spectacle. There was no apparent physical cruelty in the part of the ‘fight’ we watched, no picador goading that causes such obvious pain and injury to the bull, enraging it further. But the very impressive animal was clearly exhausted, panting from its earlier charging but holding his ground, watching as the matador turned his back to walk confidently away to pick up a sword which, presumably, he would hide behind his cape before delivering the coup de grace in the next and final charge. We left the bar before this expected horrific televised event, shaking our heads sadly and agreeing that we’re still not as civilised or advanced a species as we often imagine. The tide does seem to be turning, however, as there is a growing vocal movement slowly winning change in Spain. More power to them.
We walked to the river to investigate an obligatory new city river cruise. Well, Paula is a Drake! We boarded a large boat along with a coach party or two but the tour turned out to be short and uninspiring despite being recommended on two travel sites. As dinner in Spain is taken very late we had booked to attend an early evening flamenco demonstration which was in parts extraordinary but the tiny venue in which it was held let it down. We finished our day with an appropriate tapas and (overcooked) paella dinner in one of the dozens of colourful tourist restaurants followed by a romantic walk home through the gently-lit, warm, narrow and busy streets of the old town.
Adiós Sevilla. We’ll be back.  ❤️ 
[Our photos of Sevilla are contained in the Portugal & Spain album set or can be accessed by clicking here.
Paula is wearing what I call her ‘Instagram dress’, see my earlier blog, ‘The new art of being photographed’.]
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