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Orange trees are everywhere

It's hard to overstate the grey of Utrecht, which somehow feels more pervasive than even London, with only a few hours of daylight, and weather considered "nice" when it's not raining sideways. Flying into Seville, I could feel my body relaxing as I saw groves and groves of orange, olive and palm trees. The sun was out, the sky was blue, the buildings were orange and people didn't have their shoulders hunched up.

Orange building across the street from mi casa

More orange. This corner is so sharp that even my careful Uber driver's Corolla almost didn't make it.

Once again, this lapsed Catholic, though even lapsed implies a level of commitment that was never there, has arrived in a Mediterranean country during an important religious festival. Last time it was Holy Week in Malta, this time the Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Panty hose, high heels on cobblestones, fur, feathers, purple, velvet, hats, helmet hair, men with neatly clipped beards and blow dried hair. They had just got out of church and were either sitting at cafes or standing at tapas bars, many generations together, so relaxed, enjoying each other's company, giving me a feeling of being a gate crasher on a private event. They seemed relaxed, present, happy. It was late in the day after hours of wandering that I found out about the procession. The spirit was in, the body wasn't.

Prepping for the procession


Wicked old church

Wicked roccoco church

I'm grateful to be staying in Macarena, an up and coming neighborhood about a 25 minute walk away from tourist action. There are six or seven apartments in my building, with an open air marble, plant filled courtyard in the middle, each apartment two floors with a winding metal stair case. It's mostly silent, though once in a while there will be an interesting sign of life; a funky cell phone ring, Spanish TV soaps, laughter, and the other day, a man with a very good voice belting out a tune. And of course bells, churches competing for attention and even attendance, there's an insistence about them. The neighborhood is mostly older people, ladies pushing shopping buggies or throwing out that pail of dirty water onto the street after they've mopped the tile floor. Some dog owners carry not only a poop bag, but a plastic squirting bottle full of soapy water, used after their dog pees.

Long vests are a thing here, as is perfectly done hair and face. And smoking.

It took a couple of days to get acclimated to this new place. Mirroring a favorite dream, the alleyways go on forever, there's always a new way to get downtown or walk home, with things to discover every time. Today it was a store that sold beautifully embroidered fabric trim. But the cerado from 3-5 is real, pretty much the only things open at that time are restaurants, so I'll be going back there, if I can find it. There are outdoor cafes under orange trees on almost every corner, mostly populated by old men drinking beer at any hour, though there's no appearance of drunkenness.

Old Spanish men doing their Old Spanish Man thing

Meat chunks abound.

More my vibe

The fresh and prepared vegetables are remarkably good, and cheap. 3 kilos of oranges for 3 euros. I found the quality bread, cheese, tomatoes, olives, anchovies, marinated peppers and the salty beans that everyone eats while sipping on a pilsner. A nice change for the bod from the many (delicious) variations of cheesy bread in the Netherlands.


I read that the Immaculate Conceiver was 13 or 14 when she gave birth

Insane amount of silver and gold

Today was tourist day, starting with the neigbhorhood church that my Uber driver had, using hand signals, told me was beautiful. It was unlike anything I've seen, even after touring the churches of Malta, both in terms of the amount of silver and gold, and also the condition of everything, so perfect. Frescos across the ceiling looked brand new. It was enough to help me decide to skip the Cathedral of Seville, the "largest in Christendom".

Instead I went to the bull fighting ring. There are a few places I've been, Ephesus and Tulum come to mind, when I've been somehow able to feel the people that inhabited them, so long ago, and it was the same with the bullring, which unllike the other two, is still active. While there was no bull fighting going on today, there was a feeling of what it would be like with all the people sundrenched and maybe a little drunk, yelling at the matador and the bull, hoping their bet would pay off. Maybe Ernest Hemingway even made the trip from Pamplona. Like the church, it was in pristine condition, making ti clear that this beautiful old building, and bull-fighting, is a city-wide priority.

In the ring!

Cool old poster

Pristine, more orange

In the Bullfighting museum

Entrance where the matador comes in, door on the right is opens to the bull pen

Poor old sod

I wouldn't be able to get my arm into the pant legs, they're so tiny

I felt like. had to go to the Plaza de Espana, originally luring me to Seville when I google imaged the city. It's so big that it's hard to photograph in a way that shows scope, but it has a beautiful curve, lots of tiles and arches and police on horseback. There was Spanish music with castanets playing which somehow brought it to life.

I think it was some kind of World's Fair thang

Tiles, all tiles. And Santa

Another World's Fair building

And another, now a musuem

My aunt, who will be turning 90 and the reason I've stopped off in Seville, is perhaps better travelled than anyone, and doesn't shy away from criticism about places she's been. She called Seville a gentle city, and I think that's just about right.

More delicious orange and oranges

The matador outfit store is finally open

Much of Seville is stuck in a beautiful time warp


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