Saturday, February 15, 2020

Cycling Europe 2019 Day 12: Discovering Seville & The Flamenco

                                     AhPek Biker - Riding Adventures                                   
Cycling Europe 2019 Day 12: Seville & The Flamenco
Portugal, Spain & France: Day 12 Thursday, 7th November - Around Seville
This is part of a cycling tour of the Iberian Peninsula (Portugal & Spain), covering some cycling & a walking tour in Seville:
Cycling Distance: 6 km.     Level: Easy
Time : 9:15am to 10:15am
Time Taken : 1 hr. (including waiting for rain to abate, & lots of photo opps.)

This is page 10 of a 20-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D10-11 Faro & Seville    |    Go To Other Days      |      Go to D13 Cordoba >

Route Recommendations :
1. Traffic Directions!
    On the Continental Europe, vehicles are left-hand drive, so cycle on the right. And do remember the traffic directions at road crossing. Also note that often cycling lanes run next to pedestrian lanes at town and city areas, at crossings there are separate lanes for pedestrians and bicycles, so stick to the correct lane.

2. Route & Traffic Conditions  
    In the morning it was a short ride along the Alfonso XIII Canal branch of the Guadalquivir River reaching up till the Puente de San Telmo. The ride was cut short by rain and we looped back via the Puerta de Jerez & the Seville Cathedral.
    Later we followed a free walking tour which started and ended near the Seville City Hall, after which we walked around to view more of the city center ourselves, and also got entertained by a couple of Flamenco dancers.,
3. Weather
     Morning temperatures aSeville averaged 13°C, and afternoon and evening temperatures averaged 19°C & 15°respectively. There was short spell of drizzling in the morning, and intermittent light showers in the afternoon.
    It is always prudent to check the weather for the next day so as to know what to expect and be prepared for it. Useful weather forecast sites are BBC WeatherAccuWeather, and for more detailed weather, including cloud cover and wind speed, use Weatherspark and Ventusky.

4. Places of Interest
    Along this route were several places of interests, some of which we visited and others we did not for lack of time:

Cycling along the Guadalquivir River riverside:
  1.  Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla (Maestranza Seville) (GPS: 37.38599, -5.99840), a bullfighting ring.
  2. The Paseo Alcalde Marquies del Contadero cycling/walking path running along the riverside.
  3. Torre De Oro (Tower of Gold) (GPS: 37.38241, -5.99648).
  4. Puente de San Telmo (San Telmo Bridge) (GPS: 37.38122, -5.99547).
  5. Puerta de Jerez Square (GPS: 37.38258, -5.99337).
Free Historical Walking Tour Sevilla (guided until item 11, self-walk after that):
  1. Monumento a Fernando III El Santo (GPS: 37.38862, -5.99559) at Plaza Nueva
  2. Ayuntamiento de Sevilla (Seville City hall) (GPS: 37.38866, -5.99448).
  3. Robles Laredo Building (GPS: 37.38914, -5.99423).
  4. Monumento a Cervantes (Cervantes Statue) (GPS: 37.38939, -5.99394).
  5. Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador (Collegiate Church of the Divine Savior) (GPS: 37.38996, -5.99286).
  6. Cathédrale De Seville, Catedral de Santa María de la Sede (Seville Cathedral, Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See(GPS: 37.38582, -5.99310).
  7. Plaza del Triunfo (Triumph Square) (GPS: 37.38572, -5.99226).
  8. Plaza Virgen de los Reyes (Virgin of the Kings Square) (GPS: 37.38609, -5.99221).
  9. Plaza Santa Elvira (Doña Elvira Square) (GPS: 37.38487, -5.99048).
  10. Sabor a España (niche garden in the hotel)  (GPS: 37.38487, -5.99048).
  11. Calle Susona (Susona Street) (GPS: 37.38463, -5.99037).
  12. El Balcon De Rosina Sevilla (The Balcony of Rosina Seville) (GPS: 37.38482, -5.98862).
  13. Seville Jewish Quarters (GPS: 37.38618, -5.98896).
  14. Paseo De Catalina De Ribeira (Garden pathway) (GPS: 37.38354, -5.98816).
  15. Monumento a Cristóbal Colón (Monument to Christopher Columbus) (GPS: 37.38348, -5.98790) at the Jardines de Catalina de Rivera garden.
  16. Universidad de Sevilla (University of Seville) (GPS: 37.38075, -5.99123).
  17. Hotel Alfonso XIII (GPS: 37.3815, -5.99278).
  18. Flamenco dancers at the Fuente De Hispalis (Híspalis Fountain(GPS: 37.38247, -5.99342).
  19. Palacio de San Telmo (San Telmo Palace, Andalusia Parliament Building) (GPS: 37.38024, -5.99362).
  20. Hard Rock Cafe Seville (GPS: 37.38245, -5.99276).
  21. Cinco Jotas Arfe, Sharp corner building (GPS: 37.38636, -5.99640).
  22. Wash Day Arenal (GPS: 37.38735, -5.99995) coin-operated laundry.
  23. SeeByBike (GPS: 37.38769, -5.99967) a Seville bicycle tour company,.

5. Meals
a. Breakfast: self-made at home-stay.
b. Lunch: Cold tomato soup, Paella rice, sausages & gizzard with chick pea, chicken & pork stews with fries, batter fried Halibut fish with fries, lemon ice-cream, mousse, coffee aCafeteria San Fernando (GPS: 37.38205, -5.99111).
c. Light Dinner: Cold tomato soup with Jamón ibérico (Iberian Ham), bread crumbs with Chorizo (Iberian sausage), corn flour prawn fritters, beef medallions, and Vino de naranja (Andalusian Orange Wine) aTaberna Álvaro Peregil (GPS: 37.3861, -5.99055).
d. 2nd Dinner: Pulpo Gallego (Spanish Galician Octopus with paprika), Paella rice, and heart of artichokes at Taberna Belmonte (GPS: 37.38616, -5.99029).
6. Accommodations
    Two nights aGalera Donkey (GPS: 37.38755, -5.99866) in Seville which we had pre-booked through, a three bed rooms for 8 adults at €211.42 for two nights  (or €13-20 per pax per night). Our bikes were allowed to be brought into the apartment.
    Address: Calle Galera 20 2A, Casco Antiguo, Seville, 41001, Spain.
7. Communicating with Each Other
    When travelling in a group it's important to be able to communicate with each other, especially if one got lost.
    We bought pre-paid SIM cards from UK mobile provider Three on-line through Lazada. As some of us stayed for a shorter period, we got two plans with cost ranging from RM30 to RM70 for a 20 days 4G and a 30 days 10G plans respectively. These plans include their "Feel At Home" package which allow the phone's data, call and messaging allowance to be used in sixty countries (mostly European and also Singapore) without any extra charges!

8. Communicating with Locals
    In Spain, except in rural areas, many young locals can speak some basic English and communicating with them shouldn't be a problem. This is especially the case in hotels & restaurants.
    When communicating with locals is a problem, this could be partly overcome by using translation apps like Google Translate. Do install this app into your phone and before you leave on your tour, do some basic translation as it will be saved onto a list of recent translations.
    Look out for the tourist information booths at airports, railway stations or bus stations, the guides manning the booths speak very good English and do give good tips on where to visit, directions, train and bus schedule.

9. Navigation
     Unless he or she is very familiar with the locals routes, the tour leader should carry a GPS units. It will also be good if another member of the team carry another GPS unit should the leader's one go faulty.
    Kevin was using a Beeline navigation unit that synchronized with pre-planned routes on his phone app. Sin & me were using the Garmin GPS units and had pre-plotted our daily routes into respective GPX maps usable in these units. We had pre-loaded the PortugalSpain & France Maps together with GPS coordinates of our destinations. Do ZOOM out to look for turning points further ahead; and ZOOM in at complicated junctions, otherwise one may make a wrong turn (it did happen to us sometimes).
    Alternatively, download the MAPS.ME app together with the relevant country maps. This app can be used offline.
    At the towns and cities, we used Google Maps to navigate to various places of interests that were not shown on our GPS units. In Spain, Google Maps does work in Cycling Mode.

1. Service Your Bicycles & Carry Tools and Spares
    Before leaving on your tour, it will be good to service your bike and bring along some spares like tubes, puncture patches, brake pads and the relevant tools.


The previous two days we had traveled from Lisbon to Faro by the Comboios de Portugal Train, and then from Faro crossing over from Portugal to Seville in Spain by the ALSA Bus. While in Faro, one place which we did not missed was the Capela de Ossos (Chapel of Bones) where the shrines are built from bones of past monks who had served the church and chapel.
Our cycling had only been from our home-stays to and from the bus/train stations; so today we tried to scratch our cycling itch by doing a bit of riding at the Guadalquivir riverside. In the afternoon, we joined the Free Historical Walking Tour Sevilla.


Cycling Route: Galera Donkey>Plaza de Toros>Guadalquivir Riverside (Canal de Alfonso XIII)>Torre del Oro>Puerta de Jerez>Seville Cathedral>Seville City Council>Galera Donkey.
Cycling Distance: 6 km.     Level: Easy
This is a short route with an easy cycling along the Alfonso XIII Canal branch of the Guadalquivir River reaching up till the Puente de San Telmo, and then looping back via the Puerta de Jerez & the Seville Cathedral.
The icons in purple are Seville attractions we visited during and after a walking tour.

After having hardly done any cycling the past two days, our cycling legs were getting really itchy, led by Sin we went for a morning stint. It had started to rain, but undeterred we donned our raincoats, and starting from our home-stay we cycled out and took a short cut (with a bit of pushing up steps) that cuts through the Plaza de toros de SevillaSo here we are at the taking a photo at the plaza for keepsakes. This plaza is a 12,000-capacity bullring. During the annual Seville Fair, it is the site of one of the most well-known bullfighting festivals in the world. It is a part of the Real Maestranza de Caballería de Sevilla, a noble guild established for traditional cavalry training.

From the plaza we crossed the Paseo de Cristóbal Colón road to ride along the wide walking/cycling path that ran along this main road; ahead we saw this circular ramp (GPS: 37.38347, -5.99768), which can be seen in front of us in the above photo .....

..... the ramp led us down to paths running at a lower level, along the banks of the Alfonso XIII Canal, a branch of the Guadalquivir River. It was a rainy weekday morning and the place was rather quiet. This riverside path is called the Paseo Alcalde Marquies del Contadero; it runs for one kilometer, starting near the Naves del Barranco and ending at the Puente de San Telmo (San Telmo Bridge).
Suddenly the drizzle became heavier, and we scooted to squeeze ourselves under the narrow shades of some small shopping stalls to wait out the rain. Ahead on the right can be seen the Puente de San Telmo bridge.

As we continued, further ahead was a small sand-stone tower, the Torre De Oro  (Tower of Gold) a dodecagonal military watchtower. It was erected by the Almohad Caliphate to control access to Seville via the Guadalquivir river.
Constructed in the first third of the 13th century, the tower served as a prison during the Middle Ages. Its name comes from the golden shine it projected on the river, due to its building materials (a mixture of mortar, lime and pressed hay).

It would have been great to continue cycling and explore more of the Guadalquivir riverside, but the rain came again and we decided to turn back, riding up this ramp leading up to the road level at the Puente de San Telmo (San Telmo Bridge).

At the Puerta de Jerez Square, stopped by to admire a black sculpture of a sexy lady lying above a waterfall fountain. To the left yellow tourists horse carriages were parked, idling while waiting for the rain to stop.

We swung left to ride along the Avenue de la Constitucion which is a wide main thoroughfare running along the historic center of Seville. The most famous attraction along this avenue is the Cathédrale De Seville (Seville Cathedral).

Heading back to our home-stay we rode along this platform that ran next to the MetroCentro tram line.
Oops.... a sign said "No Cycling" or perhaps it meant "No Parking of Bicycles"?

With a quick freshening up, we were off again, this time to the Monumento a Fernando III El Santo statue at Plaza Nueva where we met Belen, our English-speaking guide for the Free Historical Walking Tour Sevilla.
Lynne happily posing here with Belen, her name twin, see Lynne's Chinese name is Beeleng 😊.

Our walk took us next to the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla (Seville City hall) and then onward pass by the Robles Laredo Building. I have always been intrigued by buildings that occupy a sharp triangle junction that are similar to Times Square in New York; this one here has a cute building with arches and a candy-striped dome roof almost like it leapt out form a fairy-tale. On top of that we say a group of cyclists on a cycling guided tour which made our legs green with jealousy 🤑.

Some of the attractions we saw along the way:
The Monumento a Cervantes (Cervantes Statue). Miguel de Cervantes, the author of Don Quixote, a Madrileño who lived more than 400 years ago and whose criss-cross of adventures from Turkey to Algiers, and from Naples to Seville helped dream up the adventures of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

 Iglesia Colegial del Divino Salvador (Collegiate Church of the Divine Savior) with its unique pastel pink exterior.

Another interesting building with a blue Azulejo tile frontage and tiled sharp dome which reminded me of a similar sharp dome roof at the Dom Knigi (aka Singer Building) in St. PetersburgRussia. which we saw during a 2019 tour of Russia.

Seville is renown for bullfighting, although bullfighting is not so rampant these days, the city still have it's tie to this history; a walk along the city can be seen bull statues, paintings and even a bull made of hemp rope!

The tall bell tower of the Cathédrale De Seville.

Although a major part of the cathedral shows it's Baroque architecture .....

.. Moorish influence can be seen in the many arches of the cathedral.

 At another side, horse carriages lining the street seems to be throwback to a past era.

And then a cute & coiffured dog came running by, and brought us back to the present.

A shop selling Flamenco fans.

At Calle Susona (Susona Street) a skull emblem tells the tragic love story of Susona Ben-Suson, a young Jewish girl who fell in love with a Christian boy during strict period of the Spanish Inquisition,

On a lighter romantic mood, round the corner is the El Balcon De Rosina Sevilla (The Balcony of Rosina Seville); based on the opera tale of the Barber of Seville, where a lover climbs up a balcony ala Romeo & Juliet.

And we were back at the Ayuntamiento de Sevilla; the sun had peeked out for a better view of the building.

Along the Jardines de Catalina de Rivera garden was this 100-year old Monumento a Cristóbal Colón - a monument to Christopher Columbus, who although an Italian explorer and colonizer was sponsored by by Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, the Catholic Monarchs of the budding Spanish Empire.

We looped back to the Fuente De Hispalis (Híspalis Fountain). It was a nice, cooling place to hang around and after a while to our pleasant surprise a couple of Flamenco dancers started a beautiful Flamenco performance to the accompaniment of lively Spanish Flamenco guitaring. Above is a video of the dance we saw.

Another type of guitar was on display at this place we visited later - electric guitars.
Guess where this is?

Yup, you are right; it's the Hard Rock Cafe Sevilla.
Inside, the interior decor was totally un-American with bright yellow Spanish Talavera tiles!
Here I am, hard rocking to the songs that were being played there.
2:30pm - a late lunch of cold tomato soup, Paella rice, sausages & gizzard with chick pea, chicken & pork stews with fries, batter fried Halibut fish with fries, lemon ice-cream, chocolate mousse and coffee aCafeteria San Fernando.

The weathered had cleared and the sun had come out shining brightly giving us a bright blue sky; it was shining too bright and our photos came out with too high a contrast. Sin saw a puddle and had a good idea of taking a photo of the reflection of the Cathédrale De Seville. It came out beautifully but passer-bys must have been stumped on seeing a group of people staring into a puddle ... HaH!

At another corner, a performance of a different type: electric-operated dolls were playing songs! Too bad there was no Flamenco doll doing a dance.

After a short rest, a couple of us were out again. This time to do laundry at Wash Day Arenal, located at the Mercado El Arenal, a small neighborhood shopping complex; Sin had earlier noticed this coin-operated laundry nearby. Charges for a thirty-minutes 10kg wash was €4/- and for a 24-minutes machine-drying was €3/-.
Although we did washing almost everyday, it was manual washing; so it is always good to look out for these self-service laundries and do a proper wash and drying once a week if possible.

Within the same complex was the SeeByBike which operates on of several Seville guided cycling tours and Seville bicycle rentals. Being curious cyclists we popped by to say hello.

Dinner was interesting.... because we had TWO DINNERS!
First was a light dinner at Taberna Álvaro Peregil where we had Cold tomato soup with Jamón ibérico (Iberian Ham), Bread crumbs with Chorizo (Iberian sausage), corn flour prawn fritters, beef medallion. Here too we got to try the renown Vino de naranja (Andalusian Orange Wine), a sweet white wine macerated with bitter Seville orange peels.
Our second dinner was a heavier one at Taberna Belmonte; it's one of Paella rice, heart of artichokes, and  Pulpo Gallego (Spanish Galician Octopus with sprinkled with paprika powder).

Buenas noches!
(That's "Good Night! in Spanish)

Click here for a Relive bird's eye view of our Day 12 morning ride at Seville.
(For more photos of the Day 12, Click Here)
This is page 10 of a 20-page blog, Click Here To Go To Title Page.
Go to D10-11 Faro & Seville    |    Go To Other Days      |     Go to D13 Cordoba > 

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