Whenever we travel, we like to build in some “downtime” in our itinerary. This gives us time to relax and perhaps see some sights in our own time. While the personal tour guide concept on this trip has been a great idea so far, part of traveling is to mingle with the citizens of your host country. On this day in Seville, with nothing on our schedule, we slept in a little to catch up on our sleep a little bit. One of the few drawbacks of traveling in Spain is that their daily schedule stretches late into the evening. A lot of people are settling down to eat dinner there when most Americans are getting ready for bed. For us, our days have been pretty long. While we have been enjoying a daily siesta nap, that doesn’t compete with a good night’s sleep.
Plaza de Espana
After a leisurely breakfast, we decided to walk over and see the Plaza de Espana. This plaza was built in 1928 as part of the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. This Expo was important for two reasons. One, it was one of the first after World War I, at a time when Europe was still rebuilding its infrastructure. Second, it was Spain’s attempt to reconnect with many of the colonies it lost after the Spanish-American War in 1898. Unfortunately for Spain, the Expo, with focused on trade, came right before the Great Depression of 1929. But while the Expo was not successful, Seville was left with this wonderful plaza.
While there isn’t much to see in the plaza buildings, the outside architecture is a mix of Renaissance and Moorish. In many ways this mirrors other building we have visited. However, in this case the Plaza was designed that way, so the Plaza combines the different design elements into a wonderful integrated concept.
Another interesting thing about the Plaza is that Sevillanos (locals) visit the plaza as much as tourists. We saw a yoga class, joggers, bikers and small children out with their parents. Of course there were many tourists in the plaza as well. Everyone was out enjoying the beauty of the Plaza on a bright sunny June morning. It is a great place to sit and “people watch”.
Maria Luisa Park
Adjacent to the Plaza is a large public garden called Parque de Maria Luisa. Most of this part was originally part of the gardens of the Palace of San Telmo, but was donated by the Duchess of Montpensier for use by the public. There are several monuments in the park, including an outstanding sculpture to the Seville poet Gustavo Adolfo Becquer. There is also a less dramatic monument to Spanish author Miguel de Cervantes, creator of the character Don Quixote. Wide streets transverse the park, and horse drawn carriages are available for hire for the tourists. The park seems to be a botanical garden, with exotic trees and plants. At one point, DJ and I saw a large green parrot in a park tree.
This park was a wonderful place to stroll and enjoy the weather, scenery and mingle with locals and fellow tourists alike. The trees offered shade from the hot Spanish sun, and it was a great place to sit and “feel” like a Sevillano for a little while.
Metropol Parasol (AKA “The Mushrooms”)
The last stop of the day for us was the Metropol Parasol. This large structure is located in an old barrio in Seville, and claims to be the largest wooden construction in the world. In basement of the structure is the foundation remains of Roman and Moorish buildings, complete with mosaic floors and fire pits. Afterwards, we took the elevator to the top of the “mushrooms”. There we found a bar, a restaurant, and multi-leveled walkway with 360 degree views of Seville. There we enjoyed our last night in Seville with a cool evening breeze.