Day One Hundred Twenty One - May 6
I did not think that we would be on a riverboat cruise today but that is what we woke up to. The pilot came on board Insignia at 05:00 to direct the ship up stream to the city of Seville.
The distance between Cadiz and Seville by car is approximately 98 kilometers or 61 miles. I am not sure what the distance is on boat but here we are sailing on the Guadalquivir River which connects the two cities of Cadiz and Seville.
On both sides of the river fertile farm lands can be seen. I made a comment to a passenger on deck that you would not see this in Western Canada or the US Mid West - grain silos with palm trees surrounding the property.
It is early Friday morning as we pass the city of El Puerto de Santa Maria (population 90,000) and you can see people stopping to get a glance at our ship. I do not believe it is not normal to see cruise ships traveling down the river but our ship is small enough to do just that.
Before we reached Seville, we entered the one lock controlling the water levels. With the help of a tug boat behind the ship, Insignia sailed into the lock and the back gate closed. During this time road traffic is diverted around the lock towards the road which is not closed. The diversion may be less than 2 kilometers.
Our arrival time in Seville was 11:30 and both Janice and I are anxiously waiting to go ashore to explore the city. Before the ship is docked we can see a line of cars and people walking across the bridge towards the fair grounds.
This is something we wish to explore before leaving for the city centre. Walking into the complex you can see many colourful tents (casetas). I learned that there are over 1,000 tents registered to families, groups of friends and business groups. These casetas which are literally restaurants will open in the early afternoon for the guests and will not end until the early hours of the next day with a lot of eating, drinking and dancing.
I will return to this event later as we wanted to make our way to the city centre and to the Royal Alcazar. On our way we went by the Provincial Buildings of Seville where the government of the day runs the daily business. Seville is the fourth largest city in Spain (population 700,000)and the capital of the autonomous community of Andalusia.
Spain is made up of 17 autonomous regions and further divided into 50 provinces.
We are now making our way to the Royal Alcazar in the heart of the city centre. It is best if you buy your tickets in advance to avoid lineups, luckily we were able to buy tickets for a specific time slot. With the summer season starting in Europe we wil need to be more proactive and buy advance tickets when we can.
The Royal Alcazar was originally built by Castilian Christians on the site of an Abbadid Muslim alcazar.The fortress was destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville in 1248. Today it is recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with the adjoining Seville Catherdral which we did not visit.
The rooms within the Alcazar have descriptions of what each room was but with no furniture. You can see marble tiles which were used on the floors and walls though. There is one floor that is off limits to the public and is used only by the King and Queen of Spain when they come to Seville on official business.
I was disappointment with the gardens on the grounds as they were not manicured. The gardens were large enough to allow the royalty of the day to walk within the castle grounds without seeing the public. Very large and I'm sure were very beautiful in their time.
It was now time to walk back to the ship for a quick dinner before wandering out to the Fair which is called La Feria de Abril but was in May this year and was the first one in 3 years due to Covid. Janice and I with three other friends wanted to see it at night with all the lights.
The casetas which I made mention to earlier are crowded with people eating, dancing and singing. They will continue to the very early hours of the next day. Our ship was far enough away to not hear the music.
Most of the women were wearing a traditional dress called a traje de gitana It looked like each dress was individually designed as no two dresses were the same. All you saw was beautiful bright colours many with polkadots. Janice took alot of pictures and I will download some from the fair.
The men were also handsomely well dressed in dark suits.
We only walked two streets down and up as they were all the same. Everyone was being extra merry and lots of smoking. A massive Covid spreader if there ever was one. No one was wearing masks except for Janice and I plus two of the three friends who came along.
We returned to the ship early because with the overnight we wanted to make an early start the next day by taking a train to Cordoba.