Part 1: Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Seville, Spain
Mumisode of the Day: During the last few days Mum has been writing the annual Halliday Christmas letter. She always takes great care in the composition and editing of this letter, and had it printed this morning as we were leaving Albufeira. This evening, as Gemma was having a look, she noticed a spelling error on the first line. Mum could hardly believe it, but there it was: The Hallidays on Hoiiday.
As mentioned yesterday, Mum was very keen to get to Seville and to the washing machine so we didn't waste any time leaving the hotel or on the drive to Seville. We did however, waste a significant amount of time getting to our apartment, or rather parking the car and then finding the hotel on foot with the mound of luggage in tow. Our apartment is right in the centre of Seville; it literally looks a the Moorish gate that leadsinto the courtyard of the cathedral. Being in the centre, means that the narrow streets through the old town pose quite a challenge. One wrong turn and the distance to the destination can jump from 400m to 3.6km. After our second attempt we were able to drive past the entrance, only to discover that there was nowhere to park. Claude led us to an imaginary parking garage, and then once again we found ourselves on the outside of the old quarter. At least there was a blue P. It's funny how much hope one can find in these simple signs.
Leaving the car, we emerged into the Seville sun with no real idea where we were. Gareth and Dad both agreed on the general direction and so we set off with the bags in tow. Dad continued to stare at his Blackberry, and after many narrow laneways there was the spire of the cathedral, another symbol of hope for the day.
Mum set straight to work on the washing; pretty much everything we have with us needs a wash. Gemma and Dad set off through the shopping district on a mission. In accordance with Dad's earlier agreement to get his hair cut by 'the Barber of Seville' (a sustained joke between Mum and Dad with allusions to Gioachino Rossini's opera, The Barber of Seville), Dad needed to find a barber in Seville. He was found! On the top floor of a department store. Gemma had a great time in the department store while Dad was having his hair trimmed and hardly recognised Dad later, such was the dramatic transformation.
Slowly, we are adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle. Gareth has the art of the siesta mastered. Dinner tonight was not started until 9pm. Spanish tapas under the trees. The Christmas lights are on at last and Seville definitely knows how to do Christmas. The lights are in many colours and styles; some look like giant chandeliers and the streets are just fantastic to wander, all crowded with people and really beautiful. Lots more to explore tomorrow.
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: London, England
Blue sky and sunshine in London, a beautiful morning to wake up to! Following a long and fantastic breakfast at the Hilton, we checked out and left our bags with the concierge and then walked from our hotel, across the London Tower Bridge, towards the Tower of London. Soon after buying our tickets we joined a tour group that was being led by a Yeoman Warder who was absolutely fantastic. David particularly likes the British humour and therefore this guide was the highlight for him.
My highlight was definitely seeing the Crown Jewels that have been on display since the 17th century. The dazzling beauty of the various crowns, orbs and sceptres was incredible. I can now say that I have seen the two biggest cut diamonds of perfect clarity in the world. Interestingly both were cut from the same stone found in Africa. The larger of the pair was placed in a golden sceptre and is an astounding 537 carats! I can't even begin to imagine what this collection is valued at!
David finally got to go through a torture museum which was exciting (for him). The word 'macabre' comes to mind when I think of the various instruments of torture that were used and I don't really want to dwell on or pass on the detail of what we saw.
On a lighter note, today was also the day designated to seeing Shakespeare's Globe Theatre. We boarded the 'Thames Clipper' and disembarked right outside the theatre. On the opposite side of the bank loomed St Paul's Cathedral which proved to be an interesting contrast to the theatre. Opened in 1997, the Globe Theatre has been designed to perfectly imitate the original theatre with the exception of more fire exits and sprinklers attached to the thatch roof. Also of note the current theatre has toilets, which the original did not. The tour was very informative and once again our guide had a fantastic British humour that David appreciated. Such a valuable experience for me as an English teacher and David loved it too.
After a decent visit to the Globe Theatre shop (with a few purchases made) we set off for our final destination of the day, The Rydges Hotel in Kensington. We have purchased an 'Oyster Card,' which is essentially a fancy weekly pass for public transport, so catching the underground was pretty effortless. The hotel is fantastic and I have already unpacked as we are here for six nights. Brilliant!