Part 1: Gemma, Gareth, Mum and Dad
Night Location: Seville, Spain
Mumisode of the Day: Mum scared the life out of herself today by pushing the doorbell to our apartment instead of the light in the hallway. She has been known to do this before, but it just keeps getting funnier.
No alarms were set this morning, and although the odd carriage and 20 minutes of tolling wake up bells may have disturbed the sleep, Gemma and Gareth did not emerge until after 11 am. It is amazing how tired all this travelling can make you.
Given the close proximity of our apartment to the cathedral, we thought it was only right that we explore this first. Seville has the largest Gothic cathedral in the world. There are 80 chapels within the complex, many antechambers and a gorgeous oval shaped chapter house. More importantly it also houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
Gareth and Gemma climbed the Moorish bell tower. Instead of steps, you walk up 30 ramps and a single flight of stairs at the top. The tower is the tallest structure in the old part of Seville and so provides a fantastic view over the city. Our roof terrace, the Alcazar palace and gardens and of course the bells were all photographed. We had timed it fairly well and so heard the bell ring three times, incredibly loudly, and so close. Returning down the ramps, we found Mum and Dad in the cathedral courtyard filled with orange trees. This would provide such a shelter from the heat of summer, but the brilliant sun was welcomed today.
The Davis Cup is currently being played in Seville. In fact, we seem to be having a lot of luck with major events, heads of state, national holidays, and so on. Unfortunately, due to the visit of an important dignitary, the Alcazar palace was closed. This did not deter Dad initially as he thought that there must be a sneaky back door entrance into the garden. We circumnavigated the crenellated wall, walking through alleys and into public gardens. The closest we came to getting in was Dad offering to give Mum a boost over the wall. Mum quickly said that Gareth should be the one thrown over the wall, however, Gareth wasn't overly impressed as he would then be the one ending up in jail.
Returning home through the Christmas markets and crowded streets, we made a quick lunch and then ate up on our roof terrace in the sun. The terrace is really beautiful. It has a great view of the cathedral and the various rooftops. It was so wonderful in the sun. Gemma and Mum spent a lot of the afternoon up here while Dad and Gareth had a siesta. Mum spent a great deal of time trying to sketch the cathedral but a tricky urn made the perspective challenging.
That night, we attended a traditional flamenco show in Seville. The performance was quite intimate with only 100 other people sitting on three sides in an internal courtyard. The guitarist was just brilliant but the vocalist caused quite a sensation. He sang in such a way that he appeared to be in agony. Two small children found this very funny. The dancers themselves were amazing. They move their feet so quickly and in perfect rhythm. The flamenco skirt adds a certain flair, however the facial expressions are very serious.
After the show, Dad took us on a walking adventure to the river. The Christmas lights were on and absolutely beautiful. Mum, Gareth and Gemma all enjoyed some Hagen-Daaz, very Spanish, for dessert.
Part 2 - Amber and David
Night location: London, England
After a massive breakfast at our hotel, David and I jumped on the Tube and headed for Hyde Park Corner. Hyde Park is absolutely massive. It is a lot more expansive than what I had first thought. We walked to the opposite corner that is 'Speaker's Corner' but unfortunately there was no religious fanatic in sight, nor was there a soap box which was a little disappointing.
Since arriving in London I have been quite taken with the black cabs and the red double decker buses. I know, it is a very touristy thing to admit, but I can't help it! It is as if we have stepped back into the 1930s! Anyway, today marked the day when I boarded my first red double decker bus AND we were able to sit on the top level in the very front seat! It was an awesome way to see London. So much so, we missed our stop near Buckingham Palace, and ended up at Victoria Station. Not to worry, we boarded another red double decker bus and headed back the same way we came, this time getting off at Green Park station!
A casual stroll through the park, that was indeed very green, and there in front of us was Buckingham Palace. This very exciting moment was somewhat overshadowed by a small squirrel that was nosing its way across the grass. I have not seen a squirrel since I was three, so I may have taken photos and proceeded to talk to it!
The flag was flying above the Palace, which meant that the Queen was in, but sadly she did come to greet us, but instead stayed inside behind the white curtains and the many guards. From here we walked down The Mall to Trafalgar Square where we were greeted by bagpipes. Not my favourite instrument but I guess the busker was doing the best he could.
After a quick snack at a café (mainly because I was needing to go to the toilet), we boarded another red double decker bus (that makes three for the day) heading in the direction of Westminster Abbey. It was here that we had the privilege of attending an Evensong Service. Not only did we participate in the service, but we were also seated in the very beautiful choir stalls, a few seats away from the choir that was made up of young boys and middle-aged men. The music was breathtaking. The choir sang with such clarity with so many varied and interesting harmonies, it is hard to even speak about the sense of peace that swept over us. A truly worshipful experience. Not only this, but the pipe organ that we were almost directly underneath concluded the service with a magnificent piece of music that was so moving it almost brought me to tears. An unforgettable hour of our lives.
David had booked tickets to 'The Complete Works of William Shakespeare - Abridged' so after a quick change we boarded another train and eventually found the New Red Lion Theatre that was essentially a pub with a small stage in one corner! An absolutely hilarious performance where the cast of three performed all 37 of Shakespeare's plays (some in more depth than others!) and made mention of his sonnets! Hamlet was performed three times, the last of which took roughly five seconds!
And yet, the night was still young! On our way to the theatre we had coincidentally seen 'Jamie's Italian' - Jamie Oliver's restaurant, and sure enough, after a short wait at the bar, a table for two was ready for us. Oh, how we love Italian food! We ordered the Capresé salad (Gemma, try not to be too jealous, but yes, it was to die for), a wild mushroom panzerotti with chilli, thyme, ricotta and parmesan, and a serve of ice-cream and sorbet for dessert. David wants to go back to this restaurant on his last night in London in late December so that he can start and end the holiday with the same cuisine. Happy to oblige!