Monday means the crowds in the streets are down to a more reasonable level. We took advantage of that by starting with a trip to the Constitución Starbucks to use their WiFi to post my last blog. The connection in the apartment has been dodgy since we arrived and last night it just plain died. While I find all the articles talking about how the WiFi in the rest of the world is so superior to ours in the US, in my experience the performance of those systems is so spotty that no American would tolerate it for one minute. Polemics aside we walked down there and waited for about 90 seconds before leaving, choosing instead to go to their location at Puerta de Jerez. There was a big scrum of people at the Constitución store composed of Chinese students who, even when abroad, do not understand the concept of an orderly approach to the counter. Then, once there, their language barrier coupled with their natural inclination to ask and question everything, meant we would be standing in place for another 20 minutes. The Puerta store was empty and playing classic jazz so there we sat.
Later, having returned my laptop to our apartment we walked up Tetuan and down Sierpes, the two main boutique streets that lead from the Ayuntamiento to Alfonso XII, the main street through the center of Sevilla. There was no shopping in mind, other than the window variety, and it’s always fun to look – European stores have a completely different variety of things than we do. Next we cut over to Corte Ingles for some groceries before heading home for lunch.
I’m not sure I’ve ever explained Corte Ingles other than to say we shop there. Every major city has a few of them, and in some places like Madrid and Barcelona they have 3 or 4 them facing the same square and dedicated to different purposes. There are two here, one bigger that’s a bit more of a trek and ours which is still a walk but not a bad one every day with bags.
The basement is dedicated to the best grocery store you’ve ever been in. Both in terms of goods and variety. La Grande Epicerie in Paris has cooler food offerings, but like Whole Foods you can’t really do a whole shopping there. They don’t have dish soap and paper towels and Kleenix. This store does have the best selection Spanish wines, most of which will never make it to our shores.
The first floor in this branch is dedicated to small appliances, and there is even a mini Nespresso boutique. From there on up it’s like any other major department store – clothes, linens, consumer electronics, etc. In Madrid one block at the Puerto del Sol location is a dedicated book store. In short, Corte Ingles is pretty darn cool.
After lunch we wandered around a bit even though clouds were rolling in and it was starting to drizzle a bit. I wanted to find a square – Plaza de las Cruces – where three iron crosses are mounted on ancient Roman pillars, which we did with very little problem.
And then it was on to Sevillarte, our absolutely favorite store in the Barrio. I wanted to show the proprietor a photo of some tiles he sold us that we had mounted in the plaster next to our back door. He was politely interested until I pulled up my jacket sleeve and showed him my NO8DO tattoo on my arm and he lit up, “I remember you, you’re the people who love Sevilla.” We stayed for about an hour talking about politics and La Feria and his upcoming trip to Cuba with 60 (!) family members. It was a wonderful time standing and chatting in Spanish and English and laughing about all sorts of stories. One more example of why it pays to try and truly connect with people, no matter where you go.
The weather cleared up around Tapas Time so went out for another roam around the neighborhood, this time looking for a museum built around excavated 15th century docks, the very ones that ships bound for the New World used for repair and provisioning. The book said “at the time of this writing the museum undergoing renovation” but since it dated from 2011, I figured it was worth looking into. Well, it now appears to be abandoned judging from the feral cats and the pile of garbage behind the big iron gates blocking its entrance. Alas, I guess not everything gets renovated.
For dinner tonight it was back to La Giralda, the café under our apartment where we had our very first meal on our very first trip here. We repeated that experience with Duck Magret and changed it up a bit with Patatas Don Miguel – steamed potatoes swimming in garlic aioli and topped with a big slab of smoked salmon. We stayed well past the food until the cigarette smoke from two chain-smoking Chinese boys sitting by the front door drove us off (they were still there when we came back an hour later) on another stroll around the area, this time up to Plaza Jesus de la Passion and then back down Constitución stopping first at Horno del San Buenaventura for a few of their signature Polvoron cookies. They have a history that extends back to 1385, and they’ve been in business in their present form since the 17th century. The girl behind the counter and I had a nice exchange in Spanish, she telling us that we speak a bit and can actually understand her.
We planted ourselves once more on the benches at Puerta de Jerez for some people watching. Tonight, we started to see people dressed up and crossing the bridge for the opening of La Feria. Men in suits, a few women in Flamenca dresses, everyone duded up. Fireworks are tonight at midnight and the fair begins in earnest tomorrow at 10 am.
You know where we’ll be.