No more lazy mornings! We are up early and head to the airport right after breakfast. Thank you Omni Aviation for supporting us in the plane arriving, and now leaving Lisbon, and for facilitating permission for Cátia and José to come out to the field to see the HondaJet. We met Olivier at the airport, were able to share the plane with Cátia, José, and then the Lisbon Airport media group arrived to see it as well.
The trip to Seville was a short 49 minutes. We had a quick trip into the old city and arrived at the Hotel Alfonso XIII. That’s when our jaws dropped and continued to drop for most of our stay in this beautiful city! The hotel was commissioned by King Alfonso to be designed and built as a place for visiting dignitaries...and is exquisite from top to bottom. We truly felt we were staying in a palace...and most importantly, the spirit of the place was gracious hospitality.
We ventured out to get our bearings, and were stunned at the heat! We understand the need for siestas in Southern Spain! But we wanted to see all we could today...looking first at how best to visit the Cathedral and the Alcazar (side by side wonders we will see tomorrow), and settled on a carriage ride to get a breeze, and to see the park that houses the buildings from the Exposition of 1929 in Seville. Andreas skillfully maneuvered his horse and carriage to get us as much shade as possible, and we even got a lovely dousing as we trotted through sprinklers in the park. Ah! relief. The buildings are beautiful, and we especially admired the Plaza de Espana.
And then...siesta time!
We had made arrangements to see a performance of Flamenco tonight...and had no idea what was ahead of us. We walked to Los Gallos, a small theater--a house really--with a ground floor room big enough for a stage and about 40 people. It felt like we were in someone’s large living room--an intimate group about to experience something together. As soon as the clapping, guitar, singing and dancing began we were wide-eyed and entranced! This was not a slick commercial display of flamenco...it was a group of 10 artists whose passion and skill were from heart and soul. We both found it very moving, and full of joy. We learned that Flamenco has evolved from many cultures (including Spanish, Romani, Moorish and more), especially of Southern Spain, and was arguably birthed in Seville. The format includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance), jaleo (vocalizations), palmas (handclapping) and pitos (finger snapping)...and a lot of energy and presence! We also learned that while UNESCO names physical heritage sites around the world, it also names regional art forms to a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity List, and Flamenco is included. I love that art forms and diverse cultural gifts to the world are recognized...and honored...in this way.
If you ever go to Seville, please check out Los Gallos: http://www.tablaolosgallos.com/!
There was a courtyard just in front of the theater and a restaurant with lights slung low in the trees, where we could hear the artists bring more music and dancing outside. We had a light dinner there before a midnight walk through the winding little roads in the Santa Cruz neighborhood to the hotel--in a dream!