Saturday, April 11, 2015

And on to Madrid

Our final night in Sevilla was spent across the river in Triana. Like Friday night anywhere, the bar scene was going full tilt along the entire walk from our place to the bridge, the busiest of which was O’Neil’s, the faux Irish pub at the very end of the Arenal district. The change of the demographic along our route was the most striking aspect – young to middle-aged tourist in the old quarter, slowing giving way to neighborhood families, many drinking and smoking with kids on their laps, to the chic set, young professionals in the glitzy outside bars along Calle Arjona, near the bullfighting ring. Cigarettes to cigarettes and hookahs was the simpler progression.
But once across the river, it’s low rent working class life, quieter and more interesting.
We chose the restaurant next to the last place we’d eaten on our last trip over. No reason other than to try something new. We ordered wine and beer along with ham croquettes, fried cod and a plate of tomatoes and olives, sitting back to enjoy the street life. Three young men came and played a corrida, one on guitar, one singing and one clapping, collecting euros from the patrons before moving on the next restaurant. A large yacht, hosting a private party and lined out in blue lights was inching up the river, just about in time with the current, before doing a 180 and heading back downstream. La Giralda and the Torre de Oro gleamed in the distance.
The busser came by as we were getting ready to leave and we got chatting about where we were from. It started when he overheard us talking about Nairo Qunitana, the Colombian cyclist, and then continued when he asked where we were from. “There’s a New Mexico?” he asked. From that answer it was a long discussion about border politics, immigration, violence and drugs.
It was late and since I was pretty sure my favorite bakery, Horno de San Bonaventura, would be closed, I dragged MLW across the street to a churreria on the far side. The air inside of his kiosk was hot, oily and smoky, in spite of it being open on 3 sides. A big vat of oil was in the center and hovering over it was what looked like a giant stainless steel tea pot. I ordered a 2 euro racion and the cook tipped the spout of the tea pot into the oil and dispensed a long rope of raw batter. A minute later, voila, a nicely sized helping of piping hot fried dough to fortify us for the walk home.


Perhaps the one downside to this apartment is the 11AM checkout time, made bad mainly when you have a 13:45 train. But we made the best of it, saving our packing for this morning and then heading back to the mid-Constitución Starbucks for a coffee. We met Macarena a bit before 11, encountering some Americans waiting to get into our building to drop their bags at the apartment next to us. Before leaving we had a look at it - two bedrooms, bigger kitchen and living room and a private terrace – perhaps something to consider for the future. We bid adieu to her on Mateo Gagos before settling in for a late breakfast of bread, cheese and ham along with a couple of glasses of the most amazing freshly squeezed orange juice.
Having yet another hour to kill we took a walk around the cathedral, figuring we’d find a taxi at a different stand for a change. Just across the square we found a little street improvisation Flamenco going on - singer, dancer and guitarist in the middle of a number. In all the time we’ve spent in this city, and in all the streets we’ve covered, this was the first time we’d found this happening. We stopped and watched and donated a euro to their pot. The dancer was good, a bit cruder than the professionals we’ve paid to see, but heavy with style and emotion. Her dress was a bit shabby and it was clear from the polka dotted trailer tied to their bikes that they traveled lightly, but what a performance and given the cost of admission, a true gift for our parting.






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