Thursday, April 14, 2016

Travel Day, Apartment #4

For years we’ve managed to travel with two legally-sized carry-on bags and relied on apartments with washing machines to keep our spartan clothing supply read-to-wear. On the home leg we’ve cursed and said “we need to do something different next time” because we always end up with those same carry-on bags stuffed to bursting with magnets, scarves, art and whatever else caught our eye while roaming around wherever we happened to be. This year we’ve thrown in a leather jacket, a museum quality catalog, a 300-year-old ceramic tile and lots of goodies for a special granddaughter. So instead of cursing the laws of physics on our last day, we were able to do it today, our third apartment departure in as many weeks. But truthfully, it’s a problem I really can’t complain about having.
This trip is winding down. I was setting some parameters on my camera this morning and it judiciously informed me that this was day 21 that the camera had been set to travel mode. It’s a nice feature - the time zone setting means every photo gets the right time stamp - but what an odd add-on to also have it keeping track of how many days you’ve been gone. I’m not sure whether I was more surprised that the camera was telling me this or that it’s been 20 days. Thank goodness for our neighbor Mary who makes all this away-time possible.
The bags were packed with an hour to spare so we went off in search of the newspaper and coffee. The newsstand told us to come back at 10:30 and Starbucks was mostly empty. We had a nice chat with the barista who knows us now that we’re leaving and we told her it was our 4th time in Sevilla and that we remembered her as the person who taught us that a shot of espresso in a drink is called a “carga.” She also surprised me the other day by talking to a Japanese man in absolutely perfect, unaccented English, making me wonder why over the past 3 years she’s made me struggle with Spanish.
 “Why would you come here 4 times?” she asked. We explained our feelings on the subject and she told us that her favorite place is Amsterdam. That exchange gave us fodder for a conversation over our drinks about how you really feel about the place you live and how almost certainly visitors see it entirely differently. It’s like going to a museum the first time – you skim what’s there and invariably when you get home you realize that you missed some very important Van Gogh. The second visit you see everything and third time it’s like you work there. Same as your place of residence, you see the junk, a visitor only sees the views and the ambience.
Macarena showed up a little bit late and we made our farewells. We caught a cab right out in front and had the craziest (in a good way) driver who almost blew a gasket when we missed 3 lights while some delivery truck tried to parallel park on an 11th century street. Not a problem, the Sevilla train station is close and easy to get to, once you drive back into 2016.
I had selected a feature when I bought our train tickets. “Silencio” is a car option that bans cell phones, fast food and every other annoyance of our modern age of travel. It was wonderful- no longer were we next to a grandma whose phone kept ringing and who never seemed to hear it until the 8th ring and whose every conversation consisted of “Vale, vale, vale, vale” all the way from Barcelona to Madrid. This was nice and peaceful and extremely civilized. Ironically though the car rattled like crazy, something we’d not heard before.
We arrived on time and grabbed lunch and coffee at a café in Atocha station. Our check-in time was 4 PM and we had about an hour to kill which gave us the time and a great location for people watching. MLW observed that the fashion in Paris was on a far higher level than that here. And Barcelona and Sevilla surpassed the Atocha offerings by a large margin too. Not sure why, this being the capital and biggest city in Spain but the difference was tangible. Maybe more tourists, maybe more provincials, who knows.
After a strange taxi stand experience in which the cabbies allowed long lines to form before moving forward, we got a cab and made it to the apartment in maybe 15 minutes. As always the agent was late, this time due to being blocked in traffic by a protest march. He wasn’t sure what they were protesting, because in his words, someone is always demonstrating about something around here. It’s our second time in this building, last year being the most amazing of rentals. It was on the top floor in what was probably a garret for some struggling poet in the 16th century, maybe Cervantes since he appears to have lived everywhere, with a roof shape that meant every ceiling started low and ended at the floor. It also meant doing laundry while lying on the tile floor and crawling around to get dishes out of the cabinets. This year there was a 3rd floor apartment open so I grabbed it and it’s far nicer. At least we can stand up in all the corners of the room.
We had a nice visit with Javier, the agent, and covered everything from Trump to terrorism to the hunting culture of Andalusia to why the people in the southern part of Spain are happy while the northerners are all “grumpy.” The answer is the sun.

After unpacking it was down the hill to the very close Corte Inglés for juice, yogurt, fruit and paper towels and now we’re sitting around trying to decide what gastronomic delight will be on the menu tonight.





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