Wednesday, 26 December 2007

Christmas in Seville

Those from northern climes take great joy from seeing the sun in winter: Sevilla is beautiful, with skies as bright as Australia and laden orange trees lining every street. The hotel is a wonderful old relic, once the finest in Spain and now a 'Westin'. Superbly ornate public areas and spacious bedrooms and bathrooms but the poor waiters now bring you 'American coffee' when you ask for 'cafĂ© con leche' and there's a Starbucks right outside the gates (and two more within 200 yards of the cathedral…..).

The cathedral's a magnificent Gothic creation which started life as a mosque like Agia Sofia; the largest cathedral in Christendom (note that St Peter's is a 'basilica'), so huge that 'Notre Dame could walk the nave with her head bowed'. The reredos is the largest of any in the world. Nevertheless, midnight mass on Christmas Eve was a disappointment - too many priests and too few carols.

We spent many hours walking the city and gardens and loved the Alcazar Palace (thanks, Ian) of King Pedro the Cruel and his mistress Maria de Padilla who built it in the 1360's.

We didn't spot a single Don Juan aspirant despite expecting to defend Kei's honour… and couldn't stomach a bullfight and had Japanese food on Christmas Day to avoid a nine-course spread in the hotel. There is a separately owned Japanese restaurant - Kaede - in the hotel garden beside the swimming pool - a nice touch. Another welcome idea was a Martini-themed pavilion on the terrace outside the bar in which smoking was allowed and where 'le tout Sevilla' gatherered for tea and drinks in the afternoons. There we had the best Manhattans we had ever tasted and proper 'pan con tomate' - toasted bread rubbed with tomato.

Click on the heading to see what the girls descended to on Christmas Day...

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