A view from the Guadalquiver
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It’s easy to think of Seville as just another Andalucian city with a flamboyant cathedral, cobbled streets and flamenco flowing from the tapas bars, but this is a city graced with a beautiful river, the Guadalquivir, that adds much to the pleasure of both local people and visitors.
The best way to experience the river is to take a trip one one of the well equipped boats that cruise the waters, offering glimpses of well known landmarks. It is a perfect antidote to a day or two spent sight-seeing in the city, the leisurely pace giving plenty of time to get a perspective on the river, one side of which is thickly cloaked in lush greenery and flowers, oleander, bougainvillea and jasmine, the other side dotted with pavement cafes. Nowadays the river is home to a host of sporting clubs and its towpath is used by cyclists, joggers, power walkers, parents with prams and just strollers like me.Once one of the greatest ports in Europe, Seville was the point of entry for the gold and silver that poured in from the New World and for the tobacco and the other new crops that had been discovered in America. As your boat meanders slowly up and down the river, you will see many of Seville’s major landmarks starting with the Tower of Gold (Torre del Oro), so called because it was the depository for the gold from the New World and used to be covered in golden tiles. You will see the Maestranza Bullring, the second largest in Spain and one of great importance in the history of taurino, a blindingly white building highlighted with splashes of red and gold, and you will see some of the Pavilions of the 1929 and 1992 Ibero-American Exhibition and you will catch glimpses of the famous Giralda Tower the symbol of Seville, St. Telmo Palace, and the Triana area.
Spanning the river are nine bridges, some of them of architectural interest and some historical interest. Barqueta Bridge is one of two built for Expo ’92, held to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the discovery of American by Christopher Columbus. This gleaming white structure spans the Guadalquivir with elegance and is the main entrance to Cartuja island where the Expo was located. Most of the island is now covered with offices but the Cartuja Monastery, where Columbus is said to have spent his last few nights in Spain prior to the voyage that led to the discovery of America, still stands.
The other bridge built for the Expo is the Alamillo Bridge It’s ultra-modern design in stark contrast to the architecture of the rest of the city. Designed by famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava its appearance adds a touch of sophistication to the ancient river. For those who like the charms of an older period, the Triana bridge will appeal more, especially if viewed on a calm Seville night when it is illuminated.
If your time on the boat has left you with an urge to explore the riverbanks, then stop for a fino and tapas at one of the many cafes on the pavement, maybe have some seafood at one of the al fresco restaurants, or cross the Triana Bridge into Calle Betis and enjoy the street life.
Seville is noted for its many tapas bars which are useful for older folk whose appetites are frequently small. Tapas are small dishes of very tasty foods and one can have say, a selection of six or more small dishes each costing about 1 or 2 Euros. If in the mood for roaming, try a couple of dishes n one bar before moving on to another for another couple. That is the Seville way, and it is known as ‘tapea’ – to take tapas.
There are numerous Tourist Information Offices in all the main areas, all of them distributing good free maps and literature as well as having computers for hire.
The train station is a delight, clean and airy with two excellent restaurants. Buying tickets to travel onwards to Granada and Crodoba is easy and the trains have regular announcements in English as to the upcoming stations.
Highly recommended is the Seville Pass which gives entry to most museums and places of interest plus the above boat trip and the hop on hop off buses that depart from near the Torre del Oro, priced at 60 Euros for 72 hours or 29 euros for 24 hours.
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This review is solely based on the opinion of a Silver Travel Advisor member and not of Silver Travel Advisor Ltd.