Me and my chums Ch and C board the train at Cádiz and head for Sevilla from whence they will depart the next day. I’ve become a real Spanish citizen by acquiring an old people’s travel pass for a mere six Euros. Our Airbnb is just off Plaza de Alfalfa – the flat’s freezing – ice cold marble floors which are like a skating rink. You can feel the cold through your trainers. We didn’t help the situation by putting on the AC instead of two rather small blow heaters. It’s pretty cold outside at night too. However, Plaza de Alfalfa is the perfect square with its orange trees, two outstanding bars, a playground and the odd musician strumming. I’ve been wondering what the hell is Alfalfa. Finally googled it and the most interesting thing about this “forage crop” is that the name comes from the Arabic meaning best horse fodder or horse power. Such a useful word when I start learning Arabic.
The Alcazar: We plunge in to the winding streets and head for the Alcazar. As my two buddies are gardening experts, we make the huge garden the focus of our visit. Ch has a beautiful walled garden in Yorkshire full of Clematis and roses and C has acres of land looking on to the snow-capped Pyrenees. The “English” garden is not at all like Ch’s, but it does remind me of the famous garden in the North West of Scotland – Inverewe. Pines and Palms form a happy union. There are acres of linked gardens to be wandered through – all with their own histories. Fountains and patios and orange groves and baths and grottos and mazes abound. There is a marvellous walkway which gives you a birds’ eye view of this little corner of heaven.
I was determined to give Murillo another chance – I read that he painted scenes from daily life as well as his more well-known religious paintings which can get quite repetitive and boring. However, we had a Murillo at home, at least it was a Murillo until I married an old-master art dealer who completely put paid to that idea. Dream spoiler! Fortunately, the Museo de Bellas Artes had a special Murillo exhibition for the 400th centenary of his birth of just 50 paintings and many of them from the more realistic genre. Whoop whoop! It was, indeed, magnificent and I think if Murillo hadn’t fallen off his ladder (fatally) at the age of 35 he might have been known as a different sort of artist and not so closely associated with that dreary Ribera and the much less dreary Zurbaran.
Next day was change over day. Away went the Cs and in came VBG and another C.
Sight-seeing conjures up horrible images of tired feet, queues, boredom, guilt, bafflement, duty, martyrdom and a whole lot more. I do still feel a certain obligation to torture myself into ticking every box and hold imaginary conversations with my x husband about what I have seen, where and ‘Oh My God did I miss the Murillo in the chapel of Sta Maria!’ The dual facts of an upbringing which centred around duty and guilt PLUS a husband who could sightsee for 12 hours without sitting down has turned me into a confounded, freaky sight-seer. I hate it! I love it! None of these emotions assaulted the new team VBG and C. Not a bit of it - they had no intention of going in to the cathedral “queue far too big” so we walked round the outside three times and that was pretty brilliant!
Can’t believe you missed the Murillo! And can’t believe you love gardens! You really are getting old! X