The Bear is Back!
Now that I am able to travel again, I am taking full advantage, and this time I am off to Andalusia in the south of Spain. Every experienced travelling bear knows that the hot month of June is not the best the time to visit the south of Spain, but for reasons I won’t bore you with, I could not choose the date of my visit.
My itinerary was centred on Sevilla, but the only direct flight was with Ryanair leaving at 0700 from Stanstead so instead I took BA to Malaga. I arrived to an easily bear-able (sorry!) 26C and picked up my hire car. Instead of taking the direct route along the motorway, I opted for a scenic drive across country, passing through the pretty “white town” of Alora before heading into the mountains to El Chorro, the starting point for the famous “Camenito Del Rey” walk.
The 8km path clings to the side of a sheer cliff with spectacular views down into the gorge. When planning this trip, I had been disappointed that all the tickets for this popular walk were already sold out, but when I stopped to take pictures, I soon changed my mind. Walking for two to three hours in the afternoon heat would have been very unpleasant, and it was much nicer to enjoy the scenery from the comfort of an air-conditioned car.
The road left the mountains and headed across rolling hills, planted with olive trees or grass. The open views and empty, fast roads gave a sense of freedom and being on holiday. I accelerated across the empty landscape to join the main motorway leading into Seville. I found my flat easily, and more importantly found the underground parking next door – parking on the street in Seville is impossible. My apartment was in the Triana district, just across the river from the historic centre.
After checking in, I hurried straight to the Alcazar, a fifteen-minute walk that felt longer in the 35C heat. I noticed that almost everyone I met was wearing a face covering. I checked on my phone and indeed, this was required by law in Spain, so I reluctantly slipped on my own mask – which of course made walking in the street even hotter and sweatier.
Fortunately the Alcazar was worth the effort – it is a palace built for the Christian kings of Spain from the 14th century onwards, over a period of 500 years. Many architectural styles were used in its construction, but the most beautiful parts copy Moorish architecture.
I tried to dodge the intense sun beating down onto the palace’s courtyards, spending my time in the beautiful Moorish reception rooms……….
…..before heading for the famous gardens.
Even though it was now seven in the evening, the sun seemed even stronger than in the mid-afternoon. In the afternoon, my hat protected me, but now. whenever I had to leave the protection of shady trees, the sun hit me with a ferocious broadside that roasted my whole body and soon had my fur drenched in sweat.
I left the Alcazar Gardens at closing time, and walked backed through small, winding and shady side streets to the centre and the cathedral, a huge structure that dominates the city and which I planned to visit another day. I stopped briefly for a well-deserved drink in a small traditional bar, decorated with typical Andalusian tiling, before heading back to my flat. There are very many bars and restaurants in Spain, which spill out onto welcoming open-air terraces on the street. The law allows people to take off their face masks when sitting down to eat or drink, making an already popular pastime even more widespread amongst the Sevillanos than usual.
On my way I saw an ice-cream seller and could not resist ordering some to try to cool down. I soon realised my mistake – the refrigeration unit was not up to the challenge of the heat. My two scoops of vanilla and strawberry were already melting, and streams of sticky liquid ran down my cone. I had to gulp it all down quickly before the whole thing disappeared, and got my paws and arms covered in gooey liquid.
I was relieved to reach the cool of my flat, where the air conditioning had finally kicked in to offer a welcoming 21C respite from the heat. I rested for a bit after a hectic day before heading out for a pleasant dinner of tapas at a neighbouring bar. The Triana area was very busy, with the streets full of people sitting on terraces and talking animatedly. It was still hot, but now – at 10 in the evening when most locals go out – pleasantly so. It was a nice way to unwind after a very busy day.
Sorry, no photos me today – with my sticky sweaty fur I didn’t feel very photogenic. An internet celebrity like me needs to carefully manage their online image!