Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Extravelganza- Sevilla & Milan




... the Deathly Hallows?
One of the Doors on the Cathedral

SEVILLA


Getting to Sevilla was a little tricky. My plane was late, I lost my boarding pass, then found my boarding pass, my host home woman had to leave her house before I got there, and I was lost in Sevilla for over 3.5 hours before I actually got in the apartment I was set to stay in (around 10:30pm). If it hadn't been for really nice employees of a particular hotel I roamed into to beg for help I probably would have never made it to the apartment. While it required almost an obnoxious amount of effort to get there and get settled in, I really enjoyed the next day in Sevilla.

A courtyard at Real Alcatraz
Walkway on the back of RA
I had one full day there. I spent almost the entire morning at an old palace call Real Alcatraz (RA). I spent most of my time at RA in the massive garden behind the actual house. I was too cheap to purchase an audio guide, so I mostly just roamed around with my camera. I don't really know the History of the palace other than it used to be home to powerful Arabs until some Spaniards took it over. That or the Arab inhabitants left...I'm not entirely sure. The architecture was really similar to the palace I toured in Marrakech. Right across from Real Alcatraz is a really pretty Cathedral. I tried to see the inside of the Cathedral, but I walked all the way around it and did not see any tourist entries marked. Perhaps it just wasn't open when I was there at about 9:30. I ate lunch near RA and the Cathedral and saw people up in the bell tower. I am a little sad I never figured out how to get up there, I bet it would have been beautiful.
A view of the Gardens from an elevated walkway

RA Gardens
Plaza de España
Plaza de España
During the afternoon I walked over to Plaza de España. It was gorgeous, but a little lonely. It was mostly being visited by couples and families. Regardless, it was nice to sit on the stairs, write some postcards, and soak up the sun. Afterwards I walked down along the river and back to my apartment to shower and do some final shopping. I also picked up some ice cream, which was absolutely a good decision. I don't regret it for one single second


Dessert (:
Because I had an early start the next morning, I decided to grab an early dinner at Catalina, the bar underneath the apartment. While I know I am not a very experienced tapas eater, I can easily say that the tapas I ordered here were the best I've ever had. One was some type of delicious broiled hamburger, bacon, cheese, and mashed potato type thing. The other was curry chicken with rice. I also got sangria since I loved the sangria in Madrid so much. I was not as big of a fan of this sangria, probably because it was stronger than the last batch I had in Madrid. I really like sweets so the Madrid Sangria wins for me. After dinner I went to a pastry shop to get dessert, I ordered entirely in Spanish too! While I did not remember as much Spanish as I was hoping to, I was able to do a large amount of small things in Spanish (such as ordering and shopping for souvenirs)I took my pastry and sat happily on the roots of a really huge tree. It was a really laid back and enjoyable day overall.

I think one of my favorite things about Sevilla was the fact that it sounds like 75% of everyone had a lisp when they said "gracias" by the end of the trip I just said it with a lisp too so I would fit in a bit more. Grathias por leer!

MILAN



A smaller church on the way to Duomo
The city was full of so much weird and
intriguing graffiti.
Getting to Milan took forever. First off, I had to leave my apartment at 4:45. Because public transportation doesn't run that early I had to take a taxi. The only issue is that none of the taxi services I called spoke English. When I tried to use my limited Spanish skills they were completely unhelpful because they would not slow down their rate of speaking, even though they knew I was a non native speaker.  I hit the road and started walking, just hoping to encounter a taxi at 5 AM; luckily I did. My flight to Milan went really smoothly though. However, My flight was not actually to Milan, it was to Bergamo, a neighboring city. This meant that I had to take a bus. and then the metro, and then a tram. All just to get to my host home. However, my host home experience in Milan was much better than my experience in Sevilla. I stayed with a married couple who actually came and picked me up at my stop because it was raining and they didn't want me to have to walk from their stop to their apartment. They were really sweet. Since it was raining I decided to stay in that evening. I took a much needed nap and took the opportunity to use their wi-fi to catch up on e-mails and get in touch with a few family members and friends who were curious about my travel status. I did leave the apartment briefly to grab what turned out to be a disappointing "genuine" Italian meal.

On the roof of the Duomo
The square in front of Duomo from atop the roof

Straciatella y Cafe.
Luckily, the weather cleared up the next day. Milan has never been known as a tourist town; fashion is its big thing. I walked to the Duomo di Milano, a really beautiful Cathedral. It took almost 600 years to complete, with construction starting in 1386. I went inside and stayed a while and prayed, and then I climbed the stairs to get onto the roof. The previous day's rain made the view incredible, there was no city smog! After spending a while at the church I got lunch at a pizza chain, it was really surprisingly tasty. I would have expected for a chain to have rather generic pizzas with the prime eating choices being at independently owned shops; I was pleased to see that this was not the case. However, the lady at the cash register was rude to me while I ordered, and she charged me for two slices of pizza instead of one. I didn't want to cause a scene so I just paid the extra money. She was a real jerk though. Afterwards I treated myself to real Italian gelato. In my opinion it wasn't very different from the gelato I can get here in Linz for half of the price. It was still delicious though. Very rarely will I say no to ice cream.
A view of the city,the mountains, and some statue-clad
spires from the roof of the Duomo
Duomo di Milano

I didn't feel like going back to the apartment quite yet, so I walked back over to the Duomo to snap a few more pictures. For those of you who have been anywhere even slightly touristy, you will know that there are people everywhere trying to sell you bracelets or flowers or other miscellaneous things like that. At Duomo there were guys selling bracelets, but also people that would try to give you corn to feed the pigeons. I really wanted a picture with the pigeons, so I figured I'd just go ahead and try it. The guy put corn in my hand and it was an instantaneous feeding frenzy. If I didn't know better I would say that the pigeons were MMA fighting on my arm. Then one landed on my head. He didn't fight with the others or anything, he just sat on my head. The whole time one of these corn/bracelet guys was snapping a ton of pictures on my camera. I got sick of the pigeons and eventually shook them all off and went to get my camera back. I flipped through the pictures and the guy asked me if I liked how they turned out. When I said I did he said "Good, now give me 10 Euro." I knew that was coming. I got out my wallet, pulled out 1 Euro, placed it in his hand, said thanks, and walked away. I never asked him to take my picture, he offered to do it (volunteer work, as far as I am considered), and I feel that 1 Euro is more than generous for the amount of corn I was given. I would say I feel bad about it, but I don't. After that I promptly smeared hand sanitizer all over my arms and went back to the apartment to take a shower. It was awesome, but I imagine those birds are absolutely filthy.

The next day I flew from Malpensa airport to Vienna, and then took a train home to Linz. I loved all of my travels, and I feel so blessed to have been able to see all of those places. It was really nice being home though.












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