vampyresheep: (shadow)
[personal profile] vampyresheep
Sunday - Real Alcazar and Plaza de Espana compete for my affections. the battle was probably instead won by Bar Alfalfa though.

Sunday, early start to get to the Real Alcazar on opening, my incentive for this trip! We'd booked the first tour of the morning of the Upper Palace rooms upstairs, so headed straight there. Good plan, as there were only 7 of us on that your (three of whom managed to wander off halfway through - the poor security guard, having to chase after them whilst at the same time look after the rest of us!). Stunning rooms albeit sparsely furnished but the tour was worth it to get a close up view of the incredible golden cupola of the Ambassadors Hall.

By the time our tour ended, the palace grounds were packed with visitors but as long as we avoided the herds of large tour groups, it wasn't too painful! A fascinating place, a complex of palaces going back centuries.
Currently known as the set location for Dorne, in Game of Thrones, one couldn't help but gasp at the first view of that garden, soon followed by the Maidens Courtyard, where many photos were taken.

The garden felt otherworldly. This was largely down to the exotic mix of formal garden with palm trees, creating a dramatic view which ever way you turned. We took lunch in the garden cafe, which was surprisingly good (Rob noted probably the best Iberico ham of the weekend, I didnt get a chance to try any though!).

After the palace, we set off in search of churros, finding the real old city /Barrio Santa Cruz that we failed to find the day before.

Unfortunately the churros stall was closed, despite Google's claim to the contrary, so instead we took a walk to the Plaza de Espana.
 All cities have some kind of grand plaza. This one was like no other. Located in a park (where we spotted lizards running round trees, squee!), it was spectacular. Beautiful tiling abound, including all the rails, bridges and waterways - a little canal traversing along its promenade, on which you could hire row boats - which we did, seeing the stunning structure from another angle.

After fully exploring, we set back towards the churros stall, via a scenic park walk, getting there just in time for its afternoon opening. The cook advised us to just order one portion between us, which was served with two cups of hot chocolate. Finally got to sit and experience this pile of tasty, sugary, battery wrong. :-) nothing like churros you get in the UK!

By now it was that wierd late afternoon time, and on a Sunday, where very little was open but we couldn't face drinking or eating anything else so we took a stroll through town via lots of churches to see what was opened. Most were closed but got to visit a couple to get a sample of Catholic baroque overload.
Iglesia del Salvador is an immense example of baroque overload. The mass of twisted golden forms around the altar felt almost oppressive, like an alien entity drawing you in. Impressive but a bit much even for me! They offered a combi ticket which included entry to the cathedral, as that was closed by now, we didn't think we could take advantage of this option but it transpires the ticket was transferrable to another day (how they ascertain this from a basic till receipt remained to be seen!), So this fell in neatly with our weekend plans.

(Jesus on the lav???)

Still too early to eat or drink, we had a quick coffee stop then went back to the Metropol Parasol to see it lit up at night.

We had planned to eat at Taverna Aguilas but contrary to Google, it wasn't open, so we stopped in a nearby bar instead. Bar Alfalfa. I want to live here!!! A cosy corner bar with 'locals' feel, although no doubt all the other clientele were tourists too. I discovered the Spanish tradition for drinks measures - there are no measures! Half a pint of local gin later, Rob decided we needed to seek out food as he was hoping for proper meal instead of tapas again. As our tavern of choice was still closed, we meandered downhill, ending up on a street near the cathedral.
I usually have a cardinal rule re holiday dining, never choose a place that's named after an adjacent tourist attraction. However in this case, La Giralda had good reviews online and is located in a former Turkish baths, so it seemed promising. Should have gone with first instinct! Our tapas were mainly bland, tough or tepid. Nice bread though! We decided not to get any more dishes and pop into another bar enroute for seconds - however it was getting later, so instead we went up to the bar I had to check out, Bar Garlochi.  This bar was renowned for OTT church décor virgin marys, flowers, bling and grumpy bar staff.  Correct on both counts!  It was sadly devoid of atmosphere, despite the gorgeous décor and drinks were stupidly expensive, so we did as everyone else did; stay for one drink, take photos and move on to somewhere more fun.

In our case, Bar Alfalfa just happened to be down the road, so we ended up back there until it closed being the last ones to leave!  In addition to the gin, I also had a lovely sherry and some OMG gorgeous orange wine, and nibbled on chicharones. Described on the English menu as pork scratchings, they were not what I expected being chewy and more meat than one would usually get on scratchings. Once we got over that difference, they were rather bloody gorgeous and a perfect accompaniment to molasses-sweet wine.

I was quite tipsy by the time we left and our hotel was the other side of town. Much fun was had trying to find our way back; if the streets werent so well lit and I didnt have my phone gps to rely on, I have no idea how we would have made it back. Rob was worried but I knew that drunken Aly-nav always gets there in the end!

The day's photos: morning and afternoon.
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