We drove into Seville on Saturday with all our navigational technology in hand (maps, two guide books, Mick’s Blackberry tuned into Google maps). We had quite an armoury. We still managed to get hopelessly lost in the centre of a maze of laneways which turned out to be about 3ks drive from here but about 1k by foot. We had to phone our hosts who spoke Spanish and who didn’t couldn’t figure where we were or how on earth we had got there. Eventually they came on foot and saved us, driving us back to our apartment.
The Portugese win hands down on attitude to tourists. The Spanish (in Seville at least) seem intent on being as unhelpful as possible. The tourist office was reluctant to give us a map of Granada, our next stop, and when we asked for two there was a lot of rolling of eyes and sighing. The woman serving (I use the term loosely) us then asked us where we came from. I was expecting this to lead to a bit of chitchat about the weather and the world Cup – but she simply entered us into her database and turned away. Reminds of the French 30 years ago.
We have had one or two nice exchanges but they have been rare. It’s more disinterest than directly abusive. At lunch today I was ordering tapas and three beers. Well was that a fiasco. The barman was proud of his efficiency and appalled at Mick and my inefficiency. It didn’t help when I asked for three beers and help up four fingers. In his eyes that confirmed my ignorance of both the language and my numeracy.
They have a tram in Seville. It’s a big one which runs down the main avenue and connects the cathedral with the University. It’s the only line in the whole city and runs 1.1 klm – about a five minute walk. The Sevilleas shrug their shoulders and mutter about stupid politicians. It’s universal.
Had a great night at a Flamenco bar last night. No cover charge and cheap drinks. We were the oldest people there partly because it didn’t start until 11pm I suspect, and other mature (nice word that one) tourists were safely tucked up in bed (as were Mick and Mally) by then. The Spanish (and Portugese) body clocks are mad. It’s not uncommon to see a family out promenading or eating at 10;30 or 11 at night with their young children.
Churches are on every other corner and vivid images of “Mary” in glazed tiles on almost every wall of the city.
One final story.
A Portugal story - We witnessed a fracas on a tram in Lisbon between the tram driver, a screaming passenger and a “gypsy”. The driver stopped the tram, locked the doors, came down the aisle, exchanged a few minutes of abuse with the “gypsy” unlocked the doors having summonsed a policeman who just happened to be on the spot and ejected the gentleman without, it appeared afull hearing into the matter – though that may have occurred as part of the extended shouting.
To finish off - three words:
Seville is exquisite.