Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Day 6: Gibraltar and Seville

On Friday we woke up, had breakfast, and drove back to Gibraltar. (Banks, Nan, and the kids stayed back at the hotel to take a rest, so it was just me, Jason, Alyse, Tanner, and Dad.) We parked at a parking garage in La Linea and walked across the border again.

This time we met up with a tour guide with whom we had scheduled a tour. We got into his van and he drove us up to the pillars of Hercules, while telling us all about the island and its history.

It was really bright.

From there we drove to St. Michael’s Cave, outside of which we saw a couple monkeys and their babies. The baby monkeys were soooo cute and doing really cute things while they were playing.

So you can see how close we were to them. And those bars aren't a cage; they're just the railing along the sidewalk.

The caves were really cool; they were filled with stalagmites and stalactites and you could walk all around. They had some multicolored lights going on the whole time illuminating the stalactites and stalagmites. In World War II the caves were prepared as an extra hospital that was never used, and they’re now used for musical concerts.

Don't eat the monkeys.

From the caves we drove up to the very top of the rock. It was really cool to see the water so far below us and all around. The view at the top was really beautiful. There were more monkeys, too, which was fun.

Finally we drove to the entrance of siege tunnels. Way back in 1782, the British soldiers on the Gibraltar tunneled into the rock and blasted a couple holes in the side, then put cannons inside. So they could fire cannons at enemies on the outside, but they and their cannons were protected because they were inside of the actual rock.

View of Spain from the entrance of the siege tunnels
Dad and I got photobombed
In case you were wondering, Spain is this way.

After our tour we drove back to our hotel in Algeciras, picked up Banks and his family, and started our drive to Seville. The countryside was really beautiful, especially when we were in the Parque Natural Los Alcornocales.

The traffic got really bad as we got closer to Seville. It was bumper to bumper for several miles, and it took us an hour to go like 10 kilometers. Finally we were able to get off the freeway though, and drive through some really cool streets in Seville to get to our hotel.

We stayed at the Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville, and it was the most awesome hotel that I’ve ever stayed in. It was really, really grand and beautiful. King Alfonso built it in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, and he wanted it to be the grandest hotel in Europe. I think he succeeded (although, as Alyse told me, the building of the hotel was tied in to the unrest that preceded the Spanish Civil War).

We had all had the same lunch at the hotel. It was a meal that consisted of several different tuna dishes. I really liked the second-to-last dish, which was a kind of tuna stew, and dessert, which was a lemon tart. It was fantastic. I ate all of mine and finished off Alyse’s, too.

After lunch Dad and Tanner had to take the rental cars back to the airport, and Alyse wanted to take a break in her room, so Banks, Nan, the kids, Jason, and I wandered around the Barrio Santa Cruz. It’s a really cool area and just a couple blocks from our hotel is the Catedral de Sevilla, the third largest church in the world. (We went inside the next day). The buildings and streets are all really cool.

After an hour we went back to the hotel to meet up with everybody, then went back out again to eat some tapas. We’ve been wanting to do tapas since we got to Spain, but it just hasn’t worked out yet. So we finally got to!

We went to three different tapas restaurants. The first was on an upstairs patio that overlooked a square and part of the wall of the Alcazar, but the second and third restaurants were both a lot faster and had better food. It was super fun. I got to try chicken paella, too, which was good. I liked it better than the seafood paella I tried in Granada. We finished off the night (close to midnight) with some helado (ice cream). I got ferrero rocher flavor, which tasted just like the candy and was so good. I’ve been delighted with how many things are hazelnut flavor here.

And that was our first day in Seville!

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