We’re spending a few days in the city which is described as ‘quintessentially Spanish’, and is the home of Carmen and Don Juan. Seville was founded by the Romans, but only really began to flourish during the Moorish period which began in the 11th Century. After Columbus discovered the Americas, Seville was awarded an official monopoly on Spanish trade with the New World and it quickly became one of the biggest, richest and most cosmopolitan cities on earth.
We did another short drive to get here on Wednesday, calling into Ikea at Jerez de la Frontera for lunch. Swedish meatballs for Greg, an assortment of tapas for me. The Ikea carpark has an immense solar panel array, which doubles as shade for the cars parked underneath. Jerez is a grape growing area and one of its main industries is sherry production – ‘Jerez’ means ‘sherry’! Jerez is also regarded as the ‘cradle of flamenco’, although Cadiz and Seville also like to make that claim. We didn’t stay in Jerez long enough to do any sherry-tasting or flamenco dancing, but we did visit the Avis desk at Jerez airport to try and sort out our rental car contract.
Avis in Europe has this weird rule that a car can’t be rented for more than 30 days, although it is possible to do it via a third party. Because of Avis’s rule, when we rent a car for longer than 30 days, they have to write 2 separate contracts. When we travelled in Central Europe last year, the guy at the Munich airport desk just did 2 contracts for us when we collected the car. This time, the guy at the Barcelona desk only did the 30 day contract and told us the subsequent contract would be emailed to Greg later. Greg has emailed Avis several times and got no reply. Well, the Avis person at Jerez airport wasn’t much help, the 30 days expires today, and now Greg is emailing again to try and sort it out. Yeah, Spanish (lack of) customer service bites us again.
We’re staying in an Airbnb house on the outskirts of Seville, at Alcalá de Guadaíra. It’s huge – 2 storeys, 4 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms and about a mile of marble floor tiles. It’s the first place we’ve stayed at on this trip that is actually someone’s place. I’d know that even if there weren’t photos on the walls and toothbrushes in the bathrooms, because this is also one of the few places where there have been hooks to hang bath towels and tea towels on, and it’s the first kitchen that actually has chopping boards! Sometimes it really is the little things. We haven’t ventured into Seville yet, but we went to the local shops here yesterday. Nice shopping streets with a large plaza pedestrian mall. It was very busy in the morning, with lots of people out and about, but Greg went back in the afternoon at around 5.30 and it was almost completely deserted. Apparently everyone here takes siesta time seriously!