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Sevilla – Birgitta Walsh (Sandbox)

Sevilla

Birgitta would have loved it. I had selected the area near the Torre del Oro on the Guadalquivir River as the spot to start her new journey. There was a stairway that led to the water’s edge. I placed a small portion of ashes and climbed the stairs. Almost immediately a group of students showed up and gathered in the area just above the stairs They were about 14 to 16 years old and had some kind of group leader with them. Several off the boys pealed off their clothes and in their under ware jumped into the river. Climbing up the stairs to do it again to the cheers of the girls. There was another group of students on the bridge nearby cheering them on. One girl had bullhorn. I had noticed small groups of students around town earlier in the day and can only conclude it is the end of the school year and this is part of the celebration. A tour boat left the dock just up the river and sailed into the picture. Several racing skulls, 2 and 6-8 persons raced under bridge and joined the scene that only a few minutes earlier had been so peaceful. This all happened in 10-15 minutes. I can only conclude that they had come to help me celebrate her voyage. There are also several night tour boats docked there and two stands where girls in Captains hats were selling tickets. The Torre is a major tourist attraction it is now a Naval Museum. Built in 1220 it was the last section of the wall that protected the Alcazar. Sevilla was a major port. First under the Arabs and after 1492 the Catholic Governments. The Torre had a large chain that spanned the river and was the fortified site where the tax collector collected the fees to pass to the docks which were further up the river. There are several theories on how it got it’s name. One that it was originally coated in gold colored tiles. It was a major revenue source and some believe that is the the source of the Ore in it’s name. When we lived there in the 1970’s it was lit at night by yellow light that added to it’s luster, it actually appeared to be gold. Today the lighting is a slightly different not so flattering color. We had a couple of favorite places to eat in the area one with wonderful Sangria and another small bar with tributes to Hemmngway and James Michner who authored the wonderful book Iberia. They both were places we discovered when living at the Alphonso XIII, another treasure, the palatial hotel where we lived when we first arrived in Sevilla in 1971. The “Hemmingway Bar, as we called it, had the most wonderful stuffed peppers that our girls loved so we went there often. This week I searched the area around the Plaza del Torros and the two bars no longer exist. They have been replaced with others more modern but the sangria and tapas still exist. Then the hotel, the bars, the evening walks throughout the area where young people sat on the benches and strummed their guitars playing the wonderful flamenco music singing the haunting siatas that will forever link Sevilla to it’s Arab past mesmerized us. We had friends in the Barrio Santa Cruise the old Jewish quarter that still exists today. I visited the location of one favorite places the home our friend Ann Keen who lived in the barrio from the early 1970’s to the mid 1980’s. Today it is a one star hotel. We often had drinks at the Bar Modesto. I visited the bar this week and spoke to the owner who remembered Ann. One problem traveling with four children was finding proper education for them. With five other couples we started a school. A one room schoolhouse with 16 students. The school ran until the late 1980’s when it merged with another Sevilla International school. Birgitta and I fell in Love with this city and even after living many other places it was always one of our favorites. It was at the top of the list of places she wanted her ashes placed.

The Largest Gothic Cathedral in the world with the tomb of Columbus. Semana Santa (Easter week) the most magnificent religious celebration I have ever seen. The Sevilla Fair with the horses and the beautiful women dancing the Sevillanas. The Giralda tower built around the Arab minaret with a continuous ramp so they could ride their horses to the top and show domination of the Arabs in a unique way. All of these are worthy of stories of their own. I could joyfully write a paragraph of each of them but it is sufficient to note that they added greatly to out love affair with this magnificent city. All this ignores that it was also the site of two Worlds Fairs which added more beautiful buildings to the city.


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