Last day in Seville.
We woke up very early. We had to catch a train to Madrid later on in the morning, and we wanted to go have breakfast in one of the neighborhood restaurants.
There are many such sidewalk restaurants all over Seville that finding one is very easy. The problem is getting back to where we came from. You see Seville is a very old city. It is at least 2000 years old … yes, it is founded at about the time of the birth of Christ.
So it is a very unplanned city. Maps are useless here. We get around by walking in circles and trying to spot landmarks to know the general direction. Yes, we got lost quite a few times and asking for directions is quite hopeless too because not many people speaks English here.
We decided to take a short walk to the Alameda de Hercules which is a delightful tree lined plaza. It is quiet in the morning but at night it is busy. At each end of the long plaza was two tall columns bearing the statues of Hercules and of Julius Caesar.
Not knowing which is best, we went to the oldest looking restaurant we could find. It is called the Badulaque. In the cold crisp morning we wanted to sit outside but did not.
You see, people smoke a lot in Spain. It was bothering us and so we decided to move indoors. This place does not speak much English too but it was not much of a problem. After 10 days already in Spain, we know enough words to get breakfast. Words like cafe con leche, jamon, tosta …
Cafe con Leche everywhere in Spain … is really good. Every place we went to, big or small, have a mean looking espresso machine.
They do take their coffee seriously and it seems like everyone drinks this for breakfast.
We also got ourselves a glass of orange juice. In Seville, when you ask for orange juice, they squeeze it fresh for you.
Breakfast is simple … it was toasts with tomato and toasts with ham — beautiful Spanish ham. They call it Jamon (pronounced as ha-mon).
We just love this type of simple breakfast. Well it is simple here in Seville but am sure if they serve this in Vancouver, people will go crazy over them.
The tomatoes were very cold but yet it was not frozen. It was kind of odd eating toast with cold tomatoes but it was refreshing.
Instead of butter or jam you find on the North American breakfast table, they gave us olive oil instead.
It was a cheap breakfast.
After the breakfast, we had a quick walk around the plaza and then started heading back to the hotel to get ready to leave Seville. This time we did not get lost!
It was a toss between walking to the train station or taking a cab. On the map it was about 1 km only but if we took a cab it will be 12 euros ($16 Canadian)! We decided not to chance it in case we got lost within the narrow and confusing roads.
Spain’s train system is very efficient although most of the instructions is in Spanish. The people who worked at the train station speaks English and were very good with dealing with tourists.
The person who manned the ticket booth made sure I understand that he wrote down everything he said on a piece of paper … the price, the destination, the platform and all that.
We took the Renfe high speed train from Seville to Madrid. At one point, this train was the fastest in the world but today it had been surpassed by other train systems.
Travelling by this train is not cheap since we only bought the tickets the day before. It costs almost the price of an airfare. However, travelling on trains beats flying anytime because it goes from city center to city center.
The train was comfortable, spacious and very clean. There were not a lot of people travelling on the train that day.
We could pick and choose our seats. We choose the middle section where there is a table complete with reading lights.
The ride was amazingly smooth even though it was flying at over 300 km per hour.
Beauty. They even have power outlets on every seat too. Too bad we did not have internet connection because I was kind of stuck not knowing what to do when we get to Madrid.
All I had was a travel guide book with some poor maps. Actually I was quite panicky because I have difficulty trying to pinpoint where the hotel is.
Oh … they even gave every passenger earphones too.
I thought that the onboard washroom was really spacious and clean. Fancy huh?
Yeah, we enjoyed this ride much better than flying Ryan Air’s cattle class from Barcelona to Seville.
The ride from Seville to Madrid took about 2.5 hours.
So we arrived at the Atocha Train Station at about noon. This is the largest train station in Madrid and it is beautiful complete with an indoor garden in its central plaza.
As beautiful as it seems, this station was where 10 bombs were set off three years after 911 by an al-Qaeda cell killing 200 people and injuring 2000. That event was Spain’s 911.
There is even a turtle sanctuary in the middle of the plaza.
We did not spend much time here and surprisingly we got to the hotel without much fuss. We were very glad to learn that the hotel lies smack in the middle Gran Via, which is like the Champs-elysees for Paris or Time Square of New York. Score!
I am very impressed with the Spanish people who takes their food seriously. Even the McDonalds here are better than the types we find in Canada and USA.
Anyway, after putting down our bags in the hotel room, we immediately headed out to get something to eat. Being quite disoriented and overwhelmed in a big city like Madrid, we thought we have a no fuss sandwich in McDonalds.
We thought that at least here they will speak English.
Wrong! We had a hard time telling them what we wanted despite letting pointing fingers do most of the talking. We got two sandwiches which costs 6.20 euros.
No Big Mac here … the sandwiches here looked a million times better. The above is called the CBO, Chicken Bacon Onions. The CBO is only available in Europe.
We also had something called the NYC Crispy which again is not available in North America. The “crispy” side of the sandwich came from the battered and fried onion pieces.
We actually felt rather sophisticated eating in a McDonalds in Spain. More tomorrow.