So. We went to Seville this past weekend. It’s about a 2 hour drive, and I hadn’t been there before. So we piled into the car, had screenshots of the directions saved (since we don’t have good data plans on our Spanish phones), and we were off. Getting to Seville is a piece of cake . Finding parking once your in Seville should be an Olympic sport. One that requires years of training and preparation, dedication and hard work, all pulling together for that one perfect moment when you arrive in Seville and…you spend an hour driving around the teeeeniest streets you’ve ever seen cars driving on, following useless sign after useless sign that promises parking but clearly doesn’t live up to its promise… until finally you find an underground lot that says it’s full, but you decide to check it out anyway, and there are the smallest spots you have ever seen and you’re really glad you don’t drive an SUV because parking the Ford Fiesta is hard enough…and then there it is…the parking spot you’ve been waiting for, right next to the stairwell three floors down, with ample space because of the wall.
After that, you don’t even really care about seeing much of Seville any longer.
But really, the streets are so tiny.
So anyway, let’s have some history since that’s what this blog is about. Did you know that the Vikings invaded all the way down to Seville? Those bloody ingeniously ambitious vikings have been everywhere. In 844, about 50 years after they first began raiding and conquering Northern Europe, their longships made it to al-Andalus, which was the part of the Iberian Peninsula ruled by Muslims (now called Andalusia, and conveniently, where I live). They sacked Lisbon, Cadiz and Medina Sidonia, and captured Seville. But the Muslims rallied and effectively counterattacked. After that, the Vikings kept raiding in Andalusia (presumably the weather was more attractive than Northumbria, though one wonders what they would have made of the August heat with all their furs and facial hair) but the we’ll never have Viking names like Berwick in Spain because the Muslims successfully fought back all the raids. You don’t mess with the Moors.
So let’s go back to now. So there you are, driving around and around in circles on teeny tiny streets for an hour while the toddler in the back seat can’t stop yelling “Aldi!” her new favorite place to grocery shop, and husband is trying to figure out where the parking-signs-to-nowhere are meant to be leading you. And then you find the Holy Grail of parking, and you drive three floors underground, and you get the stroller out, and you gather up your stuff, and then you walk up the steps, and then BAM! – you are in the middle of a massive main shopping street with Sephora! and a giant bookstore! and all sorts of shopping heaven.
And then nearby is the Cathedral, and next to the Cathedral is the Archives of the Indies, this awesome museum/archive where you can see all sorts of records about the Spanish
discoveries colonization conquering extermination of natives whatever you want to call it in the Americas. Which is pretty cool. Not the conquering bit. Seville was the port from which Columbus left in 1492 – which is always surprising given that it’s not on the coast – but the powerful Guadalquivir river extends down to the sea, and it was this river on which he sailed his three boats, saying goodbye to Spain and hardly anticipating that he would one day have a major city in Ohio named after him.
And seriously, this is a Big Deal to me because I live in a tiny town – there’s a Starbucks next to the Cathedral. That was more of a draw for me than the Cathedral, which I’m really embarrassed to admit, but there you have it, living in a small town in Spain has gone to my head. As a side note, I’ve started using the name Julia at Starbucks since they have absolutely no idea what to do with Heather. I’ve received cups that say Heber. Or Haber. Or Habar. All varieties. Now I just say Julia, and I get a cup that says Julia. I have to remember that’s my Starbucks Name, though.
And then, because you know you’re going to spend another hour or two trying to get back out of this city because you’ve been turned around so many times you don’t know which way is down, you take your iced mocha goodness and head back to the car, frustrated and grumpy because of all the time wasted looking for parking, and the cranky toddler who missed her nap, and next time, you vow you will take the train.