Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
After a week in Arabia and before a conference in Madrid, I took a long weekend in Andalusia in the south of Spain. I read in Colin Thubron’s book, Mirror to Damascus about the thriving Arab dynasty in Andalusia and when we travelled in Central Spain in 2003 we saw lovely examples of Arab architecture so my curiosity was piqued and I took the opportunity of time and proximity to finally visit.
A French friend (Patrice who I met in Oman) joined me and we started our adventure in Sevilla. He made friends on his flight with 2 women, one French and one Mexican, so we spent the afternoon together, speaking a strange melange of French, English and Spanish.
We started with a tasty lunch of tapas and cerveza in a plaza near the Cathedral. My cab driver from the airport was very friendly and kindly spoke very slowly to me so that I could understand his Spanish. He advised me on where to eat and what are the local delicacies so it was on his advice that we chose our lunch. The sun warmed us, the blue skies and ripe oranges on trees in the plaza delighted us, the tasty tapas refueled us and prepared us for a lot of walking.
We started in the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Sevilla which is the largest cathedral in the world, and is registered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. We were amazed by the incredible height of the ceilings (42m), the enormity and beauty of the organ and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
My main purpose was to climb the bell tower (la Giralda) because it is the original minaret of the Almohad Mosque that pre-dates the cathedral (the minaret was built in 1184). The Catholics added a weather vane on top, hence the name Giralda.
The towers that I have climbed elsewhere in the world have stairs but this one has ramps with about a 30 degree slope and there are about 42 ramps to the top (it’s 105m tall). The panoramic views offered are delightful and well worth the climb. I struggle with fear of heights on towering staircases so for me the ramps made me much happier!