Living with intent, social engagement, learning, growing, giving
After a rapid tour of the Cathedral of Sevilla before it closed, we queued at Real Alcázar (Royal fortress) and palace for entry. It was nice and warm in the sun (about 35C) and I regretted not having any sunscreen lotion with me but on the other hand it was great to receive some vitamin D! My new Mexican friend kindly bought us some bottles of water to imbibe while we waited in the unrelenting sunshine. The queue moved quickly and before we knew it we were in the cool sanctuary of the palace and gardens.
The palace was built by Arabs and is an outstanding example of Arab architecture. They achieved the amazing feat of creating a cool, calming, stupendously beautiful place that has withstood the millennia and the Christian takeover and is now protected by UNESCO. It was very popular and it was difficult to properly enjoy the delicate carving and plaster work because of the throngs of tourists but still well worth visiting.
The upper levels of the Alcázar are still used by the royal family as the official Seville residence and are administered by the Patrimonio Nacional. It is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe, and is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
The palace reminded me of the palaces I visited in central Spain with courtyards that have long pools, screens to block women from view while giving them views, and orange groves.
Some nice Arab features remain in parts of the palace where geometrical shapes and calligraphy are used to create beauty without ever depicting any living organism. Conversely the other parts of the palace are heavily decorated by Catholics with murals covering the walls. For me the Arab aspects are beautiful and captivating in their understated methods that bring tranquillity and coolness whereas I find the Catholic aspects overly ornamented.
From the gardens we strolled towards the river and sat in the evening sunshine enjoying a slight breeze from the river and a local Cruzcampo beer. It was really nice to connect with those 3 friends and spend a lovely afternoon together in Sevilla. The Mexican and French woman both work in hotels in France and have regular experiences serving Arab couples that rent a fancy room for a month, the man goes out each day to train with AirBus while the woman remains in the hotel suite all day long. They were intrigued and fascinated to hear about my experiences in Arabia as a foreign woman.
By the time that we had visited the cathedral and palace, our new French and Mexican friends were flagging in terms of energy and took every chance they could to sit down and rest. It became evident that we were pushing them too hard and when you see the posts to come you will agree that it’s best that they didn’t join us over the next 3 days because we set a cracking pace.