Storks and towers in Ecija.
At nine o'clock we pulled out of Cordoba, just before another bus packed with old Japanese folks left the Occidental Hotel. Just in time, because Mark had become pretty fed up with them skipping queue at the breakfast buffet. ;-) Today we headed for Sevilla, the capital of Andalucia, but first we made two stops along the way. At ten o'clock we had a cup of coffee in Ecija, the 'town of a thousand towers', most of which seemed to be inhabited by stork nests. There were at least as many impressive balconies in this little village, which is also known as 'the frying pan of Spain' because it gets so hot here in the summer that you can fry an egg on the road. Fortunately the temperature was a bit more bareble with 27 degrees today.
Slightly further up the road to Sevilla lies Carmona, where we visited the Roman Necropolis, a series of excavations of Roman tombs, two of which can be partially entered.
Perhaps even more entertaining was watching the group of school gids yell and scream with a guide dressed up as an ancient roman. And of course the bloke that could only have been the local madmen, who claimed to be guarding the parked cars and showed some weird medal to prove it. After a quick view of the tombs and amphitheatre at the other side of the road from the top of the small museum we continued our way towards Sevilla.
Balconies in Ecija.
I have to say that driving through Andalucia is a real joy. Not only had I 'become one' with the comfy car by now, the signs and roads are also excellent around here. You rarely really need your navigation system since everything is indicated so very clearly. Besides that, the landscape you pass through is a real treat, ranging from the mountains of the Sierra Nevada, olive trees of the Jaen province and the rolling hills between Cordoba and Seville. We arrived at the Al-Andaluc Palace hotel at half past one.
A luxurious affair in all its aspects and a clear improvement from the hotel of the previous two days. Brilliantly built with lots of light and interior gardens this was a place that clearly serviced business clients too, making me feel almost out of place when I walked into the reception area dressed in Teva's and shorts with tribal tattoo prints and my Pineapple Thief shirt that simply has the text 'thief'.
Roman Necropolis of Carmona.
With lots of time left to fill the day we took a cab to the city center and after a cerveza and boccadillo (sandwich) we decided to visit one of the city's main sights, the Alcazar.
Like some other highlights we'd seen in Andalucia so far, the Alcazar is a combination of Muslim and Christian (Gothic) architecture.
It was originally built as a fortress in 913 and has been expanded and rebuilt many times since. The best part is the Muslim section called the Al-Muwarak, built in the 11th century and featuring lovely patios and as a highlight the stunning Salon de Embajadores (Hall of the Ambassadors) with a breathtaking wooden ceiling with multiple star patterns symbolizing the universe. Also very beautiful was the central patio de las Doncedllas. Pedro I converted this section into his palace in the 14th century.
Roman Necropolis of Carmona.
The Gothic palaces of Carlos V were much less impressive, but did feature some interesting huge tapestries depicting the conquest of Tunis, while another section of the Alcazar holds the first known painting of Columbus' discovery of America. Behind the palaces lies a huge garden with several sections, excellent for a relaxed stroll.
The warm weather called for a big cerveza at the Plaza Santra Cruz in the former Jewish section of town, Afterwards we wandered through the old part of town (El Centro) a bit.
Nowadays it's mostly made up of fancy stores, stressing the metropole status of Seville, with a church, square and Renaissance building here and there. But the church-and-plaza-fatigue was kicking in heavily by now so we decided to get back to the broad Avenida de la Constitucion near the cathedral for a couple of extra cervezas.
Amphiteatre of Carmona.
We had dinner in the Italian restaurant of the hotel this evening, after which Mark and I went for a couple of extra drinks in the hotel's piano bar. We got the scare of the day when we found that four beers were almost 20 Euro here. So far, we had thought most of the places in Andalucia relatively cheap, but this was clearly another town and another kind of hotel. Closing the day with a traditional Licor 43 we called it a night at 1 AM.
Sevilla Hotels & Accommodations review
Luxury in Sevilla
It doesn't get much better than this, as far as luxury is concerned. This place just oozes class and obviosuly caters to tourists and business people … read entire review