It's good to be back
Sevilla Travel Blog› entry 47 of 47 › view all entries
They say that a holiday is as good as a rest. I have another theory – a holiday is food for a rest!
After a year living in Spain, it was time to return to the lands downunder to visit family and friends. I departed Sevilla on the 19th June and took the long way around via Los Angeles to visit one of my dearest friends, Julie. After a wonderful few days getting back in touch I completed my trip and landed in Auckland, NZ, to be greeted by a 5C chill at 6.00am.
My friend from schooldays, Margot, collected me from the airport and I enjoyed 24 hours of Kiwi fun and hospitality, getting used to the magnificent flora once again as we walked the local streets and parks. It was strange to be wrapped up in so many layers of clothing but the fresh healthy air was welcoming.
Another short plane trip (whooooaaa, a twin prop toy aeroplane in high winds!) took me to the town of my parents, Wanganui. The next 10 days were filled with plentiful home cooking, family visits and the search for lightweight souvenirs to bring back to Spain! Does the concept of a Kiwi ‘zip pull’ sound bizarre? This was something I have not seen before and I found it curiously funny. I can imagine some of my Spanish friends wandering Sevilla with their winter jackets adorned with a ‘silver fern’ zip pull/decoration. We’ll see . . . .
My last destination was Melbourne and it did not disappoint me. I arrived to yet another cold day and my ‘brother’ Paul picked me up and drove me to my house. It was wonderful to be back in familiar surroundings, my old stomping ground. By ‘day two’ I had completely assimilated back to the routine of 8.00am coffee with Paul, chatting aimlessly about not much at all. The coffee was great but not the same as my daily café con leche at Bar Monsalves in Sevilla. Two weeks of catching up with my old life came to an end all too quickly and soon I was jetting on my way halfway around the world again (short route this time: Melbourne, Singapore, Frankfurt, Madrid, Sevilla – 38 hours)
I finally arrived in Sevilla last Wednesday evening, totally bushed, but was met at the train station by a happy Jose and a big bunch of flowers. After a quick plate of tapas, I literally crashed on the couch. I had had 4 hours sleep in 2 days!
The first couple of days I unpacked and got my Spanish bearings again. The initial problem was getting used to the incredible heat. I am used to the occasional day over 40C in Melbourne but it is usually followed by a cool change and at least a little wind. Here it is relentless heat day after day, humid and gripping. The nights are the worst. Even though we have air conditioning we do not have it on overnight as it dries your chest out too much. We sleep with all the balcony doors open but there is rarely a breeze. I have a wet cloth which I move around my body continuously during the night to cool it down.
Although it is uncomfortable, I have to say I enjoy the heat more than being cold ‘to my bones’ as I was frequently in Melbourne (jajaja).
On Friday afternoon Jose and I packed up the car with our bicycles and some clothes and headed up into the Huelva Sierras about an hour and a half out of Sevilla. We stayed in the country in cute little wooden cabanas, right in the middle of the best cerdo iberico (black pig) rearing country in Spain.
(Google Maps to see the area: Repilado and Cortegana, Andalucia, Spain. The link to the place we stayed is http://www.posadadecortegana.es/ )
Each morning we headed off into the countryside on our bikes and explored the local sites. There is a 4km hill climb to get out of the valley and I managed to make it all the way without walking. Along the route we stopped a couple of times for a cool drink and to admire the pigs as they wallowed in small creeks and lazed under the acorn trees. It is the acorns which give the dried ham (jamon) its amazing flavour. At one point we were surprised by a fox tearing away from us at great speed. I think we disturbed his shady nap spot.
At the top of the climb we came upon a cute little pueblo (La Corte) and discovered a local fuente (fountain) which is furnished by an underground spring, perfect for drinking. The water was glorious and we took the opportunity to fill water bottles. Hanging over the fountain was an enormous brevas fig tree (there are 2 types in Spain, the smaller ones are for jam and eating, called higos and the larger ones are for eating, called brevas). We had a ball, sucking the delicious syrupy fig flesh until we could eat no more. The cool spring water was perfect to wash them down and clean up the nectar from hands and faces. We made a plan to return on our way home in the car and pick some more to take back with us.
Thanks Mish for your wonderful Aussie gift to Jose. It has been a lifesaver in the heat - not only on our weekend away but here in the flat as well. Your Digeridoona (wool insulated bottle cover) has meant cold water in the middle of the night next to the bed! It's amazing that they do not have anything like that here - they don't even have those insulated stubby holders. Luckily I brought some back from NZ as gifts but now I think they could end up staying with me! (http://www.didgeridoonas.com.au/products/insulated-range.html?page=shop.browse&category_id=1)
On Saturday night we drove to a nearby pueblo Fuenteheridos to visit my friend, Angel. He has a house up in the hills and you must navigate through the bush for 10 minutes to get to it.
In Fuenteheridos we sat in the gorgeous big plaza and drunk icy cold tinto-de-veranos (ice, red wine and lemon fanta), made a plan to meet for lunch at Angel's country retreat on Sunday and then Jose and I drove back to the 'ranch'.
We started out on our bikes early Sunday morning (9.30am!) in the desire to climb the first 4km hill and then the next one, another 2.5km. Just as we made it to the top of the first one, Jose's chain broke on his bicycle. It was not fixable so we had to coast all the way back. Luckily it was downhill and not uphill! Again we stopped to watch the pigs enjoy country life. I could have sat down and stayed for hours, resting under any one of the hundreds of ancient acorn trees, but the heat was beginning to magnify and we chose a breezy descent instead.
We departed Posada de Cortegana and drove to Alajar; bought a fresh chicken, salmorejo and cold drinks; parked the car in a shady spot and hiked to Angel's.
Rounding the last bend we reached his two-storey whitewashed farm cottage. It even boasts a typical moorish 'bath' outside. Continuously running spring water flows through it maintaining a year-round freezing temperature. That didn't stop the boys from diving in - I declined but freshened up and cooled off by splashing myself and dangling my legs over the sides until they were near frozen. By 3pm it was a sweltering 42C outside.
After lunch we all rested for a few hours (siesta) in the cool and at 7.00pm as the heat began to subside a little, Jose and I headed back to Sevilla. It was a marvellous getaway and I am sure we will be back again.