Seville and Carmona



The alleyway of the Hotel in Carmona

Carmona Hotel

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Carmona Walls

Seville. Not much known outside Spain. Yet as one researches Spain, one cannot escape Seville. You hear about its wonders everywhere. The internet is flush with the photos and writeups about Alcazar. A Game of Thrones shooting site. The pinnacle of Moorish architecture in Medieval Spain. The Moroccan taxi driver in Barcelona told us about it. The Bull Fighting arena in Las Ventas, Madrid has many displays from Seville. If Madrid is the cosmopolitan hub of Spain and Barcelona is its free spirit, then Seville, or Sebiya as it pronounced, is the cultural soul of Castilian Spain. Seville is to Spain, what Pune is to Maharashtra. It is a must-see sight. And I have included it in my itinerary. 

Intricately carved stone of the facade of Alcazar

Arches

More Arches!

Game of Throne Dome!

There is a problem. While booking the hotel in Seville, I find the only decent hotel I can afford is in a locality called Carmona. I did not pay attention to the fact that Carmona is a good 40 km from downtown Seville! When I detect this, it is too late. The hotels of Seville are for some reason in the range of 700 – 1000 Euros a night! Airbnb throws up even weird options – homestays as far out as 60 km away! There is something amiss! After spending some late nights researching Seville stay options, I give up. Instead, I start focusing on Carmona. It is not such a cultural desert after all. The distant suburb of Carmona has a charm of its own. Its own ruined fort walls and churches and a Roman necropolis! I console myself that if not Sebiya then Carmona. I discuss this with my wife and she agrees enthusiastically. Somehow I am reminded of the sour grapes story. The next problem is, while Carmona is on the main highway from Seville to Cordoba and Madrid, there is no decent fast way to connect it. At least not that I can find one on the internet. I book an ALSA but which takes about 45 minutes. Thankfully it connects conveniently to the bus from Malaga to Seville. So after two bus changes, I reach the sleepy suburb of Carmona in the afternoon. 
ARches

Geometrical patterns on the walls

Stylised Arabic inscriptions


The sun is shining mercilessly. The bus has dumped us in front of a café, which is not yet open and there is hardly anyone on the streets. I call up my hotel who send a taxi promptly. The 1km journey costs me 10 Euros but I am grateful. As we enter the hotel, I realise it is a heritage property. The hotel has seen better days but the grandeur of the medieval opulence of the palace remains. Huge staircases, chandeliers, ornate ceiling, and paintings adorn this palace converted into a hotel. We make our way to the first floor lugging our baggage. It is a huge suite with two rooms and an even larger toilet. It seems we are transported to early 20th century colonial India! But soon the chinks become plain. The air conditioning is ineffective. There is no hot water and no room service. The staff speaks only Spanish and the restaurant is super expensive. But we make the most of what we have and snap pics in the grand alleyways as if we were royalty but in decay! After settling we start a walk on the cobblestoned medieval town. 

Carmona was a major transport hub between the urban centres of Cordoba and Seville in the Medieval times. Situated on a hill, it provides a vantage point of several miles in both directions. The walled town is atmospheric. The ramparts of the wall towering over the landscape. Just outside the Cordoba Gate, one can see for miles around. The green and a yellow patchwork of fields are interrupted by a six-lane highway to Cordoba and onwards to Madrid. While there are no sites to see, but the ancient houses, crumbling fort walls and the cobblestoned street are atmospheric. We hit a small square where most of the shops are shut as it is siesta time. An ice cream shop is open. We make the most of it. The shopkeeper speaks no English but ice cream is a universal language. He punches the final cost on a calculator. We pay up licking our respective icecreams. Our kids shout the most enthusiastic “Gracias” ever heard! The evening is upon us and some of the shops have started opening. A small grocery store is open and we enter it to buy some yoghurt and other munchies. We spot agarbatties and little Buddhas made in India. The price in euros dissuades us from enquiring further. After spending the better part of the evening roaming the streets we walk back to our hotel. We enquire about going to Seville by public transport as the Taxi ride is a stiff Euro 120. 

The next day being Sunday there are only limited services. We decide to take the early morning bus to Seville. The plan is to see the Alcazar in the morning and then catch the evening bus to our next stop, Lagos in Portugal. The next morning we make good time and are the first passengers at the bus stop. A south Asian looking person approaches me and asks me in Punjabi, “how to go to Seville?” I reply in Hindi. But he is confused. I try the same thing in my broken Punjabi and he seems to understand. I wonder at this. A bus journey of two hours later we are in Seville and clueless. We are looking for a baggage drop service. We find none. After scouting for an hour, my wife offers to sit by the luggage at the huge Eustacion de Santa Justa. I along with the kids go for a quick visit to Alcazar. We have pre-booked timed tickets. 

The Alcazar is not a place which lends itself to such a hurried visit. After all, it was the palace of the powers that be for nearly 300 years. The Moorish architecture of the Alcazar is pristinely preserved. The ceilings, floor and walls have intricate geometrical designs in the Islamic style. The gardens outside are laid again as per strict geometric conformity. Interspersed with flowing water and fountains. By the time we walk below the labyrinthine alleyways, passages and halls to stand below the GoT dome, my kids are exhausted. We take a quick selfie. We exit Alcazar and reach the Santa Justa station where my wife is waiting patiently. We find a McDonalds, munch in and then make way for the ALSA bus to Lagos in Portugal. 

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Comments

Ninu Nair said…
Wow...You are quite a traveler. Seville was a great find...I will have all these places jotted down before I start to travel. Lovely post and amazing pictures.
simi gn said…
the pictures were heart-catching sure will plan out.
Sonia Dogra said…
I really liked the way you narrated your travel tale. So much like a story. The pictures are great!
Asfa said…
Spain is rich in historic structure and game of thrones portrayed it's image beautifully. #millennialscribbler
#myfriendalexa
A Lady Lawyer said…
I have been to Seville and it is so gorgeous! It was lovely reliving the place through your pictures.
Your picture itself reflects the beauty of seville ,heard the name even first time and truly fell in love of this beautiful place, would love to visit whenever get chance.Thanks for sharing.
Surbhi prapanna said…
wow the place is looking really amazing and after seeing your pictures and reading tho visit description, would love to visit it someday. #Surbhireads #Myfriendalexa
Urvashi said…
Love your clicks. Your journey to find Seville was one act of a bravery and courage. I would have given up at hotel search, or the no hot water rooms, no English . Kudos to you and specially your wife who sacrificed alcazar for you and kids #damurureads #myfriendalexa damurucreations.com
Dipika said…
What a lovely property this is, looks like just out of some Mark of Zorro movie :) glad to know about it from your blog.
sweta said…
Lovely clicks. Thanks for sharing this. #MyFriendAlexa #CloudandSunshineReads
Harjeet Kaur said…
Wow..seems to be a very interesting plac. I just visited Barcelona and fell in love with it.I am bookmarking this page for future reference.#wordsmithkaurreads #BlogChatter #MyFriendAlexa
Akanksha Singh said…
I have heard the name Seville but not Carmona.. I have found that bcoz of lack of amenities such beautiful places pack the tourists they deserve... I have saved your post to definitely check out this place in future
Shashank said…
Your narration is as usual great but hats off to your wife.
Mj.Misha said…
Seville, I have heard a lot.. looks soo beautiful.
suhavijay said…
Seville is a new find to me as i never heard about it. All thanks to Alexa campaign for introducing this blog to me
Shweta said…
I've never been to Seville but now I'll do my research before embarking on such a trip. Being in a foreign land where people speak a language that's unknown to us can be a challenge and a thrill!
Vashi said…
Thanks to your blog i found a new place to add to my list! After reading such a thorough blog post i can’t wait to emvark upon ky own adventures. Great work here!
Nazish said…
The pictures are beautiful. Gives me a feeling of packin my bags right away and leaving. Hope someday I get a chance to travel and visit this place. 😊
love your pictures and the detailed info

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