The so-called Talgo-trains are quite fancy and convenient, which is nice if the whole trip from Barcelona to Sevilla takes 12 hours. What surprised me at first was that all seats were 2-by-2 facing in the direction of travelling. The Talgo from Madrid to Barcelona had 4-seaters as well. Hmmm.... It started to make sense when we left Valencia, where the train had to go in reverse to leave the station. Most people got up from their seats, fiddling around with their belongings, pulled the handle at the side of the back rest and flop!, it switched sides! The seats are symmetrical. Consternation if the person originally sitting behind you doesn't to that: you'll get new companions. If you're not in the mood for that, or just like me wanting to finish a chapter in Hannibal first before swapping, you'll just have to switch sides as well sooner or later (after assesing possible new companions if they didn't swap either). Ah well, after about 5 minutes the train started to move into the "right" direction again, now really confusing people. Virtually everybody was assessing each other now, what others thought would be the real travveling direction... and flopping the seats yet another time. There was similar session in Córdoba. Quite entertaining.
Most fun though was the smoking area inbetween the wagons. Non-smokers really don't know what they're missing. Together with a nutcase in the end of his fifties and with a glorious, but long distant past, a male flight attendant and his girlfriend and an old-fashioned tough man that could have been a sailor if we'd lived in other times, we had a good craic. It's times like this that I'm really happy that I went through the almost masochistic attempts to learn spanish. And that wasn't only during one smoke-break, but they even woke me up an hour later because it was really time for another great laugh. After the third break we just stayed there. The passing guard was dragged into it to give his share of nonsense. We arrived in Sevilla too soon, though somewhat later than the official schedule.
Barcelona - Sevilla - Granada - Madrid
Those Reales Alcázares are some royal buildings mixing catholicism with islam. With an untrained eye there seems to be "some frill" around the iconoclastic pictures, but they are actually screwed up verses from the Koran. During the various restaurations, some workers didn't know any better (or pretended to?) and messed up parts of the arabic. Ok, could be true (I was overhearing a guide), I've no idea I as can't read it myself. In the picture at the left it is the top and bottom band that is supposed to be the text. The rest of the buildings are a similar mixture and there's a nice garden. Impressive alltogether.
Last, walked to the absolutely boring Murallas, advertised as the oldest ruins dating back to the muslim era, via the memorial of Colón (Columbus), passing the bull figthing arena and some other buildings listed as worthwile visiting. One advise is that they're very much into the siesta business in Sevilla: lunch is from about noon to 3.30 and then the kitchen closes to say about evening. Tough luck when you're hungry for an appetizer at 5pm. Of course there are the selections of dulces in the panaderías (bakery that also serves coffe and tea). I won't say that I've tried them all, but definitely a representative sample of the available pastries.
This was pretty much the last day of great weather. During the rest of my holiday in Spain there were severe rains, flooding, a tornado, snow, gale force ruining Mediterranean beaches and some people died because of all that. But I went to Granada, at that time unknowing that I left the flooding area....