September 28th - Coctober 1st
We are in Sevilla -- the capitol of the autonomous community of Andalusia.  We checked out of the temporary hotel in Sevilla and
checked into the hotel we were booked to stay for the last two nights.  We met our local guide Conception for the afternoon walking
tour of Sevilla.  Walking narrow streets of Barrio Santa Cruz (once-thriving Jewish Quarter), we reached our first major site - the
enormous Cathedral of Sevilla.  This cathedral is the third-largest church in Europe after St. Peter's at the Vatican and St. Paul's in
London.  Because most of the tour groups canceled their tours, we did not have to struggle with the crowd to see the sights.
This High Altar, built during
1481-1564 is 65 feet tall and
includes 44 scenes.
Conception decided that we could come back the next day to climb the Cathedral's Giralda Bell Tower.  We proceeded to visit the 10th-century
Alcazar Palace which was rebuilt in the 14th century.  It still functions as a royal palace; King Juan Carlos stays here when he visits Sevilla.  After
viewing beautiful gardens, we were given some free time.  It was too early for the local dinner time; so I went to a tapas bar with John and and
Rita.  Spanish people don't eat dinner till 9 o'clock.  That's practically my bed time at home...
The day ended with a flamenco show at
the Casa de la Memoria.  Their dance
was different from what I pictured in my
mind.  The singing and guitar music had
a melancholy tone, but the male dancer's
endless energy was amazing.  To me it
represented the soul of Sevilla.

The general strike ended later that day.
Next morning we met Conception
again and took a local bus to
Macarena.  We visited the Basilica de
la Macarena and saw the two
religious floats and the Weeping
Virgin Mary with crystal teardrops.   I
can't imagine how 48 men carry this
three-ton float on the backs of their
necks and walk from here to the
center of Sevilla in procession.  One
must visit Sevilla just before Easter to
really experience the spiritual aspect
of their Holy Week.
As promised, we were given the time
to climb the Giralda Bell Tower.  
Tourists were back, and we had to
wait in turn to get the view of Sevilla
as well as the top of the cathedral.
Left: Concepcion explaining the origin of  Sevilla's motto
"NO8DO" which means "It (Sevilla) hasn't abandoned me."
Spain gained six million immigrants during the last ten years.  Conception told us its implications, both good and bad, a lot like California.
The economic crisis of 2008 has brought high unemployment rates of 20-25%!
To have our last night's dinner we were taken on carriages to Taberna del Alabardero, run by a culinary school.  Robert was celebrating his 40th birthday in
Lisbon the next day.  He got a surprise cake from the restaurant and the gift from us.  Too bad that Robert had packed Ursula away in his suitcase...  Guess
what,  she wore it to the Sandeman's sherry winery with the next tour group!
So soon, but our tour is ending...
I hope you enjoyed my travelogue as much as I enjoyed the tour.  It will be great
if this has inspired you to take the tour yourself in the near future.
Yes, Rick, our travel was "political" and "spiritural" action, but most of all,
it was fun! -- even if you don't drink.
P.S.  For the first time I'm going to the reunion party in
Edmonds this year.  Unfortunately, I won't see Robert.  He has
resigned from the company.  Were we that bad?  After 11
years with the company, he's apparently decided to move on to
other things such as developing the iPhone & iTouch travel
apps that people can use to guide themselves -- in Buenos
Aires to start.  Los mejores deseos para el futuro, Robert!
Right: I happen to see  this photo on Robert's blog page today.  I recognized my
handwriting.  Robert wore this badge and Lois found it on the bus.  We gave this
back to him (with the comment), but we were only kidding!  -- Dec. 9, 2010