The snigglings of travel

June 1, 2023

Photo credit: Carol Madigan

The 8:00 to Seville 

   The worst part of an 8:00 train, besides the airport-like ungodly hour you have to get up for it, is that it’s also too early in the morning for wine while aboard. Add a full, chatty, phone-prone first class demographic, and you have yet another case where the destination is going to be the destination instead of the train.

“Happily, Carol solved the a/c problem by plugging it in and the paper towels issue by looking for them.”

 The annoyances keep piling on, too, as your 8:00 train arrives at its destination hours before you can check into your new digs. Finding a café to kill some time can be a problem, since you’re still in the cafe and croissant breakfast club crowd, and finding a couple of seats requires patience, which is at a premium for me that early in the morning.

Narrow streets with almost no sidewalks

   While our apartment is conveniently located in Seville’s old city, it appears to lack certain necessities such as a working a/c, paper towels, sufficient hot water for a full shower and comes with a balky Internet. Happily, Carol solved the a/c problem by plugging it in and the paper towels issue by looking for them. She would also point out the built-in limitations of our hot water reserve by showing me the hot water heater that was about the size of a gallon milk jug. (That’s an exaggeration, but it might just well have been, given a soap-covered torso suddenly being hit with ice-cold water the following day.) All this would accumulate over our time in Seville to eventually produce Carol’s “I want to go home,” summation the night of our long bus ride and walk from the city’s April Festival. More on that in a later blog.

   If you’re me, you never want to begin a day hearing, “We’ve got a lot to see today.” It also doesn’t help that your first step out the door of your building is directly into oncoming automobile traffic. (The nearly nonexistent sidewalks in our neighborhood would become an ongoing annoyance.)

A lively riverfront (Cafe Triana under white umbrellas)

   But Seville is a beautiful mix of old and new, Christian and Moorish, so the sightseeing was actually quite interesting. There is also a well-developed riverfront area, where we spent a most pleasant afternoon at Cafe Triana, following a day of hard-core sightseeing. (That sightseeing included closely following a tourist map to the city’s bullring, which turned out to be the city’s opera house. Still don’t know how we managed that one.)

   Seville serves up a good steak (El Pan Nuestro), however, and that was enough to earn an overall five-star rating for this charming city. Seville also marked the end of our train-is-the-destination adventure. There were no more first class options the rest of the way to Lisbon, and no direct routes either. Fortunately, though, Seville offered a couple of bucket list-type attractions that would mark the high points before the “I want to go home” low point. 

Finding a good steak became a quest, after disasters in France 

   There are good days and bad days in travel. I wrote this blog to suggest that every day of travel tends to mix and match a little of both. And that an occasional “I’m bored,” or “I want to go home,” can be useful safety valves to keep travel on an even keel. A generous schedule of happy hours doesn’t hurt either.

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