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An afternoon spent at Seville’s cathedral

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After spending the better part of some days walking around the cathedral, spending time in the square near it (marvelling at the statue of Pope John Paul II !!) and seeing the silhouette of the cathedral everywhere we went, we joined the queue and went inside.

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The architecture is massive. The ceiling seems so far above your head that you almost feel like you’re outside except that it’s cool and dark whereas outside it is neither of those things.

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The stained glass windows are really cool, continuing the tradition of ‘presenting’ the church in the window to a higher power with clear references to the reconquest of Spain where the Moors and Islam was chased out of Christian Spain.

However, I’m really just assuming that this is the case based on the history behind similar windows. The audio guide would have probably confirmed or denied this, but I consistently refuse to buy or to listen to audio guides. (They really annoy me and make other people walk around like zombies.)

 

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One of the coolest things was the grave of Christopher Colombus. Well, in theory, they’re not totally sure where he is actually buried, but I think Seville won the argument on the basis of a really cool tomb.

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After viewing the gorgeous architecture, it was time to climb the Giralda.

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Spanish Holiday: Seville

After months of planning, agonising over hotels, Spanish train websites and navigating Gatwick Airport, we arrived in the first city on our mini tour of Andalusia – Seville. This is where I learned that when English doesn’t work, Italian sometimes does but it’s not very pretty. I am useless with Spanish.

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This guy didn’t mind my poor Spanish skills.

 

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While Seville is in Andalusia, an autonomous community in Spain, and is in a lot of ways, very Spanish, Andalusia has a very obvious Moorish and Arabic influence. The Alcazar was absolutely gorgeous.

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The Giralda is the jewel in the eye of Seville and used to be a minaret on the Moorish city’s mosque.

 

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The inside, however, is very much of the European tradition.

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The Torre del Oro is another manifestation of the city’s Moorish past. It also houses a pretty cool Maritime Museum reflecting the great shipping tradition of Seville and lots of model ships.

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I found the neighbourhood of Macarena the most interesting. indie shops, cool graffiti and a bit less touristy.

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The juxtaposition of the new Parasols in the old quarter of Seville is really cool. There is this new, modern structure next to crumbling buildings and traditional architecture.

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New Year’s Goal: Reading

I think I was a little bit ambitious when I set my goal of reading 10 new books. To date, I have read four. However, I loved all of them.

I read two history books. They’re both massive, so I think they should probably count for more.

The first book of the year that I read was The Inheritance of Rome. A fantastic history of early medieval Europe. It’s pretty dense, and I found the most interesting chapters to be the ones based on geographical areas I knew better. So, for me, the chapters on the UK and Italy were the most interesting. I found the Spanish chapter to be a bit slow going but that’s because I know next to nothing about Spanish history. I’m glad I stuck it out though!

More recently, I read another European history book, Vanished Kingdoms: The History of Half- Forgotten Europe. This is another book that’s broken up into distinct chapters, each one focused on a former and almost unknown state. For some reason, the chapter on Byzantium was about 5 pages (a big disappointment) and the chapter on Aragon (in Spain) went on for what seemed like forever. Again, I’m glad I stuck it out though. The author cleverly references earlier chapters later on when discussing related kingdoms or states. (A teacher never misses an opportunity!) These books with distinct chapters are really good for commuting. I can usually get to a natural stopping point before I have to change trains.

I read one book on the Tube (whilst on the Tube). (This may come as a surprise.) Called Underground, Overground: A Passenger’s History of the Tube, it is a fairly new addition to the great body of varied quality literature on London Underground. I really liked it and found it to be a fast read. Broken up by line, it covers its interesting history with some anecdote thrown in. I learned a lot of new facts, which can be quite a feat to achieve. This is not to say that I’m an expert,but that most books on such subjects, because they’re so popular, tend to say the same things.

Finally, I read a book on murders in Paris. Crime Album Stories is a strange mix of fact and fiction. Based on a small archive of early police photos of murders in Paris, the author wrote a somewhat factual story about each one. Full of gory photos, it also has some great, albeit heartbreaking stories about the sad lives of murdered and murderer. I would recommend taking it slow to avoid the paranoia that comes with reading about murders/serial killers/ etc. or watching too much CSI.

And for the record, which might bring my goal a bit closer, I’ve read a lot of travel books for reasons that will soon become clear, in fact I will be officially on holiday as of tomorrow. See you upon my return.

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Walking the Northern Line: Part 2

It wasn’t my finest moment when I finally rocked up to Kennington station after 7 hours of walking, being rained on, enjoying a brass band, and having been lost for the last half hour. I chose to walk this section by myself and as such I just wanted to get it over with. This meant one bathroom break, no pub, lunch on the go, and clearly a lot of poor decisions relating to food and drink (tuna pasta salad washed down with Gatoraid while walking down Goldiers Green Road got some weird looks.)

Another of my finest moments is that I can’t actually find any photos from this walk (how frustrating!) Anyway, I started my walk from Edgeware to Brent Cross, crossing over what’s left of the River Brent and a very scary footbridge over a motorway. From there I walked through Goldiers Green, past some surprisingly leafy areas in the very affluent Hampstead which actually felt like it was farther out of London than where I started in Edgeware.

From Goldiers Green, through Camden, Euston and central London, now with a headache and no patience for the tourists going out to the theatre in the evening. Finally crossed the river as it started to absolutely pour to find a flash mob brass band. I have to say, I love brass bands at the best of times and this really perked up my spirits. I thought I really could make it to Kennington at this point. And I did eventually after walking past it for about 20 minutes and then back.

I then, in my infinite wisdom decided to pop into the food store and pick up soup and juice (very heavy) and get on the train home with everyone else who was going out for their Saturday night. I arrived home around 10pm, after giving fairly detailed instructions to a very confused Italian who was finding his way from Manchester to Milan somehow via Heathrow with no tickets.

It may come as no surprise as I took a very long break before starting my next line, the Jubilee.

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Wanderlust Wednesday: North of the Border

So, last year I finally crossed the border from England into Scotland and have been up a few times since. Sure, the weather is usually abysmal but there’s a beauty in the landscape and generally, a really friendly culture (and haggis!).

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About an hour and half outside Glasgow (probably my second favourite city in the UK) is Loch Fyne. I was lucky enough to be there on a beautiful sunny day.

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And of course there’s Edinburgh with its hills and crags.

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Making: Window Webs

I absolutely love things that hang in windows and catch the light or cast a shadow. So I made a few webs to catch the dull English winter light.

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The Petry Museum

As a kid, going through the obligatory mummy obsession, book after book on Egypt mentioned the Petry museum. So many of the really cool objects were in this museum’s collection and I dreamed of going to it. (Okay, I was a nerdy kid!)

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Well, I finally went and it was just as cool as I hoped. It’s kind of an old style museum with loads of cabinets and very dry, academic labels (even for the phallic objects, which is quite funny). There’s just so many objects from mummies and sculptures to spindles and needles.

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I spent hours there (again thanks to the patience of Lenny!) taking loads of photos and would love to go back again.

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