Our lightning visit to Seville yesterday to discuss our elearning course regrettably gave us no time for sightseeing. Happily, however, a packed meeting agenda didn't mean that our hosts, Clic IH Seville, couldn't take us out for a delightful lunch ,-) !
The taxi ride from the airport into the old city centre and the stroll to and from the restaurant gave us the most fleeting of glimpses of what a lovely city Seville is. It's clean and tidy and the houses have wonderful patios and backstreets you just want to wander down…
I hadn't been to Seville for nearly 30 years and didn't remember it like that. It's perhaps one of the dis-advantages of living somewhere like Barcelona: you end up, like many of its fiercely proud natives, imaginging it's the most wonderful — the only wonderful — place in the world.
Seeing other places comes as something of a shock…
Seville, with the Giralda there on the horizon| Photo: Tom Walton
You probably don't want to make visiting Seville a day-trip from Barcelona. It's only a 90-minute flight but there's far too much to see in a day and, really, even a long weekend is going to feel too short.
We went today, not to do any sightseeing but for a meeting to finalise details of our new online Spanish teacher training course, which begins February 2, and which has been developed by IH Barcelona and three of the other IH Spain Spanish schools.
You could spend years exploring just Barcelona, but there are some equally wonderful other places in Spain — and Barcelona has got great transport links to many of them.
We thought we ought to get a reliable opinion on Expo 2008 to contrast with the promotional stuff, so we checked with Rosa Martín, Office Manager at IH Barcelona, who went for three days with her family.
"Definitely worth going," Rosa says. The best bits? "The parrilla in the Uruguay pavilion was superb and so was the restaurant in the German pavilion," Rosa reckoned (and Rosa knows a fair bit about good cooking).
Hadn't they gone for the water and sustainable development thing? "Certainly: it really does make you think about how valuable a resource it is and how we're wasting it," Rosa clarified.
Daughter Carlota liked it too… The best bit? "Being able to stick your feet in the fountains," says Carlota. Zaragoza does tend to be hot in the summer!
Oh, and then there were the ads for La Zaragozana, the local brewery, Rosa remembers: "Viniste por el agua; volverás por la cerveza" — that's "You came for the water; you'll come back for the beer".
Expo 2008 is on in Zaragoza (300km west of Barcelona) until September 14.
In Zaragoza, until September 14, Expo 2008 is on with its theme "water and sustainable development".
Assuming that the promotional video (above) hasn't put you off, to get to Zaragoza, which is just over 300km west of Barcelona, take the AVE, the new high-speed train, which now gets you to Zaragoza in around 90 minutes.
Mallorca in winter? Less crowded and still interesting (and still sunny, as you can see from our picture!). There are many places worth visiting on the island. One of them is Valldemossa, a tiny village in the north, where Frederic Chopin and George Sand spent a winter.
You can imagine their stay in the old monastery and perhaps picture them sitting eating ensaimada with their café con leche in this lovely mountain village.
The place has its saint, the Beata, and all the houses in the village have a small ceramic plaque at the front door saying: Beata, pray for us!