I had a charming evening with Teré and Miguel in Carmona last week on Monday. Carmona is about a half-hour drive east northeast of Sevilla, a bit more by bus. The city dates back to 100–44 BC, one of the strongest Roman cities in Hispania during the time of Julius Caesar. In later centuries, the Moors built a wall around it for protection. It was finally captured by Ferdinand III of Castille in 1247.
|JUST WALKING THROUGH TOWN.|
We took the bus with the simple plan to have coffee at El Parador, the hotel at the top of the highest hill. Paradores are luxury hotels in Spain that were usually originally palaces, fortresses, convents, monasteries, and other historic buildings. The one in Carmona, Parador Alcazar del Rey Don Pedro, was a Moorish fortress (and before that a fortress of the Carthaginians) added onto by King Pedro the Cruel. It’s now a modern hotel, but the oldest parts of the structure date back to the 12th and 13th centuries AD. Anyone I’ve met in Sevilla who has suggested a visit to Carmona has insisted that it would not be complete without a walk up the hill to the Parador for a cup of coffee.
|APPROACHING EL PARADOR.|
Since our only goal on my first visit was to have a cup of coffee (OK, and dessert) at El Parador, I have got to get back and explore the ancient Roman ruins and as much of the other history I can take in. And then bore you with the results!
|WELCOME TO EL PARADOR.|
Teré and Miguel have taken the bus to Carmona often. I met them at the bus station, El Prado de San Salvador, which is about 1-1/4 miles from my house. I was there a few minutes before them but I couldn’t find any posting that included a bus to Carmona. While I looked, Miguel and Teré arrived and were also perplexed. After visiting two different ticket windows of two different bus companies, we were directed outside to an unmarked white door that led to an office next to the buses. Miguel knocked and peaked in. A very pleasant man came out and said the Carmona bus didn’t leave from there anymore. It now left from San Bernardo Station another 3/4-mile further on. We hustled over to San Bernardo with 4 minutes to spare, jogging the last 1/4-mile only to miss the bus by three minutes. (I have been very, and in this case sadly, impressed with the promptness of Sevilla’s and Spain’s public transportation.)
|LEADING INTO THE PARKING LOT AND COURTYARD. I’M ABOUT TO DO ANOTHER SPRINT.|
We had an hour until the next bus to Carmona, so we went for a walk to the the Gardens of La Buhaira (where Jerry and I saw that very strange performance of “Carmen” what seems like years ago). That was probably 1/4-mile away. We strolled the gardens and then walked back to wait another 15 minutes for the bus.
|LOOKING BACK TO THE ARCHWAY ONCE INSIDE THE COURTYARD/PARKING LOT.|
We left Sevilla late in the day (around 5 p.m.) so, once we arrived in Carmona, we didn’t dawdle in the town itself. We were anxious to get to El Parador before the sun was too low to truly appreciate the view, and then the spectacular colors of the sunset. We power-walked entirely uphill about 1/2-mile, through the winding streets of the town. I would stop to take a quick snapshot and would then sprint to catch up with Teré and Miguel.
|A VIEW FROM THE TERRACE.|
El Parador was worth the trip. The modern hotel is built around the ancient structure and has a large terrace that overlooks the entire valley. We had our coffee and pastries, admired the view, enjoyed one another’s company and then headed back down into town to catch the 8:00 bus. I was feeling so smug in my physical fitness (and the fact that I could easily keep up, and then some, with 30-somethings) that, once back in Sevilla, I walked the two miles home from the bus stop. It took me 30 minutes.
|ABOUT TO HEAD OUT AND BACK DOWN THE HILL.|
Jerry and I had a late dinner and I woke up Tuesday morning for my coffee with Lola feeling tired and achey. I chalked it up to all the power-walking I had done Monday, disappointed that I couldn’t keep up as well as I had thought.
|THE BELL TOWER OF THE PRIORIAL DE SANTA MARIA.|
So, it was with some kind of twisted relief that, during my sleepless Tuesday night, I realized I was more than just tired… And, especially, that it probably had nothing to do with Monday’s activity level. I had fever, chills, stomach problems (that linger), and over the course of the week, I grew just generally miserable and, I’m convinced, miserable to be around. So, now that my physical health is mostly recovered, I’m trying to recover the positive attitude I had been working so hard to resurrect. Jerry is a saint.
|WINDING OUR WAY DOWN.|