Tuesday, August 12, 2014

August 12, 2014 -- Seville, Spain

I spent a good part of the day on the train getting here. The train from Granada to Seville didn't go by the same route that the train from Madrid to Grenada took over the Seville-Granada stretch. This was a single-track route through small villages with lots of curves. Once we had to wait in a station until a train coming from the opposite direction passed. The train was jammed full of passengers, however.

I got off the train one station too early and didn't realize my mistake until I went upstairs from the platform and saw that the station was far too small to be the main train station. I went back to the platform and hopped on a regional train that soon arrived, rode one stop farther, and got off at the right station this time.

The main train station is big. Metropolitan Seville has a population of about 1.5 million people, making it the fourth-largest Spanish city. The youth hostel is away from the main part of town, and I had to take two buses to get here. Luckily I had things pretty well figured out in advance thanks to Google Maps, but I still had to ask people for help. Job one was to find the tourist office and get a map. The tourist office is inside the railway station, but ot is difficult to locate. I saw no signs pointing to it,  but thanks to help from several of the train station's security detail, I found it hidden away in a side passageway.

Then I bought a 10-trip bus ticket. You buy bus tickets here in a tobacco shop. That makes sense, doesn't it? Every tourist would figure that out. Incidentally, when you buy a ten-trip ticket, you actually get a plastic card that the tobacconist activates using a small electronic terminal. I think that if I use all ten trips, I take the same  card back to be recharged.

Then I figured out where to catch the first bus. Google had said to ride it for five stops, but it turned out to be four. I walked across the street to catch the second bus, which had the wrong destination on the destination sign, but one of the passengers leaned out the window and told me to disregard the information on the sign. Google also had said to ride this bus five stops. The correct number again turned out to be four.

I'm very excited about tomorrow. I've long wanted to visit the old cathedral in Seville, which has a number of remarkable characteristics. For one, it is the largest church in the world, larger than Saint Peter's Cathedral in Rome. Second, Christopher Columbus's body is entombed within (although some people doubt that it is really him). Third.... but all of that is a subject for tomorrow's entry.

Finally, I will leave you with a picture of my room. It's a five-person room, but so far I have it to myself, and I think it may stay that way. This is an enormous hostel, but it's almost empty. Yes, the rumpled bed is mine as are the backpack, dirty walking shoes, and tablet PC on the table.

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