Monday, March 2, 2015

Not quite the last post...

We're still in Europe....when we should be in the air somewhere enroute to Canada. We checked in at Sevilla airport this AM only to discover that our bags couldn't be checked right through to Kelowna. Further inquiries...and we realized that the so-called connecting flight from Lisbon to Frankfurt wasn't going to is scheduled for departure at 1815! The agent in Sevilla couldn't change it, advising us this had to be done in Lisbon. To make a long and gruesome story much shorter, after talking with several agents for TAP Portugal, they could not change anything because it was an aeroplan booking. We had to wait for a couple of hours before trying to phone Air Canada in Germany, and then had way too many hiccups using the payphone. Now, here is the bright light in the story...and the kindness of strangers...after we had realized that the phone card vending machine had "eaten" our Euros, and that Skype to landline wasn't going to work either due to the Internet signal, a telephone technician came to the rescue. He determined that the substitute phone card Lloyd had purchased at the post office wasn't going to work either, even accompanying Lloyd back to the PO to inquire about this...that he put his own money into the phone box to get the call started, and then opened up the phone to retrieve his coin and continued to cycle that coin through until Lloyd completed the call. I guess he overrode the coin mechanism. Anyway, mission accomplished...the Air Canada rep in Germany agreed that there had been an error, and he has booked us on the same flights to Calgary and Kelowna tomorrow. 

Meanwhile we have had to pay a startling €13.95 for internet connections here in the airport, and we have had to make our hotel booking for Frankfurt. The Air Canada agent told us to make the booking because by the time we arrive tonight their office will be closed. So we will be staying at the Frankfurt airport Hilton Garden Inn tonight, likely the most luxurious accommodations this trip...certainly the most expensive. We have to keep all receipts and submit them later. I feel very skeptical that AC will totally reimburse us.

The choice of seating and restaurants is very limited out in the departures area so we opted to go through security.  TO ADD INSULT TO knitting needles were confiscated. These were 120 cm long circulars specifically for knitting two socks at a time. This was AFTER I had been patted down for having set off the alarm when I walked through the screening door. The agent said "These are sharp. They are a potential weapon." I protested! I said "I have travelled thoughout Canada, Asia, and Europe and this is the first time knitting needles have been seen as a threat!" The agent told me to go back and put them into my checked luggage (and all I could think of was that I did not want to have yet another encounter with a TAP agent because our bags are likely buried somewhere in the bowels of this place waiting for the Frankfurt flight) or I could go back to the post office and mail them home. Well, the needles are not my precious Addi Turbos, and it would probably cost me more to mail them than to replace. So I ripped the socks out of the needles and thrust them into her hands. I suppose they'll be incinerated as lethal weapons.

While this has never happened to me, the thought does cross my mind when I'm packing my travel knitting projects. I therefore never pack my expensive needles, and usually pack bamboo...except I don't have 2.5 mm circs in bamboo. I did pack two sets of double-pointed bamboo, so the stitches are now loaded back on...I did have to rescue several dropped stitches!!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Sevilla, one last time!

The final posting from Spain, and for this trip!
Andalusia is mad about flamenco, and it is so obvious here in Seville where there are shop windows of flamenco dresses...

It was also amazing to see the number of fabric stores with fabrics that would be perfect for stitching up a flamenco dress. (I didn't even go through the doors...I have some pretty nice fabric at home...) We did see a flamenco performance a few nights ago. This was an option with the Feel the City tour organization. The night started off with a glass of sherry on a terrace overlooking the cathedral, nicely lit up, with Beatriz who explained the passion and history of flamenco. It seems to have its origins amongst the marginalized...the Gypsies, Moriscos and others living on the edges of society, hence the sadness and passion in the singing. Well, "singing" is a nice way of describing the music...unfortunately the singer seemed to be shouting. We were in a very small, intimate space, and it was too loud! Amazing how loud clapping and finger snapping can be! Oh dear, I feel very curmudgeonly! Maybe it's time to come home! 

Today we had a very leisurely start....didn't emerge until close to 11 AM and then stopped for a café con leche and a little knitting time in the sun...

And then we crossed over the river into the community of Triana and site of the '92 world's fair (looking a little desolate--they haven't managed to make good use of this land and buildings.)  In Triana, we heard a marching band...followed the sound and came across a procession...

And the famous bridge, Puente de Isabel II, built over a 150 years ago and modelled after one in Paris. 

Finished off with lunch in a neighbourhood bar. Lloyd had gazpacho and potatas bravas while I enjoyed fried fish, omelette and salad. While we were eating, a petite older woman (dressed in a suit) strode in, and by the time she got to the bar there was a glass of beer waiting for her. She drank this while reading the newspaper, and then walked out, a little more slowly and not in a straight line! We were left wondering if this was a daily occurrence or just on Sundays. Here is the barman, quite the character...

We are now packing up and getting ready for our 7 AM flight tomorrow to Lisbon, then Frankfurt and Calgary, and finally home to Kelowna at 5:45. We will have been about 20 hours in transit by the time we arrive. 

The cathedral of Seville

The penultimate posting from Seville, Spain... I am writing this while Lloyd prepares our Sunday dinner of leftover potatoes and pasta along with cooking up the last of the chicken slices. I've made a salad and used up all the veggies. The big flavouring agent is a sprig of rosemary that Lloyd pinched from the cathedral garden yesterday. We have found that one of the biggest challenges cooking here is not having our usual collection of herbs and spices at the ready... Speaking of the cathedral, we finally visited it yesterday...the third largest cathedral in the world. 

Christopher Columbus' tomb is here... This inveterate traveler's body was moved several times before finally resting here in this monumental sarcophagus held up by pall bearers:

Lloyd had a good time taking some interesting photos:

As did I...I love seeing a marble sculpture representing fabric. This is a 19th C sculpture in one of the many chapels:

We climbed the bell tower which is built atop of the original minaret, one of the few parts of the original mosque. It was a great climb because the only stairs were at the very top! The ascent is a ramp, designed so that the muezzin could ride his horse up to the top five times a day to call the faithful to prayer. Here is one of the bells:

And the views: