Europe | Spain | Andalucia | Sevilla – Maps and Men, or The Fickle Finger of Fate
Well I woke up this morning feeling a little less cynical but not entirely well rested. I decided to ignore the thought that there might be roaches in my room and that it was freezing and just get on with it. I piled my bed high with blankets (checking first for beasties) and climbed in, only to fall promptly off the back of the bed! What a way to find out that my bed has only three legs! Carefully, I climbed back in and nestled down among the blankets to warm up.
I think I must have slept because I don´t remember the noise lasting all night, but maybe that´s because everyone else slept? Still, at least shivering burns calories!
After breakfast I went to see the terrace, so proudly mentioned by the receptionist both when I arrived and when I came down for breakfast. It wasn´t quite what it looked like on the website, but the sky was an incredible clear blue and boded very well for the weather for the rest of the day.
Travelling solo means that there is no slack time at all, I find. There´s no banter as you gear up to go out, which is a shame, but on the positive side there´s also no arguing about where you are going to go. I decided to head for the cathedral, which on the map was just straight down my road and then straight down the next one. Easy peasy.
Or so I thought. Mental note: when heading off in a straight line, make sure that you start off in the right direction! I walked for about 20 minutes, referring frequently to my Lonely Planet map but couldn´t match any of the names I saw to the dozen or so roads actually marked on the map. Eventually I admitted to myself that I was lost and had to do something about it. I sat down and scoured the map for anything I recognised and spotted, just on the corner of the map, the Plaza de Ponce de Leon. I recognised that! Just as well I did, because another road or two and I would´ve walked off the map and into Spanish oblivion.
I retraced my steps to the Plaza (I say ‘Plaza’ casually, but in Spain it´s like saying I walked back to the ‘road’ there are so many), found another main road marked on the LP map and headed off. As I wandered down ever narrower streets I began to wonder if I was still on the right track. I spotted a man with a map who was clearly in the same situation and we started a game of map tag.
The game went like this: he would stop and look at his map pensively then look up and stride off confidently. I would walk past him to the next junction and then do the same. Neither of us acknowleged the other, but I secretly smiled when I took the right route and he appeared, a minute or so behind, and I scowled to myself when he knew the right road to take and I didn´t. This went on as we wound through what seemed like they must be the back alleys of Seville, miles away from any tourist trap. Me always keeping an eye out for my map man.
Our game lasted through to the very last turn in the road. I would like to say that I won, but when I saw the cathedral rising ahead of me through the narrow strip of light at the end of the road, I forgot my silly game and realised that I had arrived and there was some serious sightseeing to do. (You can read that as I lost if you like, you probably will anyway, but I know that the game was abandoned. Honest.)
I won´t spoil the surprise by going on about the sights I saw, but there were many. I trudged what seemed like miles of corridors of art and architecture and listened to what seemed like hours of recorded voices. It was fascinating, but it all paled into insignificance when I saw what I had come to see….
I won´t even tell you what it was, just suffice to say that I nearly missed it, but it was what I came to Spain to see. I was on my way out of the monument, passing through the gift shop when I saw ‘my picture’ on a postcard and realised that it wasn´t waiting for me in Granada, it was right here. I almost ran back to take my picture, relieved that fate had intervened on my behalf.
The rest of the day was a gentle come down from that point. I wandered, I strolled, I hopped on the (I know, I´m ashamed to say it) tourist bus when my feet were fit to fall off. Then later and refreshed as the sun set I walked through the attractive Old Quarter of town.
The Old Quarter is a labrynth of streets and as they twisted and turned I was enchanted by the Christmas lights and lost in the crowd. Eventually, I decided that it was time to face the truth that I was lost again, I was tired and ready to go back to the hostel and in no state to decode another map. Where would I start? I had no idea where I was, but wait! Was that the ruddy glow of a Burger King? Wasn´t that the inviting warmth of Ben & Jerry´s? Fifty yards on and I was back at my hostel. You see, I am an amazing navigator after all, when fate is on my side.