The word of the day – strolling. We had already hit the ‘must see’ monuments in Sevilla, so we decided to venture out into some of the other neighborhoods to get a more local feel of the city. In the morning we worked our way through the El Arenal, Centro, and La Macarena neighborhoods. We strolled down empty streets, as it is Sunday morning, and bumped into many churches, restaurants and unopened stores. Our only scheduled stop was the Basilica de la Macarena to view the Virgen de la Esperanza. Her tears are diamonds and she is clothed in elaborate and twinkling clothes. This statue draws quite a crowd as it is the best known of Seville’s Madonnas. I’ve seen many depictions of Mary in my visits to European churches, yet this one was truly unique. The contrast of her bedazzled garments and crown to her troubled expression and tears was unlike any other I had seen. Some say that they believe these are happy tears, even so, it took my breath away. We ended up at the church moments before Mass began, so we grabbed a folding chair and settled in. I was amazed at how much I could pick out of the service. The main difference from services in the States was the complete lack of music. We continued our stroll taking a different route back to our hotel for a siesta. Walking down Calle San Luis led us by at least six different churches and one palace. It was quite a walk!
Our evening paseo was in the opposite direction, away from city streets and into the Maria Luisa Park. We first stopped at the Hotel Alfonso XIII which was another famous palace. We sat in one of the gorgeous corridors looking into the patio and listened to a talented pianist fill the air with music. We had to drag ourselves out the door to continue our journey past the University, Lope de Vega Theatre and to Plaza de Espana. Wow! Chloe said that it was like Disneyworld – a semicircular Renaissance palace, towers at each end, a large central fountain and bridges across the little canal. Beautifully decorated with tiles and geometric designs, it was a perfect end to the day.