Wednesday, 01-04-2015. Day 224 (Supplemental).
Traffic, Parades, and Catholic Kings.
Our projected time to arrive in Seville was after 6:00 p.m., but as we got close, something our host in Toledo mentioned started to gnaw at us. We had arrived in Spain at the start of Semana Santa, or Holy Week. These are the days leading up to Easter, and they are quite celebratory in Spain.
Our Toledo host had told us about the time he went to Seville for Semana Santa and saw all the fantastic parades that were held in the city. As we approached the borders of Seville and the traffic became thicker, we started thinking that we might run into one of these legendary parades.
Boy, did we ever.
By the time we got to the city proper, we found ourselves in all-out traffic chaos. We were in a long line of cars that was moving a few at a time through traffic lights, and when we came to the street where we had to take a left turn to reach our hotel, the road was blocked off.
Our hotel was on Calle Reyes Católicos, and, naturally (with a name like that) it's one of the main parade routes. Getting to our hotel would be impossible.
(Aside: This would have been a nice thing for the hotel to have mentioned to us in any of the various email correspondences we'd had with them.)
So we called the hotel and let them know about our situation and what we could do to get to our room. The nice woman we spoke with told us that we could park at a public parking facility a few blocks away. It was an easy walk from there. No problem. I asked her what to do if that was full, and she said it wouldn't be because it was quite large. Excellent news!
So we slowly crawled along the road with all the other cars and eventually reached the nearby parking facility. It was, of course, full.
We drove around Seville for a little while, negotiating narrow one-way streets filled with anxious parade goers as we tried to figure out our options. Our worst case scenario had us driving a short distance out out of town (we weren't quite sure to where) and doing something (we weren't quite sure what) until 9:00 p.m. That's when the parade would be over and we could drive up Calle Reyes Católicos.
Then, as we drove over a bridge thinking we might find some parking on the other side of the river (we didn't; it was already filling up with parked cars), we noticed a stream of cars heading under the bridge toward a parking lot with what looked like many vacancies. But those spaces were going fast. So we figured out how to get down there and, after a short bit of waiting in a line of cars, found ourselves a nice parking spot in an underground facility. Victory!
We left the big luggage in the car and walked to the hotel to check in with just our backpacks. We checked in and went up to our room, dropped everything off, and immediately turned around and walked back to the car to get the rest of the luggage. Then it was back to the hotel, dragging our rolling luggage through the streets of Seville.
By the time we got everything into the room it was pushing 10:30 p.m. and we were starving. We went out and found a nearby tapas restaurant called La Chunga that was quite good, even if we ate standing up (like you do sometimes when Semana Santa is in full swing).
After dinner if was quite late, and, despite sitting in a car for almost six hours, we were quite tired. So we walked back to the hotel, keenly aware that there was still much revelry going on (and no way we could have driven up Calle Reyes Católicos even then).
After all that, we didn't get back to the room and in bed until after midnight.