Sunday, February 6, 2011

Instensive Session Ends, Sightseeing Continues

Friday, February 4, 2011

After two weeks of my intensive Spanish course, I took my final exam on Friday.  I suppose the most rewarding part of the experience was the most awkward.  Our professor assigned three essays, each based upon interviews we had to conduct with random Spaniards "en la calle" (on the street).  My first attempt, after some hesitance, was a complete failure.  I could not understand a word a Sevillano business student was saying.  I nodded my head and pretended to record notes.  Thankfully, my future interviews were smoother.  Talking to students was less intimating than what was required of the final assignment: adults.  Culminating in a conversation with a rambling "jubilado" (retired man) at the train station, I am proud I stuck my neck out to talk to people.

I was eager to continue sightseeing after a week of papers, assignments, and studying.  We were set for a sunny weekend in Andalucía.  I started off in the Plaza de España, a seven-minute walk from my apartment.  It was the site of the 1929 international fair held in Sevilla.  It showcases tiled murals from each of Spain's provinces.  Not far away is the central building of the University of Sevilla.  The site had been a Tabacco Factory in the 18th century. 

Basílica de la Macarena:  This Church, built in 1947, is behind the most striking processions of Holy Week.  The church houses floats of Jesus and Mary, which sit behind the altar when not in a parade. I am always overwhelmed by the amount of ornamentation in Catholic Churches.  Getting to this church required my first ride on the bus in Sevilla.  Without thinking I took the bus that was "the long way."  But, since I was the only one on the bus, the driver asked me where I was going and shortened the root straight to the Macarena.

Museo de Bellas Artes:  This is Sevilla's primer fine art museum.  A palace (with court yards) houses the galleries, which showcase the two lesser known Spanish artists: Bartolomé Murillo and Francisco de Zurbarán.  Murillo receives the superior treatment with a whole chapel-like room (see below).  Zurbarán paintings are upstairs in narrow rooms (albeit with ornate ceilings).  Murillo is the renaissance religious painter,  Zurbarán the realist (more grim, austere) religious painter.  Although I arrived at 6 pm, I apparently started a trend.  The museum suddenly was flooded with people.  Glad I was not alone, though.

The other highlight of the day was Montse's lunch:  She treated me to my first experience with "mejillones" (mussels).  They were cooked to perfection in a cream sauce.  Perfect for soaking my slices of baguette that accompany every meal.  For latest food pictures, see "Montse's Home-Cooked Meals."

For pictures of this sightseeing day see "Plaza de Espana, Macarena, Bellas Artes:"

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