5/10/07 We are still at Moron Air Force Base south of Seville, visiting Jerry & Lori Traughber. But we have had a few interesting experiences so I thought I would write this. Tuesday we all went in to Seville and did some exploring. We had been there last year with Lee & Susie too, and seen some of the highlights such as the Plaza de Espana. This is a very beautiful and different building which was built for the international exposition in 1929. This time we saw more buildings from that event and they were obvious because they had the country name across the front of them in tile, such as Guatemala, or Mexico. The Plaza de Toros, or bull fight ring, was near the parking garage but we only saw the outside. It is right in the middle of the old downtown part and there are buildings all around it, which surprises us because we are used to arenas where there are parking lots all around them. Elaine and I visited the cathedral and the attached Giralda Bell Tower. Not only is this the world's third largest cathedral, after St Peter's at the Vatican and St. Paul's in London, but it is so old that it was first built as a mosque when the Moors were here. It is also the world's largest Gothic cathedral. It was started in 1181. In 1218 it was changed to a cathedral. Entering the cathedral we experienced one of the only advantages of getting this old - a break in the entry fee from 7 Euros to 2. Hooray! The interior was quite ornate and had interesting and complex carved choir stalls, altars, etc. but lots of them looked like they needed to be dusted! There is a section called the Treasury, where objects made of silver, gold and other precious metals and gems are displayed. The workmanship is incredible. The attached bell tower is 98 meters tall, and climbing it is fairly easy because there are no steps, just inclined ramps and you circle around and around in a square pattern. The view of Seville from the top was fantastic and we had a beautifully clear day for taking a few pictures. We decided to leave just in time because a school group was coming up there so there was going to be hundreds of noisy kids in a small area. Jerry likes the Irish pub nearby, called Flaherty's so we had lunch there. Very good beer (Murphy's) and excellent food, plus a nice place to sit outside. After a walk through Maria Luiza Park, a huge wonderfully green area full of trees and flowers and right in the middle of the old town, we headed back to the air base.
Yesterday there was an exciting event here at the base. The Airbus A380 flew in for a few days because they are testing it here. This is one of the few places in Europe that have a big enough runway for it. The runway here is large enough that they can land the space shuttle here and every time there is a launch, this place has to be in readiness. So we went over to the flight line to see it and it is HUGE. It can hold over 500 passengers, although none were on it this time. They are now doing lots of approaches, landings, touch-downs, etc. so we are seeing it in the sky a lot. It is amazingly quiet for such a huge plane. The Spanish fighter jets that fly in and out of this base are about 10 times as loud.
Today Lori is driving us to Jerez. We will try to see some places such as the Spanish Riding School and one of the sherry bodegas for which Jerez is famous. Then she will drop us off at the airport for our flight to Madrid. The next post will be from back in the good old USA!