Or as you may know it, Seville.  Fourth largest city in Spain, known (according to MrS) as El Sarten – the frying pan, due to its hot climate. Summer runs from May to October so we enjoyed a change from the wet and wind of home. Mmmmm, temperatures of 30 degrees, bright sunshine and warm nights, sandals, summer dresses and restaurants gently misting their outside terraces.

MrS even sat out on our terrace in shorts!


they don’t come out very often!

It really was a short break but a predawn flight from Edinburgh helped  maximise our time. Mind you we didn’t feel so chirpy about that getting up at 4am.

It had been a while since we’d been to such a major tourist city so the queue for the Cathedral and the crowds inside were a bit disconcerting. Especially when you consider that it’s the biggest Gothic Cathedral in the world.  It was only after we’d visited that we read the guide book recommendation to avoid the worst of the queues outside by buying the joint visit ticket from St Salvador church, oops!

catherdarl 2

Cathedral with a tiny bit of the Giralda tower peeking out


So, magnificent though it is,  it wasn’t my favourite visit and we ended up giving the other “must see” site a miss; when we  arrived at the Real Alcazar we couldn’t face the queue winding around the block.

But we found some absolutely wonderful places to visit which were all but empty.

The Ceramics Museum in the Triana district, across the river from the Cathedral and Palace was once home to the ceramics industry and one former factory is now a beautiful museum.


The industry may have gone but tiles are still all around.

Another quieter but definitely worth visiting place was the Museum of Popular Arts and Culture it’s free to EU citizens  so our timing was good for that one.

Of course food and drink featured prominently

Seville was the home of the artist Murillo , we were able to have a close up view of two of his masterpieces* at the Caridad Hospital

the patio of the Caridad Hospital

On our last morning we admired more of Murillo and his great inspiration  Zurbaran at the Fine Arts Museum


Then we continued our “tradition”** of a last day long lunch at Taberna de la Albardero


…..followed by a visit to the church of St Salvador where we should have started out.

Three busy days and nights and plenty more to go back for.


Marina X


*Murillo Close up – “The miracle of the loaves and fishes” and “Moses drawing water from the rock”

**we’ve done it once, maybe twice before


We stayed at the Hotel Inglaterra which has a great central position on Plaza Nueva, and our room had a fabulous terrace with views (breakfast pic)

We loved our first lunch at El Pinton in the Santa Cruz district and I would recommend the amazing tempura egg. (next to breakfast pic)


We sneaked away from the Easter snows and enjoyed a few days in the city of Cartagena. The one in Spain, though I’d like to visit the Colombian one too. What a fascinating place, inhabited for nearly three thousand years,  layers peel away,  almost literally in some cases* to display its history.

Now  MrS is the historian so I may get this wrong but New Carthage** has been Punic, Phoenician, Roman, Moorish and now Spanish. There are lots of museums where you can discover all this history or you can simply wander around the streets.

We did quite a bit of both…..

Here’s the Roman theatre where I practised my voice projection

roman theatre

“Can you hear me at the back MrS?”

And he could, those Romans knew a thing or two about acoustics.  Lots of money has been spent, and well spent, on interpreting Cartagena’s rich history.   I found the Roman

remains the easiest to understand of any I’ve visited. All around the city you can come across vestiges of the past,  Roman roads peeking through a square, villas hidden under a  modern street, temples, baths and workshops. Many reused over the centuries and then emerging again, the theatre once lay under the Cathedral, which was itself destroyed during the Civil War.

It’s not just land based history, there are museums of the sea, one the fascinating Museum of Underwater Archeology explores the objects lost overboard or otherwise to the sea over the centuries.  And you can also visit the one of the  first submarines at The Naval Museum although that’s one we had to leave for  another  visit.

We spent most of our time wandering around the city, it’s very walkable, but did take a morning out on the Feve train to Los Nietos on the Mar Menor.  I’d thought of having a swim or perhaps lunch beside this inland sea, Europe’s largest.


But.  It was closed. Well not completely, the yacht club, a restaurant  and one other bar was open, but the resort had a desolate air with houses shut up for the season and perhaps permanently? People must visit, the marina was full of boats, many of them very smart motor cruisers;  the beach was clean and being cleaned, we saw  a couple of women settling down for some sun there,  and there were others like us enjoying a stroll along the promenade.  But where was everyone else?  Over on the La Manga strip perhaps?  I don’t know, but we decided to head  back to Cartagena for lunch.

Ah lunch…..We stayed at The NH hotel Cartagena it was comfortable, very central and we had a terrace with a view of the Port. But we stayed on a room only basis so there was none of that filling up on breakfast to see you through the day. Instead we ate breakfast at cafes***


……….and had a stop for lunch in the early afternoon;  useful as shops etc tended to close over lunch time.  Lunch became progressively longer and more elaborate as the week went on…

Culminating in a  three hour lunch at La Marquesita  on Friday before leaving for the airport. Excellent food and great people watching too.

That lunch was superb but our best meal was dinner at Magoga.  The Blue Cheesecake being one of my top three puds EVER.


The dish on the right? Pork and smoked sardine, sounds odd, looks a bit brown? Tasted amazing.

Four days and we didn’t see everything, though we did our best to eat everything!

Until next time

Marina x

Version 3






*many historic 19th and early 20th century facades have been preserved, shored up, behind them empty lots waiting to be rebuilt or perhaps to reveal their pasts.

**those Carthaginians weren’t very imaginative when it came to names.

***actually that coffee in a glass, Cafe Asiatico, a Carthagenian speciality, was an afternoon treat, though we saw it consumed at breakfast.


We also visited Muram Cartagena’s museum of modern art in a beautiful modernist mansion the Palacio Aguirre.

Wondering about that spaceship like yacht? Sailing Yacht A


Lanzarote, part II

Around and about Arrecife


We’ve had cold and windy weather in Scotland and today it’s sleety too. So it’s no surprise that I’m looking back over my holiday snaps for a diversion. And is it a coincidence that while January thoughts so often turn to abstinence and diets,  many of my photos are of food?  And drink.

We started off on a high note at Lilium which fronts onto the new marina in Arrecife.


It was fun to have sunshine and warmth (even if a bit windy) at Christmas. We could have morning coffee outside, and on Christmas Day had a lovely long walk along the seafront. We needed it with all that food.


Of course we tried to eat healthily


With varying success………….


And we did manage to squeeze in some culture…..


And one last lunch


Marina x

Places we liked:

Restaurante Lilium

Estrella del Charco

Bar Andalucia

The Altamar restaurant at the Gran Hotel

Casa Amarilla museum

The Contemporary Art museum at Castillo San Jose


Not the 1980 song , though I did like that very much back in the day. (And still do if I’m honest). No, the city.  But once again this post will be dredging up memories, if not from my teens, but from my thirties. Eek!

Actually I was only *just* still in my thirties, I think I celebrated my 40th birthday right after we returned.

And a disclaimer, that coffee  above was enjoyed much closer to home.  I have no photos of that trip. I know I must that some momentos but I think they must be in the trunk which is currently in the inaccessible part of the house. But I thought some coffee would be appropriate.

So I  will have to try and paint a picture with words.

I can’t remember the name of the hotel we stayed in  but do remember it was out near the UN building. A quick search suggests it what is now the NH Danube City. All I can remember is that it was near the UN and the Danube. The Danube, which was certainly  a mighty river,  but equally certainly not blue; it was green.

It was a work trip for MrS* and he had been in the city a few days ahead of me. The night I arrived the cultural programme included an organ recital at St Stephen’s Cathedral. We headed out to this but dismayed by the length of the queue opted out and enjoyed a sociable evening with some lovely colleagues in a bierkellar.

The other thing I remember of that evening was that I wore a beautiful pair of Moschino mules. They were back and cream leather with a punched out design (like on brogues), a cute little bow and kitten heels. They were also  a half size too small for me. They hurt even when sitting down. I think that was the only time I wore them, although they only found their way to a charity shop three years ago. Maybe I thought my feet would shrink if I washed them enough?

MrS was busy every day and probably would struggle to describe Vienna apart from the inside of the congress centre.  Me?  I had a combined transport and museum card and had a  super time.

I rode the tram right around the Ringstrasse, ate bratwurst, drank more coffee and cake than you would think humanly possible and gorged on galleries. I visited Sissi’s flower strewn tomb in the Kaisergruft, marvelled at the modernity of the Frankfurt kitchen in the   MAK and discovered those Klein blues at Mumok.


I paid my respects at the  Silent Library


The finale of the congress was a ball at the Rathaus. The Vienna Opera dancers delighted us with their carefully choreographed Viennese Waltzes. And then MrS and I tore up the floor  with our rather more improvised moves.

I swam in the Danube and saw but failed to ride the Reisenrad.

Still it’s always nice to leave something for the next visit.

And maybe then I’ll take some photos too.


the only bit of Vienna memorabilia I could lay my hands on

Marina x


*He was strictly speaking not MrS until the following year



Beyond the sea. But also the deep beautiful blue pigment derived from Lapis Lazuli.

For  centuries the most prized of pigments. Lapis was mined in Afghanistan, ground up and then caravanned along the Silk Road, through Samarkand where the  mosques and madrassas glistened with gold and ultramarine mosaic. Its destination was Venice and the studios of  artists.

Renaissance Madonnas and Titian’s Ariadne are draped in lapis, and cloaked with blue, blue skies. Vermeer’s girl wears a pearl earring but is wrapped up in blue.

Synthetic production  in the 19th century brought an even more vibrant hue, which  reached its possible apotheosis in the 20th century  in  the paintings of Yves Klein.  Paintings  which were entirely blue,  a blue which became  “International Klein Blue”

So deep. So compelling. I stood in front of those paintings in Vienna and sank into their blue.



The colour of the sky when the sun has set and the stars just begin to show.

And the deep of the sea, before the light fades forever.

Marina x