Tag Archive: Seville

Hi, I’m Nate.  This is the end of my second year of living in Prague.  It’s been another very fun year of adventures!

In September I celebrated my birthday with my friends from school.

Cake, friends, presents...what can be better?

Cake, friends, presents…what can be better?

In October we went for a week to Slovenia.  That’s part of the old Yugoslavia. It’s next to Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Italy.

This is the view from the castle on the cliffs above Lake Bled.

This is the view from the castle on the cliffs above Lake Bled.

See the little island near the end of the lake with the church spire?


Dad rowed us to the island.

We rang the church bell!

We rang the church bell!

Another day Dad drove us through the Julian Alps.

Look at THAT!  Pretty cool place for a picnic!

Look at THAT! Pretty cool place for a picnic!

We climbed around a five hundred year old castle built into a cliff. Read about the robber baron who got shot by a cannonball while sitting on the toilet:



Doesn’t it look like a place from Lord of the Rings?

In December we celebrated Christmas TWICE!! Once in California and once in Milwaukee!

At my Auntie Robin's house on Christmas morning!

At my Auntie Robin’s house on a sunny California Christmas morning!

In Milwaukee I got to see my sister, grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins. I got to meet my new twin cousins!

I got to hang out with my big sister, Sam.

I got to hang out with my big sister, Sam.

In February we visited our Turkish friends.  We had a blast!  We ate tons of great home cooked food. We went to a cafe on the Bosphorus.


See the cat behind us?

We went on a cruise on the Bosphorus with friends from Prague.  It was a VERY rainy day!

Hanging out with the Myers.

Later that day we tried dessert with chicken in it!!

The red one is the Turkish flag.

The red one is the Turkish flag.

After Istanbul we went to visit our other Turkish friends in Ankara.  It was so fun!

Istanbul is amazing!

Istanbul is cool!

In April we went to Seville, Spain for our Easter Break.  Our friend Ana Maria and her family showed us the Semana Santa (Holy Week) processions.

Mom says this tradition is hundreds of years old!

Mom says this tradition is hundreds of years old!

You can read about our adventures in Seville here:


This is the procession in front of the float,

This is the procession in front of the float.

Next, we went to Granada at the end of March into the first week of April.

The Alhambra!

The Alhambra!

Mom and Dad slept late every day.  They let me watch lots of Spanish cartoons on TV. I love Cosmic Cat! You can see more photos of Granada here:


It was fun exploring the Alhambra, but we got drenched at the end!

It was fun exploring the Alhambra, but we got drenched at the end!

One day we went for a day trip to Cordoba to see the Mezquita.

It was a mosque built in the 900's.

It is a mosque built in the 900’s on the ruins of a Visigothic church from the 600’s.

See, it looks like a mosque, right?

See, it looks like a mosque, right?

But there's a big cathedral that pops out of the middle of the mosque!

But there’s a big cathedral that pops out of the middle of the mosque!

The cathedral was built in the 1200’s after the Spanish kicked out the Moors.

You can read about more Spain adventures here:


In May we went to Herrnhut, Germany for a weekend retreat with our friends from church.

The view from the prayer tower.

The view from the prayer tower.

Just being silly!

Just being silly!

June was a CRAZY month! Prague got flooded and my school was shut down.  I went to school in a hotel for a week! Then we had visitors from India.  Next, Sydney and her family come to stay with us and we took them to the Summer Fayre.  It was a blast!

i got launched in the air!

I got launched in the air!

Walking home with Sydney after Summer Fayre.

Walking home with Sydney after Summer Fayre.

Sydney and her family are traveling around the world for two years!  You can read about their adventures here:


It’s been a really fun school year.  I’m excited for summer vacation.  On Monday we leave on a road trip to Germany, Italy and France. Then we’ll come home for five days, and after that we’ll go to Israel.  It’s going to be fun!

Plaza de Espana, Seville

Plaza de Espana, Seville

We had a wonderful eleven-day vacation in Spain last month.  We visited Seville, Cordoba and Granada.  Usually we use public transport when traveling, but discovered going by train within Spain is very expensive.  We stayed with friends in Seville and Granada, but the location in Granada was outside the city, so we needed to rent a car.

Since I am the family travel agent, I went online to research car costs, and was delighted to find a compact car that cost about $34 a day with insurance included.

The Alcazar gardens in Seville.

The Alcazar gardens in Seville.

When it’s too good to be true, it probably isn’t good or true!  Here are our lessons learned:

Tip #1: Go with a well-known, proven agency and read the fine print in the offer.

I didn’t.  I LOATHE reading fine print! We booked with Marbesol. Marbesol?? When we arrived to pick up our car, we discovered that we had a “meet and greet: pick up with a full tank and bring it back empty”.  Sounded good to me when I booked, but I didn’t read that “the company may charge you for gas”.  We were told that we would have to pay 108 Euros for the privilege of bringing the car back empty (no refund for a partially full tank) AND we’d have to pay an 800 Euro deposit because the insurance didn’t cover everything. The car was tiny, and we knew a tank of gas would be much less than 108 Euros. Our other choice was to pay 129 Euros, which included full coverage, but we had to bring the car back with a full tank.  So, we chose the second plan. Our good deal was now a not-so-good deal.


The Albayzin in Granada

Tip #2: Read the contract carefully before you purchase.

Full coverage may not be full coverage!  When we returned our car, the couple ahead of us had the misfortune to have a fender bender.  Nothing serious, but they were relieved that they had purchased full insurance. The agent congratulated them on having full coverage and said they only had to pay 245 Euros for the time the car would be out of commission for repair work.  They argued that they had full coverage; but the agent said it didn’t cover the days the car would be out of commission.  ARRRGGHHH!

The Albayzin; the Moorish quarter of Granada.  Notice the Alhambra in the background!

The Albayzin; the Moorish quarter of Granada. Notice the Alhambra in the background!

Tip 3: Don’t pay for insurance with a third party company when you book the car online.

The few times that we have done this, the “independent party insurance” never covers enough, so you end up purchasing additional insurance from the car rental company.

We got to see an authentic flamenco concert. We were the only tourists there!

We got to see an authentic flamenco concert. We were the only tourists there!

Tip #4: If you are going to a major European city, don’t rent a car!!

Even if you park it and use public transport, parking fees are 15+ Euros a day. Public transport is usually much more efficient and cost effective.


The amazing Mezquita Mosque-Church in Cordoba.

Tip #5: If you do rent a car, rent the smallest possible car that will fit you and your baggage.

Our car was tiny, but driving in Granada was very stressful because there were dozens of tiny one-way streets that would be more aptly called alleys.  They had treacherous two foot metal posts about six inches on either side of the car that lined the alleys (to prevent parking).  The street/alleys were so narrow that Andy sometimes had to do a three or four point turn just to make a right or left turn!

Parking garages often have insanely small parking spaces, with only about eight-foot aisle between the front of your car and the car opposite.  We spent almost thirty minutes trying to get our tiny car into a tiny parking space!


That’s how close another car parked to ours!

Tip #6:Update your GPS!

Our Garmin is two years old, and as we were driving to the airport there was a split in the road in real life, but only one road on our Garmin.  Then our Garmin told us we were driving on unpaved roads and wanted us to turn around, when in reality we were on a newly built highway.  Fortunately we eventually found our way to the rental agency, but there were a few stressful moments!

We will do another car rental for a Germany-Italy-France trip in the summer, and we will hopefully learn from our own mistakes.  We hope you can learn from our mistakes as well!  Do you have any tips for us?


The best part of traveling is not the sights you see, but the people you meet.  We were blessed to have Sevillan friends who introduced us to their beautiful city and showed us how they celebrate Semana Santa with its traditions that date back to the 16th century.

The festivities start on Palm Sunday and conclude on Easter morning. More than 50,000 people wear traditional robes to parade in one of the 50+ processions, which celebrate the passion, death and resurrection of Christ.

The processions are organized by Catholic brotherhoods (confradias).

Each procession has a designated route. Each procession has two or three pasos (floats), one or two of them representing a scene of the Passion, and the other one an image of the Virgin Mary.

One of our friends took us to Iglesia Colegial San Salvador to see some of the pasos that are part of the processions.

Note: this is NOT the main cathedral of Seville!

The image of Jesus is by Juan Martinez Montanes in 1615.


Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

Watch this paso on youtube:

Watch for this paso later…

Our friends invited us to a special family lunch on Thursday of Semana Santa.  The food was delicious!


Our friends took us to watch the processions.  We found lots of people lining the street, hours before the procession was to start.  It was a social, family event!

Waiting for the procession with our friends!

Waiting for the procession with our friends!

Waiting for the procession.

Holy Wednesday.

Watching from balconies...premium locations!

Watching from balconies…premium locations!

Each procession has an order to it:

A great cross (called Cruz del Guia) is carried at the beginning of each procession to open the way. A musical band follows or precedes the paso.

The music is beautiful!!!

The music is beautiful!!!

Listen to the music here:



Then come the nazarenos who are members of the brotherhood. Nazarenos are dressed in a robe, with a tall pointed hat to hide their identity.

The Nazarenos.

Nazarenos de la Exaltación(Los Caballos)

A group of altar boys, dressed like priests and carrying either chandeliers or incense follow the Nazarenos.


Next comes the paso.  You have to be there to feel the emotion in the crowd. The crowd is reverent, expectant. There is a hush that comes over the crowd as the paso goes by.

The paso.

The paso: “Sagrada Columna y Azotes”.

A number of penitents follow the paso. They carry wooden crosses to make public penance. The penitents wear the habit and the hood of the brotherhood, but their hood is not pointed.

The penitents.

The penitents.

The costaleros are the most important members of the processions.They carry the paso by supporting the beams upon their shoulders and necks.  Each one supports a weight of about 100 pounds for up to 8 hours!  There are about 40 costaleros per paso.  The pasos weigh about 4000 pounds. The costaleros also lift, move and lower the paso, unseen beneath the velvet skirts of the paso. The costaleros consider it a great honor to carry the paso.

The costaleros.

The costaleros.

Costaleros watching the procession, taking a much deserved break.

Costaleros watching the procession, taking a much-deserved break.

Our friends took us around the city to watch other processions.  It was a huge blessing to be with locals who knew where to go and how to squeeze through the crowds to find the right place to wait for the procession!



Cute kid watching the processions!

Cute kid watching the processions!

The night time processions were stunning, with the candlelit pasos. The atmosphere was…well, you need to experience it first hand to understand!




If you would like to learn more about Semana Santa and the Cofradias, try the sites below.  They were helpful as I did research for this post. Thanks also to Ana C. for her help!



A big thank you to our friends from Sevilla!  We will always remember our wonderful week in your beautiful city!!