Torre de Oro

Mihail Pandrea reviews his first Ryder team trip, where Team Malcolm visited sunny Seville, the capital of Andalusia in Spain.

On a foggy November morning, suspense was growing around the whole of the UK for the South Africa v England final in the Rugby world cup.  People across the UK were establishing themselves on their sofas for the historic Saturday morning game.  Conversely, Team Malcolm were propping a phone up with salt and pepper shakers in the Wetherspoons at Edinburgh Airport, waiting to board their flight to one of the most important cities in the Iberian Peninsula, at half time.

The Urbis – once known as ‘Spal’ during Tartesian times, ‘Ishbiliya’ during the Moorish period or ‘Hispalis’ during the Roman era – is now the setting of modern day Seville.  The Andalusian capital was awaiting the members of the Glasgow team with sunshine and temperatures that not even the most positive Scotsman would expect in November.

Whilst Seville was the birth place of two of the Roman Empire’s most important emperors, Traianus and Hadrian, it could also be said that everyone in Team Malcolm has links to the Roman Empire.  Traianus was the conqueror of Dacia (modern day Romania) and Hadrian was the conqueror of Britannia.  Hadrian was followed in power by Antoninus Pius, the leader of the successful military campaign that ended up with the construction of the Antonine wall just a few miles from Glasgow.  This trip was therefore a pilgrimage of sorts, providing an opportunity to trace back the roots of an important stage in our common history.

History aside – as soon as we arrived, we checked in to our centrally located, warm and welcoming flat in Calle Cristobal de Castillejo.  After a short wait, our host Pedro showed us around, gave us his introduction and set us free to enjoy what those on Spanish time might call a late breakfast.  To us, it was 14:00.

When in Ro….Seville, do as the Andalusians do – what better way to start the day than with a vast selection of delicious tapas?  We were spoiled for choice and realised that the Romans weren’t always right.  If the Romans came with “divide et impera” (divide and conquer), we went for unity and all agreed that “There is no I in tapas”.  This phrase quickly became the motto of Team Malcolm’s trip.  We spent the rest of the afternoon near Plaza el Cabildo, exchanging ideas and getting to know more about each other, all while having a good laugh over a vino or two.

Team Malcolm enjoying the first round of tapas
Team Malcolm enjoying the first round of tapas

In the evening, we roamed through the streets leading to Plaza Nueva to view the beautiful combination of Gothic, Renaissance and Mudejar architecture, all mixed with Baroque elements from the golden era of Spain.

After another tapas session for dinner, we went on enjoying the breeze of Seville doing what I was never expecting when joining the Glasgow team – having a glass of wine on a terrace in November, without any knitwear on.

Gothic - Seville Cathedral
Gothic - Seville Cathedral

Renaissance - Cloistered courtyard, Real Alcazar
Renaissance - Cloistered courtyard, Real Alcazar

The second day of the trip started with a quick breakfast and then it was time to delve into the city.  Whether we chose the way of the apostles (“per pedes apostolorum”) or the sustainable alternative of a scooter tour, we all went time travelling in this temporal setting of modern day Seville.  From medieval edifices to the Expo 92 site, Team Malcolm experienced timeless pieces of architecture and urbanism, all while enjoying the weather of former Al-Andalus (Arab denomination for current Andalusia).

Later on, some of the group went to view the main sights around the centre of Seville, while others decided to cross the Guadalquivir and explore the working class neighbourhood of Tirana.  This involved exploring the local surroundings while observing how people live outside the tourist generated Brownian movement of the old town.

Medieval Edifice - Torre del Oro
Medieval Edifice - Torre del Oro
Expo 92 edifice - Torre Sevilla
Expo 92 edifice - Torre Sevilla

We gathered for dinner and, as the modern day Romans would say “Non c'è due senza tre” (there’s no second without the third), we went for a third round of tapas.  After dinner, we visited the Parasol pavilion, where we observed the structural aesthetic of a contrasting social space.

On the third and final full day of the trip, we were amazed by the wonderous palace of Real Alcazar.  A Christian palace built by mudejars (Moroccan Muslim craftsmen) employed by Alfonso X of Castille, Real Alcazar was built immediately after the Christian Reconquista to show the dominance of Christianity in the Iberic peninsula as well as the wealth of the empire. 

Renaissance and Mudejar Interior - Real Alcazar
Renaissance and Mudejar Interior - Real Alcazar
Gothic and Mudejar interior - Real Alcazar
Gothic and Mudejar interior - Real Alcazar

Much like the previous day, we gathered for dinner and then said goodbye to the Andalusian evenings by enjoying a cerveza near Ayutamento de Sevilla where it all started – Plaza Nueva.

The last day, the day of our homecoming to Glasgow, had all of us buying last minute souvenirs for loved ones, in addition to experiencing a full Spanish breakfast at Gusto, a local favourite just across Catedral de Sevilla.  To conclude our trip, the team, guided by Chris Malcolm, went to create a few last minute memories such as a team photo.  We also enjoyed sunbathing on the steps of Torre del Oro on the eastern bank of the Guadalquivir River, as well as admiring the edifice of Prevision Espanola, one of the buildings designed by Rafael Moneo in Andalucía.

Upon arriving back in Edinburgh, the woolly jumpers promptly made a reappearance.

Team Malcolm photo
Team Malcolm photo

Adios España!  Bienvenido a Scotia!  Gracias Ryder!  Viva Team Malcolm!