Via de La Plata

 

FIRST DAYS IN ANDALUSIA

 

 

A monk asked Yunmen, “what is it, when trees shrink and leaves fall?”

Yunmen answered, “the body exposed to the golden wind!”

 

I have chosen the metaphor above for my pilgrimage. Being fully aware of my ageing body, I was determined to meet the challenges of the pilgrimage with a mind honouring the golden wind.

 

I started my nearly four week long trek in Seville, the capital of Andalusia. My guide book suggested a minimum visit of one day in order to be able to experience its flair, its monumental buildings, the beautiful gardens and culture. “Do not miss a flamenco performance” my son Lorenz advised me before my departure. However, I hardly could do any of the interesting things he suggested because I had not even one full day for the visit. It was the start of my training of letting go. I restricted myself to just wander around in the gorgeous city and visit only a few buildings

 

One of many narrow cobbled streets covered by white canvas to provide shade.

 

 

Part of the gothic cathedral,  “Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede”, photographed from the 96m high bell tower Giralda, once a minaret. The courtyard with the orange trees, “Patio de los Naranjas”, is also a remnant of the former mosque standing on this place.

 

 

 

The cathedral (third largest church in the world and the largest Gothic cathedral) is dedicated as an Unesco Heritage Site. I could not stop looking up to the ceiling showing graceful  natural patterns of flowers and plants frozen in stone – what an amazing space!

 

 

 

Beside the tallest altar in the world, the cathedral also houses the grave of Christopher Columbus, who returned to Seville after his discovery of the New World in 1492. After that, Sevilla became a center of world trade. 

 

 

 

Part of the floor in the Cathedral

 

 

 

Although my motivation to walk the pilgrimage is not connected with Christian beliefs, I still wanted to see the statue of St. James in a niche outside of the cathedral. Many Christian pilgrims must have come to him and ask for protection on their journey to the north.

 

 

 

A Flamenco dancer on the street beside the cathedral – she inspired the lady on the left holding an umbrella to dance with her

 

 

 

One of many inner courtyards built in the Spanish Mudejar style

 

 

 

Azulejos tiles, very typical for Seville

 

 

 

Entrance to the University of Seville, once the Fabrico de Tabacos where Carmen worked, the main character of the opera Carmen

 

 

 

Torre de Oro (golden tower), an Islamic watchtower

 

 

In the morning, I pulled the following sentence from my selection   “if the experience of my feet is true”. This reinforced my concern about my shoes. Was it the right decision to walk in barefoot shoes? I felt already a slight pain after walking for hours on the hard cobblestones in Seville.

It was raining when I left Seville for my next destination, Guillena. The rain brought relief from the heat of the day before. After crossing the river Rio Guadalquivir, I soon reached the periphery of the city and was confronted with the dark side of our modern life. Trash, high voltage lines, freeway underpasses, dead plants, derelict buildings, a desolate landscape with fences closing off agricultural areas with seemingly no other purpose than marking it as a private area. It was disturbing and sad to see the devastation our civilisation has on nature. However, sometimes a chicory plant or a dried grass or thistle covered by white snail houses lifted my mood.

 

 

High voltage lines, trash, desolate buildings,…

 

 

 

 

 

Alone with the wind

on the way straight to the north

see- a chicory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothes and other trash left beside the road

 

On the way to Guillena, I passed the former Roman city Italica, the first testimony of Roman presence on the Via de la Plata. I did not have time to see the entire city, but was impressed by the parts I could visit. Italica was founded in 206 BC and was probably the birth place of emperor Trajan and emperor Hadrian.

 

 

Entrance to the arena. It could hold 25,000 spectators and was one of the largest amphitheatres of the Roman empire. Several Roman goddesses served as guardians of the arena. Their footprints were carved into marble at the entrance. I placed my feet on two of them – it might have been the footprints of Hecate, whose statue was found in the arena. I asked for protection of my feet.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Part of the series “Game of Thrones” was filmed in this amphitheatre

 

After staying in a lovely Albergue in Guillena, the countryside became more pleasant. It is the start of huge pastures for cattle and sheep called Dehesa and of orchards of seemingly endless rows of olive trees.

 

 

 

 

 

A fascinating ant road ending in two holes, creating a head of a “wild woman”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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gwwien
gwwienhttps://simplyjustwalking.com
Born and raised in a village along the Danube in Austria, Traude Wild soon ventured out into the world. After a two-year program for tourism in Klesheim/Salzburg, she spent nearly a year in South Africa and Namibia. By returning back to Austria, she acquired a Master of Economics at the University of Vienna. After moving to the United States with her four children, she studied Art History at Arizona State University and stayed in the United States for fourteen years. Here, she was teaching Art History in several Universities like Webster University and University of Missouri-St. Louis. Now, she lives partially in Arizona and Vienna and works together with her husband for the University of South-Carolina, Moore School of business as Adjunct Professor organising and leading Study tours in Central Europe. She also teaches at the Sigmund Freud University in Vienna. Since 1999, she is practicing Zen meditation in the lineage of Katagiri Roshi. She loves to hike and to write and is a student of Natalie Goldberg. During her often many weeks long hikes she brings her awareness into the Here and Now, describing her experiences in an authentic way. She loves to walk pilgrimages. The longest hike so far was the 1,400 km long 88 Temple pilgrimage in Shikoku, Japan in 2016.

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