As part of my plan to get the family out of the house on Sundays, to avoid driving each other mad or watching so much TV we become zombies, we’ve made two visits to nearby places of interest – last week and today.
The first was to Cañada de los Pajaros, a bird sanctuary just south of Seville. Now I’m no twitcher, but it’s like flowers – if they’re brightly coloured, or cute, or unusual-looking, then I’m interested.
On our arrival, we were a bit horrified to find that the entrance fee had gone up from the very reasonable 1.50 euros quoted in a (OK, rather out-of-date) brochure for Seville province, to 10 euros. On the website, it avoided any mention of pricing. Not surprising, as it would put most people off.
But on the upside, everyone else clearly agreed (one couple with a baby turned tail when they saw the tariff), so we had the place to ourselves. There’s a lake with lots of flamingos, storks and various ducks. In enclosures (OK, cages) there were ravens, with their glossy, black feathers, which made me think of the Tower of London.
The sanctuary is privately owned, and runs various breeding programmes, including one for the crested coot. In terms of colour, the underside of the flamingos wings were a candy floss pink, and here are some of the other eye-catchingly brilliant feathered attractions. We were able to feed them, too – one of my reasons for going to the Cañada was for the kids to be up close to nature, <a href="“>one of the things I miss about England, which is packed with farms and farm parks and zoos where children can feed animals.
We had a lovely walk around the lake, although admittedly this is not the best time of year to see it, as much of it has dried up due to lack of rain. Spring is a good time, for floral colour too. There’s a restaurant with a lake next to it (more of a puddle at the moment), so you can have your lunch with a view of birds through the walls of glass.
Today’s outing was more cultural and historic – Italica, the Roman city near Seville. It’s in a town called Santiponce, most of which is built over the old part of Italica (vetus urbs) – you can see how some houses are higher than others when you drive through it – so what you visit is the new part (novus urbs). The Roman emperors Hadrian and Trajan were both born here – and have various streets and hotels named after them in Seville, whose name then was Hispalis. Andalucia roughly province in Roman times was named Baetica, and its archaeological highlights today include the seaside town of Baelo Claudia.
The site boasts a spectacular amphitheatre – the third-largest in the Roman Empire, as well as temples, baths and houses; the theatre is located in the town of Santiponce. Much of it has been restored, or at least shored up, by ugly modern brick or cement. For me, the best part of any visit to Italica are the mosaics. I love Roman mosaics, as seen in Seville’s new Antiquarium Roman museum, under the Mushrooms (Metropol Parasol).
And here they have some truly marvellous mosaics. One of the amazing thing about these 2000-year-old works of art is how well preserved they are – the colours are still bright, and the birds are easily recognised today. I love that feeling of continuity.
Here are some Roman birds – see if you can guess what they are.
OK, that’s today’s A Post a Day (I’m doing a blog post every day for October, which will vary somewhat in length and quality, I fear). Don’t forget to check out my fellow blogger Digamama‘s post for today too. Hers is about potties, but as always she makes it stylish, sharp and witty.