Spain


I’m spending most of today working my way back home, through Madrid and then Chicago.

While in Spain, I gathered quite a lot of stories, information, and photos. Many of these will appear here in upcoming blog posts, so stay tuned!

My flight home leaves Sevilla at 7:00 a.m. So rather than be the first of the group to leave, I opted to head home on Thursday, just in case there are any final issues to wrap up, and to make sure everyone makes it out of the hotel and on their way.

This also gives me one more afternoon to spend at the feria!

I will, of course, take the camera, but I may not end up with an enormous number of photos. Having been there a few times now, I’m realizing that the best way to enjoy the feria is to simply stand or sit, preferably in the shade, and soak it all in. A carriage ride through the streets offers a lovely view as well!

I was talking with several members of our group at breakfast this morning, and everyone agreed — now that they’ve seen it in person — that the feria is a spectacle that is difficult to describe, hard to comprehend until you’ve witnessed it, and nearly impossible to capture accurately in pictures.

There are the tree-lined streets, the colorful striped casetas (tents), the lights over the streets, and the paper lanterns over the sidewalks. There are the impossibly beautiful horses being ridden by impossibly elegant riders, and carriages of all types and sizes, full of festively dressed people who chat with each other, wave to friends, and drink sherry. There are rows of horses and riders stopped along the sidewalks in front of casetas, enjoying a snack and a drink offered by their friends. There’s the unimaginable, but seemingly never out of hand, gridlock of riders, carriages (from singles to five-in-hand turnouts), and people crossing the street on foot. There are women and girls in colorful, traditional outfits and men of all ages in elegant suits. There’s the rumble of iron wheels on cobblestones, the chiming of a multitude of harness bells, and the traditional strains of feria music. As a whole, it is truly a beautiful sight.

I will post some more photos, but you’ll have to see it for yourself to believe it!

Today was our group’s last full day in Sevilla.

After a free morning, we had a lovely farewell lunch in our hotel (mmm … paella) and then some of us walked over to the feria and others took a taxi. Walking gave most of us the opportunity to see a multitude of horse-drawn carriages driving in traffic, headed to the feria with full loads of passengers.

While we were waiting to cross a street near the fairgrounds, a coach that we had seen yesterday morning drove by. I was actually trying here to take a photo of the next vehicle in traffic behind the coach, but it turned out that Andrew was simultaneously pointing out the Park Drag:

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After we’d all walked around for a bit, admiring the sights, our host from yesterday morning’s visit stopped his horse at the curb where several of us were standing and invited our group for a ride on the Park Drag in question. There were nine of us standing there at the time, so eight filled the seats on the coach and, well, I took a few pictures.

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Later in the afternoon, I was fortunate to be able to sit in the shade and enjoy the parade of horses, carriages, and people — accompanied, of course, by the sound of hooves and carriage wheels on cobblestones, music, singing, laughter, and conversation.

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Our CAA group spent today wandering through, inspecting, and discussing two separate carriage collections. In between the two: a marvelous family lunch.

Without further ado, then, in order of when they were taken:

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It didn’t happen exactly as planned, but it did happen!

When the dirt floor in the bullring was deemed to be too wet to let the carriages in, this year’s carriage exhibition was quickly reorganized into a carriage parade in the streets around the bullring. But, hey, at least it wasn’t called off completely like the exhibitions last year and the year before were.

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