Past meets Present

Back in 1974, I was one of the lucky pupils that had the opportunity to join a school cruise around the Mediterranean.

I remember the highs and lows of the cruise very well.  Stormy seas, basic dormitories and horrible food were nothing compared with the variety of cultures and the amazing sights.  Aged just fifteen, this trip marked the start of my travelling obsession.

Sadly, the revolution in Portugal meant a last minute change of itinerary; Lisbon (now one of my favourite European cities) was replaced at the last minute by Cadiz and Seville.  I still remember the great pleasure of touring Seville Cathedral, but I also remember the bitter disappointment of a square that I knew should be beautiful, but was downcast and absolutely full of litter.  I just couldn’t understand why a square named after its home country should be in such a dreadful state.

That memory has stayed with me for over forty years and last week was my first return trip to Seville.  I went back to that litter-bound square and was completely unable to match my memories with what lay before me.

I began to wonder if I had confused Seville with another city.  Today’s Plaza de España is a stunning square; bright, colourful, clean and full of visitors.  I googled frantically to check out my failing memory and discovered that the square had undergone an expansive and expensive ( 14 million Euros) renovation in recent years, reopening in 2010.  I still couldn’t find any images of it back in the 70s, though, so when I got home this morning I just had to hunt out my old photo.

a1_20160606_1974 seville plaza de espana_2448 x 3264-3
Plaza de España, Seville,  1974

I have edited one of last week’s shots to look at the same section of the building and fountain.

a1_20160528_20160528_Seville_05105660_6000 x 4000
Plaza de España, Seville, 2016


I’ll take you on a proper walk around the square very soon – I’m still amazed at the change, but oh so delighted to now see the beauty that was missing all those years ago.



aDSC_0636_ppCopyright Debbie Smyth, 7 June 2016



13 thoughts on “Past meets Present

  1. Very good. Many people forget – so easily – how Europe was 40 or 50 years: dark, dirty, unkempt. And all it took what a bit of work and money. Contrast the pictures of Praga in 1968 (Russina invasion) all dar and sooty and today’s multicoloured city. Thanks for the trip.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fondly remember my own Mediterranean school cruise in 1973, but being docked in the harbour at Alexandria with depth charges exploding at the harbour entrance all night, and our cabin being below the water line, is perhaps one of the less pleasant memories! It was a great opportunity to travel at at time when such travel and experience was beyond the majority of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. At least the transformation went in a positive way! I was in Spain during Franco’s time and it was a rude awakening for an American to go past buildings with guards in front, all carrying serious weapons that they looked ready to use.



    1. I remember exactly that feeling when I landed at Naples at the start of this cruise. Now it has become a common sight in many places 😞

      On Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 12:57 PM, Travel with Intent wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amazing transformation! I’m often shocked by pictures from the 70s and how squalid and dreary many places (including Glasgow) looked compared to today. 74 would still have been the Franco era so maybe he didn’t care about looking after historic sites?


    1. Yes, still Franco time, indeed. And now I am seeing more run down places around Europe again – the economic crisis is definitely taking its toll. Sad, and worrying.

      On Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 11:45 AM, Travel with Intent wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

  5. What a great post Debbie!. I really must make the effort to drive up to Seville perhaps during the winter months. Graeme has been but I have only driven through on the last leg of our long drive each summer to reach our destination in the South.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Jen. I went by train from Malaga – nice easy journey. I would definitely say go in winter. There were huge queues for Cathedral and Alcazar and I assume they get even longer in summer! Are you heading on your long drive soon?

      On Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 8:14 AM, Travel with Intent wrote:



      1. Yes Debbie, well actually Mark (my middle son, just home from a year studying in Canada) and my husband are doing the drive there with the dogs. I’m staying behind for an extra couple of days while Michael my youngest finishes his A levels and then Im flying out. I do however have to do the drive home. We know to avoid France on certain days so we organise dates around that – hence the boys going a few days ahead of me. I think a wee trip in November to Seville by train will be on the cards 😉 By the way have you ever done the Camino del Rey – recently ‘refurbished’?

        Liked by 1 person

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