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inChoir in Spain!

inChoir in Spain - Tim Grant, Dorking 

Due to the Tim's account being wonderfully detailed (and well worth reading), this will be split over three posts, in a mini series on Spain.

Part 1...

This blog takes the form of random observations and events that took place over the course of our four days in Spain. Jane and I and several others arrive at the hotel the day before the main choir and enjoy glorious Seville sunshine. Our hotel is the four-star Melia Sevilla, which overlooks the back of the Plaza Espana. At sunset, waiting for the lift on the sixth floor we discover that as the sun sinks slowly behind The Plaza, a recording of ‘The Last Post’ is broadcast over the city. 

On our very first evening the choir is scheduled to have a meal at the Taberna del Alabardero, home of the Escuela Superior de Hosteleria de Sevilla. Based on my own experiences I have an image of a local authority school building where well-meaning young students serve up school dinners on Formica-topped tables.  This turns out to be a totally different experience. The coach drops us off nearby and we walk up a narrow street to an imposing 19th century building.  Once inside we glimpse a huge hallway and staircase before being ushered into grand rooms sumptuously decorated with pictures, mirrors, long draped curtains and thick carpets.

The service and the food are both superb; the youthful staff attentive and cheerful and with plenty of wine flowing, we set about getting to know people we had never met before. We also get to know people better whom we’d only met at the weekly choir.  There are only four of us from Dorking and sometimes we feel outnumbered by the groups from East Grinstead, Tunbridge Wells and elsewhere.  The great thing about inChoir holidays is that we do all seem to get on very well. Good food and wine always helps the process. As we later weave our way home through the back streets of Seville on foot, we feel that a good start had been made.

The next day sees us embarking on an excellent guided tour around the Plaza Espana, the Cathedral and the Alcazar. The sun shines and the mercury climbs to around 20C as it did all week; our guide is informative and approachable, but the high point for the blog is the next group meal: a five-course tapas in a very busy restaurant. This is not quite like the night before. My wife Jane and I are on a table with Mark and Sue and Sally - and many other people. Sally will feature prominently in this blog because she is the lynch-pin of inChoir holidays: chief organizer and fount of all knowledge, who patiently answers all our questions. Getting forty-five inChoir persons to move around on time on a foreign tour is rather like herding cats (as Jane would say) and she manages it admirably.

At this meal the food is…. interesting and we play the game of ‘guess the dish’. Is it pork or is it fish? Cold fried quails’ eggs provokes the comment ‘Well it stands to reason, in a hot country you don’t want to be having hot food,’ but it doesn’t quite work for me. The courses just keep on coming and at the end of the meal our waitress appears, waving a bill for 736 euros. She doesn’t speak a word of English, but just keeps repeating something more and more and more loudly with that endearing machine-gun delivery that Spanish people seem to have. 

Despite waving the 736 euro bill we hope that she is just going on about the drinks. The problem is there are 45 of us and we’ve all had something different. The situation is getting more surreal by the second. Sally slower lowers her head until I swear that she is banging it against the rough wood of the table.  After a few tense moments she seems to recover. She slowly lifts her head: she has a solution. Everyone will put three euros in the pot and that should cover it. Sorted!

At breakfast the following morning, another enigmatic Sally quote. I noted this one on my phone following a discussion in the bar the night before where I’d rashly volunteered to write this blog: ‘You thought that InChoir holidays were all about singing but really they are all about self-esteem!’ 

More to follow...!