Lovely Sevilla

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November 12th 2007
Published: November 16th 2007
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Seville is the capital of Andalucía, and the center of bullfighting and flamenco...none of the former and lots of the latter for us thanks!

We arrived at Seville’s San Pablo Airport late at night and the intense haze of cigarette smoke just outside the airport doors befuddled us into catching the wrong bus into town. It wasn’t a major disaster, and it was really a little lucky as we wouldn’t have otherwise caught a taxi and experienced a ride with a craaazy-wanna-be stunt driver. The hotel was only three blocks away as the crow flies but apparently 10 minutes via all the very small crazy one-way lanes. The driver did every possible thing he could to scare the life out of the travellers on their first night in Seville...and just when I thought he was going to flip the car onto two wheels and yee-haa, he screeched to a halt in front of our hotel. And just like that our slightly scary fun was over. 😊

Our hotel - Hotel Puerta de Sevilla, was a cute little place in the middle of Barrio de Santa Cruz (the old quarter) and we were very close to all the attractions, but more importantly we had a myriad of squares and winding old streets to get lost in. The architecture in Seville is heavily Moorish and everything is very decorative and grand - each building was more eye-catching than the last. By far, our favourite architecture/building/space is the Plaza de Espana which is just splendid beyond words. We also spent many hours in Parque de Maria Luisa (next door to Plaza de Espana). It was fantastic to escape the afternoon heat in this very sheltered and cool park with it’s labyrinth of paths, fountains, garden beds and massive old world trees.

We didn’t go to many of the tourist attractions, but instead spent most of our time walking around and trying to get a feel for the local aspects of Seville. We spent hours by the river watching a bizarre game that was a cross between squash and tennis; and then sat in the local park watching neighbours gossiping in little huddles while their dogs frolicked together. Seville is very dog friendly and there are many many woofers of all shapes and sizes all over the place, even in restaurants!

Even though Seville is a large city, it’s got a beautiful laid back feeling to it. Carmen (as in the opera) was a factory worker in the old and beautiful tobacco factory that is now part of the gorgeous university complex. I was very tempted to stay in Seville for a month or so and undertake an intensive Spanish course at the university... Andrew could have spent time playing flamenco guitar...

We hunted far and wide for an authentic flamenco performance and decided on Casa de la Memoria de Al-Andalus. It was in a gorgeous patio of an old house, simply furnished with a central stage and three rows of chairs in a semi circle around the stage. There was a reverence for the art form here that showed in the complete focus on the performance with no food, drinks or souvenirs being flogged, no smoking and no photos allowed during the performance. You can pre-purchase tickets from the venue during the day as it frequently sells out. To say it was an experience would be an understatement - the male singer was brilliant but a little greasy and sleazy; the young guitarist was absolutely fantastic but a little bored; the female dancer was pretty but an average dancer; however the male dancer was the best dancer I have ever seen and easily the highlight of the show. Once we got over how very high and very tight his trousers were (we were sitting a mere metre away from him), we were totally hooked on whatever he was selling. After an hour of watching him tap, stamp, stomp, twirl, be bull-like, be matador-like, and be lover-like, we were totally exhausted! 😄

There are dozens of good restaurants and cafes around the Barrio de Santa Cruz, and this gave us severe option anxiety at meal times. However by way of a recommendation from the hotel manager as his favourite cafe, we found ‘our’ cafe on the first morning there. Before going exploring, we started the morning with a few glorious cafe con leches (same same as a cafe latte or cafe au lait, i.e. 1:1 strong shot of espresso and scalded milk) and fresh tostadas (a toasted oblong bread roll served with butter and jam/marmalade, or garlic and olive oil if you were so inclined). As expected the tapas is magnificent and the vino to die for in most places here, and Andrew and I have dutifully adopted the local custom of eating and drinking until you can eat and drink no more, before having a glorious siesta...then you wake up and do it all over again...

We could easily live here. 😊

Highlights: Starting the day with a cafe con leche and tostada; Flamenco performance.
Lowlights: Cigarette smoke in cafes; People who didn’t pick up after their dogs.

Next stop: Ronda


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