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October 13th 2012
Published: January 2nd 2013
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So there I was… getting ready for my first solo holiday… and surprisingly I was more disorganised than ever!!! I always leave packing for the last moment but taking into account that my flight was leaving at 6.40am and I was only starting to pack at 10pm the night before, there wasn’t going to be much time for sleeping left in between! Also usually I would have found out a couple of things about the place before I left and at least have some kind of idea of what I would like to see and where to go… this time though, no research done before the trip whatsoever! I guess it was just the mixed feeling I had about the whole trip in general – on one hand really looking forward to it (first experience totally on my own and kind of a test before the big trip in 2013), but then on the other, really dreading it at the same time – travelling solo has its advantages obviously but I really do like sharing my experiences with someone, so I knew there could be moments where I might feel lonely and struggle with that a bit…

Eventually my alarm
wedding photo shoot!wedding photo shoot!wedding photo shoot!

at Plaza de Espana
rang at 3.30 and since I only managed to sleep 3 hours, to say I was looking like a zombie would be an understatement! 😉 Despite the dreadful hour I had to get up at (and the zombie-like appearance), I actually woke up in good spirits and was all ready for my holiday… all the worries were suddenly gone and it seemed as if I had a huge sign written all over my forehead saying: bring it on! Even managed to get a window seat despite being one of the last people boarding the plane, so everything was on the right track! I snoozed off before we even set off… And soon enough I was in Sevilla! It looked very welcoming from the very beginning – sunny and warm, just perfect! And had the chance to practice my español at the airport already as needed to find out how to get to the centre. It turned out that there was a bus running every 20 minutes or so to the main train station (very close to the old town) and it cost only €2.40 (way cheaper than the taxi for €24.99 that’s for sure). In the bus I got a
in love...in love...in love...

at Plaza de Espana
bit confused (Confusion would turn out to be my last name this week! 😉) It was packed with tourists, but somehow as it pulled at Santa Justa station nobody was moving out (hmmm… assuming these people must have been staying around the old town I started to wonder if maybe they knew about a better place to get out at? – was I a part of a social influence experiment? As this ‘power of the crowd’ was definitely messing with my head, haha), still with a bit of sense left in my mind and not chancing to get out at the other side of the city, I got off at my stop anyway. It turned out to be a pretty good idea after all as at least I checked the trains to Cadiz straight away (my next stop) and got a pretty good free map of Sevilla.

Shortly after I was in my guesthouse which was located in the middle of barrio Santa Cruz (actually when I was booking it I didn’t even know that it would be such a great location, right in the middle of the old town! Nice!). Got a tiny room, but really didn’t need anything bigger as wasn’t planning on spending much time there besides sleeping. So left my bags, grabbed my camera and was ready to explore the surroundings. Honestly every place I’ve been to in Spain is just impossible not to love (except maybe a certain beach in La Palma – but then it had a reputation of a 24/7 party place, so I should’ve known better before I put my foot there anyway…). The charming narrow streets, the architecture, the colours, restaurants, cafes and bars full of people enjoying themselves, even the way people dress here – so casual but edgy and elegant at the same time, honestly love everything about Spain, so wasn’t expecting to find anything different in Sevilla and the city certainly didn’t disappoint me!

I walked around the Santa Cruz district for a while until I reached the main square and the mighty cathedral appeared right in front of my eyes – it certainly is an impressive piece of architecture to look upon! I thought of visiting it straight away, but seeing the snake-like queue stretching for quite a few metres I decided to give it a miss for now and hoped that one of the other days I wouldn’t have to wait that long. Thought about visiting Alcázar but the same situation was happening there as well… Having realized that it was lunch time already and I didn’t even have a proper breakfast yet, it was high time to sit down somewhere and throw something on my stomach… So there I went in search for food! I came across a lovely square (Plaza Doña Elvira) – right in the middle there is a charming little fountain which is surrounded by tiled benches and orange trees. I ordered some tapas and a glass of sangría at one of the restaurants and while enjoying my meal I chatted to an older American couple that was sitting right beside me – they were doing an all-around Spain tour finishing in Morocco and funny enough the lady was of Irish descendants so we caught up on some Dublin news as well. 😉

After walking around the old district and coming upon the square with the cathedral again I decided to give Alcázar a go after all, as the queue seemed to be a bit smaller now. The Alcázar is a royal palace build in Moorish and Renaissance style and the upper levels are still being used by the royal family as their residence in Seville. I strolled around its chambers, courtyards and gardens for quite a while admiring the craftsmen work. A really stunning place!

Later on I headed to Plaza de España. Honestly I didn’t expect it to be so big! A massive fountain set right in the middle of the square which is surrounded by a canal with four beautifully tiled bridges (you can rent boats to row along the canal), and then the building itself with its semi-circular shape and a huge tower at each end, it surely is impressive! You can enjoy the full panorama of the plaza from two balconies on each side which can be reached by staircases. Along the wall by the canal you can find 48 alcoves with benches, representing each province of Spain, all designed on colourful ceramics (azulejos). Some may say the place is a bit over the top, but I absolutely loved everything about it and knew I would be back here again!

When I was walking back to the old town, I came by a manifestation. It seems that there were more protests around the country on that day against the budget cuts – all under a banner ‘No debemos, no pagamos’ (we shouldn’t pay, we won’t pay). Well I do know something about it as Ireland is in a similar situation – the debts of the banks are thrown directly onto the shoulders of the taxpayers… I guess it’s the case like this everywhere, people high up there are making mistakes and the 'little' men are paying for it in the end… still good to see that people all around are not giving up and are fighting for their rights!

On the way back to my guesthouse I treated myself to some coffee and decided to rest for a moment at the square in front of Alcázar. It turned out to be a good idea as I had a chance to listen to a ‘private’ concert – it seems that musicians found this place to be a good spot to earn a few coins by playing their music and trying to sell their records here. Just loved the sounds of the Spanish guitar! The acoustics in this place were pretty good as the music seemed to be floating all around. Sun shining, lovely sounds of music in the air, good coffee in hand… really don’t need much to be happy… On second thought I could add a couple of things to that, but let’s not be too greedy, shall we? 😉

I came back to my guesthouse pretty tired already and it was only 7pm! Shortly after, I could hear the sounds of music coming from the streets, and they were getting louder and louder as if some kind of orchestra was coming this way… well, there was no point sitting in my room and trying to figure out what was happening but to get out and actually see it! So, grabbed my camera and ran out following the sounds. There was a huge procession making its way towards the cathedral, priests with candles at the front, followed by a large statue of Jesus and an orchestra at the very end. Was trying to think of any religious holiday around that time in Poland, but couldn’t come up with anything, so not exactly sure what the ‘theme’ for this particular procession was? It did attract quite a number of people though, as it became pretty crowded at the cathedral, but there was definitely good atmosphere all around.

I realized I was pretty hungry again, so went back to Santa Cruz barrio in search of some nice place to eat, but on the way was stopped by a guy who was ‘inviting’ people (selling the tickets that is) to the flamenco show at Casa de la Guitarra that was just about to start there… first I thought I might try it another day cause my stomach was really begging for some food at this stage, but since the show was only an hour long, I thought: why not? And how glad I was that I made this decision as I really enjoyed the show – the venue was quite small, still the artists performed very well, and even some people in the audience participated with a few ‘Olé!’ here and there, definitely worth the money!

So with a big smile on my face I stopped by at one of the restaurants nearby, had some lovely tapas with a glass of sangria (again!) and called it a night shortly after – quite a good start to my holiday that day was, that’s for sure!

I woke up next day to the sound of bells from Giralda tower, looked outside through my tiny window and there it was again… a beautiful sunny day waiting for me to drag my butt out of bed and explore a bit more! 😊 I stopped for a breakfast at one of the cafés around the cathedral, a cup of good, strong coffee with churros to keep me going for a few hours – there’s nothing better than a deep fried dough in the morning, haha (also just love the coffee here but the cups are way too small! Two sips and the coffee is gone… that’s why I have to treat myself to some huge mug of starbucks once in a while😉).

I was planning to go to the cathedral, but again the queue just put me off, so instead headed straight to Plaza de España. I sat on one of the lovely tiled benches, took out my ipod and just sat there for a good while, listening to music, enjoying the sun (and hoping to get some tan, as was close to being transparent at this stage) and people-watching 😊 Had a chance to practice my Spanish again as an older guy joined me on my bench for a bit of a chat. I do use my poor Spanish all around here, but there’s quite a big difference between asking simple things in shops or restaurants and having a normal conversation with someone. So even though I could understand almost everything, speaking was something else! Still with some use of hands and a few English words here and there we had a nice talk after all. Quite a long way ahead of me before I’ll feel comfortable speaking Spanish though… ah well, one day!

Later on I strolled around Maria Louisa Park and then followed the river all the way to the bullring. I managed to get inside the bullring through the exit, yep! that’s me! somehow missed the huge sign sending all the people the opposite way! Well, had to go back to the front anyway, as one tour was just leaving and they were gently pushing everyone out… So eventually got the ticket and joined the tour. It’s one of the more famous arenas in Spain and it’s still very active – it turned out that the
artist at workartist at workartist at work

...and his cute helper ;)
last ‘show’ of the season was only 2 days before – well, can’t really say that it was a huge disappointment as not sure if I would like to see someone butchering a bull right in front of my eyes – sorry to say that as I know it’s a tradition and all, still not exactly my kind of thing I guess… Apparently 13,000 people can squeeze in at the arena, quite a crowd I’d say! It was quite interesting walking through the arena and the museum though – a nice collection of paintings and costumes of famous toreros – including Romero (great Sevillan torero – apparently each time he was performing there, the arena was full of people and everyone was holding a twig of rosemary in hand – as romero means rosemary in Spanish, quite a nice gesture I’d say!).

Later on I paid a visit to Triana district. Walked around the narrow streets, it did seem pretty deserted though, until I got back to the river that is, as all the restaurants/bars along the river were full of people (and definitely more locals than tourists) having beers and enjoying the late afternoon. I was ready to call it a day after that as all the sun and walking the whole day (well two whole days actually) took all my energy, so after having paella for dinner I headed to my guesthouse for a well deserved rest.

Next day I decided it was high time to fit in the cathedral and Giralda into my super-busy schedule 😉 But again seeing the queue almost reaching the square, thought no way! So headed to Casa de Pilatos first – amazing that the Duke and his family are still living there – quite a house that is! Again everything beautifully tiled, I say a lot of work and what’s even more patience! was needed to create this place. Can’t imagine fitting all these tiny tiles… hours, and hours, and hours of work… Final work amazing though!

Walked back to the cathedral afterwards – since I was going to Cadiz the next day and the weather was meant to change to 'Irish' once I was back in Sevilla on Thursday, so that was actually the last chance to see sunny Sevilla up from Giralda… What a surprise it was to see only a few people queuing at this time! Thought that maybe they are closing soon or something, but that wasn’t the case, so finally got into the cathedral… well, the size of it is definitely impressive! I walked around admiring the numerous altars, sculptures and paintings, stopped by the Columbus’ tomb for a while, visited the treasury and it was time to head to Giralda (cathedral tower – 91m high) to glimpse upon Sevilla from high above… I felt a bit like I was a part of the race up the tower as people were rushing to get to the top, but then some overestimated the little climb a bit and had to stop on the way, so whoever I was racing with, I think I might have won actually! 😉 I can’t really say that it was the best view I’ve ever seen as any city looks more or less the same from high above – mostly rooftops and a few landmarks here and there but still spent a bit of time there, watching people mostly I have to say – everyone running around waiting (some not waiting but just pushing through) to get their chance to get a bit closer to the view and snap a few pictures…

Had an early bite to eat – quite tasteless piece of fish with a bit of salad on the side, very disappointing! and later on headed to the Museum of Flamenco to find out a bit about the dance and to see the show afterwards. I especially enjoyed the audiovisual part where they showed different styles (palos) of flamenco dancing. What an amazing dance flamenco is – so much charisma and passion! It was quite interesting to find out that even though flamenco was born in Andalusia it actually ‘borrowed’ a few techniques from other cultures – like the hand movement from India or the sexy hip movement from the Caribbean…

And then it was time for a show, I actually got a sit in the front row, so was hoping that at least some of the photos would turn out ok… first a guy (a manager possibly?) came on stage to say a few words about the spectacle that we were about to watch – first introduction in Spanish, then the same one in English, then in German and the moment he said ‘Mesdames and Monsieurs...’ he got quite an ovation and a few laughs here and there as well! I guess everybody was wondering how many languages would follow after that... but then he finished saying that unfortunately he doesn’t speak any French... So even the introduction was very entertaining, already a good start! And then the show begun… This time, apart from the guitar player and the singer, there were two dancers, a man and a woman. As much as I loved the show at Casa de la Guitarra, this one was just amazing! Not only the artists were incredible, but they seemed to have enjoyed themselves a lot while performing as well! And just loved the costumes of the dancers! As good of a dancer as the guy was, the woman totally stole the show though – the faces she was making, smiles she was giving, the charisma, the passion, the energy she was putting in the dance, it was really incredible to watch! And just like I said the guy was a great dancer as well, but somehow couldn’t fully concentrate on his performance – I guess his arrogance, weird faces but mostly his tight pants (what was up with him flexing his butt chicks all the time???) could have something to do with that, haha 😉 Really loved the show!!! Well, it was a perfect finish to a lovely three days spent in Sevilla that's for sure! And I was more than ready to move on to my next destination now!

Additional photos below
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10th January 2013

Magic trip , brilliant pics

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