Sevilla: My First Spanish Love

In the wise words of James Michener, “Sevilla doesn’t have ambiance, it is ambiance.” And how right he is.

After a trip to Barcelona while I returned to class in Cáceres, my parents and I met up in Madrid to take the AVE train down to Sevilla for the final weekend of their whirlwind trip around Spain. The weekend included lots of photo ops, a bit of bird poop, flamenco dancing (not by us), and revisiting all of my old favorite places from my trip to Sevilla four years ago. A special thanks to my parents who put up with my choking sentimentality about being back!

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One of the best parts about Sevilla, especially in the summer is the sun doesn’t go down until late. Therefore, we were still able to meander through the city despite getting there in the late afternoon. We didn’t exactly have a plan on how we were going to spend our weekends, so I found a few things on the map to check out and we were able to enjoy a laid back, low key weekend.

The first stop, found by memory on my part despite it being four years since I had walked the route, was where we went to school when I was here. During the two weeks of class we had here, my roommate, Miko, and I managed to arrive late just about every day. This resulting in a B- for our punctuality grade (still not sure why that was a grade).When we visited, I had hoped we would be able to get in to see the courtyard, but it was closed for the weekend so standing outside the door would have to do.

First day of school with the Barrington girls in 2010 and visiting again in 2014.
First day of school with the Barrington girls in 2010 and visiting again in 2014.

The true beauty of Sevilla comes out when you navigate through the tiny winding orange-tree lined streets and emerge into the adjoining plazas around the enormous cathedral.

Photo credit to my mom
Photo credit to my mom

Finished in 1521, the third largest cathedral in Europe (after St. Peter’s at the Vatican and St. Paul’s in London) certainly demands attention situated in the center of the old city. Walking through it means bringing some pain reliever. My neck was arched so far back to see the detail on the ceilings that I got a cramp! The majesty and grandness of it definitely leaves one in awe. Not to mention, they claim that they have Christopher Columbus’s remains held in there. There is doubt, definitely, and Cuba also says they have the remains…But hey, in the case that they are in Sevilla–we have seen Christopher Columbus’s tomb!

Our favorite picture in the cathedral--another photo credit to my mom!
Our favorite picture in the cathedral–another photo credit to my mom!

A sporadic addition to our agenda was an hour long carriage ride around the city.

Third wheel photo
Third wheel photo

The carriage tour took us around the major sites in the city with commentary (in Spanish) by our wonderful driver, Juan Miguel. A lot of the sites we saw were built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929 in and around Maria Louisa park, which brought all of the Latin-American countries to Spain to celebrate and show off the diversity in the cultures. My favorite part about the tour was the Plaza de España where the birds were…

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I am an old pro. 2010 and 2014.
I am an old pro. 2010 and 2014. While I look scared, it was a great time.

One of the nights that we were there, I brought my parents to my absolute favorite ice cream place. When I was there in 2010, my group and I split up our time between Las Rayas and Yorgurtlandia for our nightly adventures. Four years later, they still have my favorite ice cream flavor, Beso de la Dama/Kiss of the Lady.

sevilla collage 3

 

Other unphotographed Sevilla weekend highlights included:

Barrio Santa Cruz: the Jewish Quarter where we walked around to find local artisan stands and several tourist shops. We stumbled upon a few cafes and some great tapas bars too! I was looking for local pieces of art to take a place of my first Spanish home with me, and I was able to find a lovely painting for my future apartment!

Flamenco Tablao: Dinner and a Flamenco show in the old city. For anyone who really wants to experience the true ambiance of Sevilla, I recommend a flamenco show. Often in bars that you can walk into, grab a drink and watch the shows, we chose to find a tablao which offers dinner as well as the show. What I would not recommend is sitting right next to the stage. It is an extremely intense dance, leaving the dancers quite sweaty. Then, they sharply turn their heads and suddenly you wish you had an umbrella from the sweat that flew from the ends of their hair, nose, chin, anything. We luckily didn’t have that problem, sitting a little farther back, but I noticed the women in front often wiping their faces with their napkins in disgust…

Real Alcazar: Sevilla’s royal palace, originally a Moorish palace, then remodeled in the 14-15th centuries to look like La Alhambra. It is truly a beauty and a is quick tour to a peek in the past of the old life in Sevilla.

We topped off our weekend with an Andalucían kebab. Pretty much a Spanish gyro–but with a Moorish influence–and they taste the best in the south of Spain.

But, as they always do, our weekend came to an end as they had to fly back home and I had to head back to class for a few days before heading off for the week for our spring break trip–to be written about soon!

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