Winding narrow streets lined with flower covered balconies and yellow painted walls, tapas bars packed with people sipping carveza and eating small plates of fried fish, and a grand gothic cathedral which looms over the city – Seville is bound to seduce you with its authentic charm and passionate spirit.
As the capital of Andalusia, set on the plain of the river Guadalquivir, Seville is the fourth largest city in Spain, as well as one of the hottest metropolitan areas in Southern western Europe. A fact me and Jessamyn liked!
People asked, why Seville? Well, neither of us had the answer to this either, which I think is why we both loved the city so much. We had no expectations, no understanding of what was there or what it would be like. We simply booked one night and a few weeks later, we were off. That is the beauty of unplanned travel – you never know what is around the corner.
We arrived late morning after the extremely early start of 2:30am to go to the airport (thank you Jessamyn’s mum and dad). Once we had landed and made our way through passport security, we caught the airport shuttle into the city centre (€4, single fare). Opting for a cheaper and more social scene, we had booked into a hostel called The Black Swan in Seville’s historic centre. Excellent hostel actually and I would highly recommend to anyone off to Seville. It was clean, friendly, great location next to Plaza Nueva and had all facilities you would need (even a hairdryer! Which annoyingly I had packed also). We were not allowed to check into our dorms until 2pm so we left our bags there and got lost in the maze of the city.
Turning right out of our hostel, we found ourselves by the river and crossing the bridge over to the area of Triana. Lined with cobbled streets, bustling coffee bars and ceramic tiles, the area of Triana is said to be more real in comparison to the city. We stumbled across the Real Parroquia de Senõra Santa Ana, a historic 13th-century catholic church. Many people were coming and going from the church with handfuls of flowers and all in their Sunday best. Giving it no thought, we seated ourselves outside of the church entrance at a bar called Santa Ana, where we had our first sips of Spanish espressos. Whilst Jessamyn was ordering our coffees, a swarm of people turned round the corner holding huge silver crosses, incense, flowers and dressed in white gowns. My table and I were swallowed up by the crowd and by the time Jessamyn returned, it had been spit back out! I could not believe what I was witnessing. This was our first (and least extravagant) sighting of the iconic Holy festival in Seville and one we would then continue to be followed by.
Perfumed by incense and buzzed by strong coffee, we walked further down the river or otherwise known as the Calle Betis towards the Parque de Maria Luisa and the Plaza de España. We wandered down the avenues which were shaded by hundreds of exotic trees and orange groves, as horse and carriages rode past with excited tourists sitting inside. The gardens are beautiful and with the sun shining, the park felt even more magical as we smelt roses, admired the mosaic tiled benches and watched the birds bathe themselves in that ponds.
Half a mile long, the parks centre is the hugely magnificent, Plaza de España. Known by the locals as the ‘Venice of Seville’ as the opulent semi-circle building has a 500-metre canal perched in-front, where you can rent small row boats and admire the granduer of the building and its four bridges from the rose lined canal. Brightly coloured ceramics feature heavily in the square, from the lamp posts to the floors, with pops of yellow and blue. And, if that was enough to squeeze into this lavish square, they also have 22 brightly coloured, uniquely designed benches that represent the 22 provinces in Spain. So, not only does the plaza encapsulate the spirit and beauty of Seville but also the entirety of Spain. (Also, we were so lucky with the weather. How beautifully blue is the sky)
Be sure to also keep your eyes peeled and ears out for the floor stomp of a flamenco dancer here in the square.
With our bellies rumbling after not eating since Stanstead’s finest restaurant, Weatherspoons, several hours ago, our taste buds were itching for their first taste of a true Spanish tapas. Unsure where to go as veggies in a city of fish and meat, we took to the Happy Cow app (something we came to rely on) and sourced a great Lebanese/Spanish tapas called El Rincon de Beirut along Calle San Fernando. We had hummus, tabbouleh, pitta, and falafel. It was also a great people watching spot! Especially with their Semana Santa festival unraveling around the city, so many people were gathering to see the processions.
On the way back to the hostel to finally freshen up, we caught our first procession of the hooded brotherhoods and marching bands! An amazing but eerie spectacle to witness. It was incredible to see such huge city come together and we both said we could not imagine anything like this happening at home. Honestly, thousands of people descending to the streets of Seville until the early hours of the morning. We also noted how many people in Spain could play an instrument?! I only know Hot Cross Buns on the recorder and even that is a push. Still confused (me too)… I will do a whole blog post on Holy Week, don’t you worry.
Through the maze of Seville’s streets, we arrived back to the hostel, showered and changed into our more weather-appropriate clothing. But the night is young and our next stop is the Royal Alcázar of Seville…