Seville: Capital of Andalusia, Queen of my heart
May 8 – 12
If you’re not reading this, it’s probably because I decided to stay in Seville forever. If you ARE reading this, it means Dave dragged my kicking, screaming body to the train station to continue on our way. You’re reading this, aren’t you? Sigh.
Well, you get the picture. LOVED Seville – the land of tasty tapas, seductive dance, cheap wine, leisurely strolls and patterned leggings/pants…seriously, just rock print on your bottom half and you’ll fit right in. Florals and stripes preferred. You know what, I’m glad you’re reading this just for that incredibly helpful tip. You’re welcome. I even love its teeny tiny Spanish café amerianos, despite the fact that I’m guilt plagued every time I order a drink they named for a nation who insists on watering down their delicious espresso…BUT YES – I’M WEAK, WHAT DO YOU WANT FROM ME?! Also note: the debate between Seville/Sevilla continues, but our Sevillano host (shout out to Raul! are shout outs still a thing?) said either is fine…it’s “Seville” in English, but in Spanish, it’s “Sevilla.” But really? Who cares as long as they keep bringing the scenery like the below…
2,200 years old, the city really became super important to Spain upon the discovery of America, providing a safe port (from pirates, etc) for trade with us. And while I won’t USUALLY bore you with a history lesson, I found a few things really interesting. Due to the passage of various “ruling” civilizations, the influence of several different cultures is prevalent in the city’s architecture/customs. Founded as a Roman city, you’ll find remnants of the ancient walls and columns throughout the city. Then the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) ruled for 6 centuries, giving HUGE influence to the city – you can still see remaining traditions from that time. Finally came the (forced) conversion to Christianity during the Renaissance, so all the synagogues and mosques were converted into churches. The best visual example of this is the main cathedral….the base is built from Roman ruins, with main structure reflecting traditional Moorish style, and at the top, Catholic bell towers. Alright, class dismissed.
EXCEPTONEMORETHING, it was also interesting to hear how much the city had expanded in preparation for the 1929 Ibero-American expo (terrible timing, huh? Not so many Americans traveled over for that one). And yet, that is that which brought us THIS beauty…
Also proved an excellent reading location…
Again, we stayed with a host we found on airbnb.com, and again, it was PERFECT. Our 120-year-old home came complete with a balcony overlooking Plaza del Salvador, home to a 700-year-old church aaaaand – wait for it – the most popular outdoor bar for locals! We loved being in the heart of it all and were able to walk everywhere. The same “siesta” schedule (and warm weather) became our friend here, with lots of reading in parks and plazas with cold 40s of Cruzcampo to fill our time as the city shut down each afternoon.
If you couldn’t tell from my lengthy glimpse into the city’s history above, we took our first free walking tour (Yes! It’s true! You tip based on the value you felt the tour guide gave. Brilliant. Thanks Poncho Tours!), and as we embarked on our small afternoon tour, Dave starts insisting that this guy in the group is a kid he went to Big Moose with each year growing up (for those who don’t know, this is Dave’s family retreat spot in the Adirondacks with a 20+ year tradition. I’ve been twice, and it’s incredible). I think he’s crazy because we’re in Spain and no way is this the same guy (plus, he is SURE he sees people ALL THE TIME – Iowa’s head football coach? Saw him on Michigan Ave. Sportscaster for a small, local radio station? We saw him in Lincoln Park. You get my point…hard to prove these things…hmmmm?). Well low and behold, near the end of the tour, they work up the nerve to ask each other, and YES, Dan has been teaching English in nearby Malaga and happened to stumble upon a tour in Seville while a visitor was in town. The world is a crazy small place, and a brush with home (aside from, of course, the endless Beyonce H&M ads – nothing says home like Mrs. Carter in a bathing suit, really) was much appreciated!
And the flamenco! We tracked down a free show (La Carboneria on Calle Levíes – a hard to find alley – is recommended by locals for the most authentic experience) and witnessed the heart-wrenching and seductive tradition rumored to have its origins in this very city. Students, I lied, get your notebooks ready one more time…flamenco may have started in the Triana neighborhood across the river during the time that the gypsies, Moors and Jews were forced out of the city. The influence of these three cultures and music styles collided and now we have flamenco. There you go.
Overall, Seville was a slightly smaller, quieter version of Barcelona…and we couldn’t have been happier with our time there. Full of tapas, delicious wines and cheap beer, beautiful streets lined with storied histories and even a waterfront to walk along. Well played, Seville. Your turn, Granada.