Travel

Seville diaries

My Golden Triangle link continued with my travels to Seville this year. So far, Rome has been my favourite city but I knew that Seville would top it. After everything I had read online, I knew I wouldn’t be going wrong choosing this destination. Seville had been on my bucket list for a long time. The romance, flamenco, food and history had been calling out to me for the past two years. I had this trip locked at the very start of 2016 when I booked flights with EasyJet. Nothing was going to stop me.

If you know me well, you will know that I do painstaking research to develop my itinerary. I scour the internet for hidden gems and the best restaurants. I just can’t abandon an itinerary, a plan of some sort. Organisation is key to my trips and I want to get as much out of my travels as possible. If that means ticking off the top three attractions and eating at one of the top 10 restaurants, I will make sure this happens. Being able to appreciate even a little bit of another culture is the aim. Otherwise what’s the point of travelling if you go to eat pasta in Spain when you can have iberian pork? You get me?

This trip was taken in May and a few days before leaving, I was a little miserable. The weather had been horrendous for a week or so. Seville had been hit with heavy rain which I wasn’t expecting for May. I was beginning to think I would be stuck indoors. The forecast didn’t look too great either. I don’t think I had accessed my weather app on my phone so frequently as I had before travelling to Seville. So I prepared myself with umbrellas and my trench coat. I went for the classic three night stay which is perfect if you ask me. Hotel Pasarela was my choice of accommodation and it wasn’t bad. I should have chosen to stay in the centre in hindsight, but I was next to the Plaza de España Square so advantage there.

I reached the hotel around 5pm. It’s quite easy and quick to get to the city centre (20 mins). Seville is also a very compact city so you will find that all attractions are within easy reach of each other. The best way to get around is on foot. Trams are available but there’s nothing like strolling around and spotting something yourself. The first attraction on my itinerary was the Plaza de España Square which was a 5 minute walk from my hotel and free. So easy. Thankfully, there was no rain but it was a little dreary. Nothing to dampen my spirit (as you may have realised by now, good weather is important to me). The moment I started walking towards the square, I knew this was going to be a cracking break! The architecture and colours in the square are a dream!

 

After exploring the square, I returned to my hotel to get ready for dinner. I had chosen La Bulla which is listed on the maps that hotels give out as you set off on foot. I arrived at a good time as the restaurant was about to get busy. When it came to ordering the food, I berated myself for my obvious lack of basic Spanish. I had tried to learn some phrases but it’s a bit hard when it comes to applying it 😕 Nevertheless, I managed to get food on the table and went for salmon with wok vegetables. I think the food at La Bulla is decent, not mind blowing but still  worth a visit.


The following morning after eating breakfast like a king, I proceeded to the centre for one of Europe’s top attractions – the Alcazar of Seville 😍 This place I tell you, I had been dying to see! Whenever I’ve discussed visiting Seville, I’ve been told the Alcazar of Seville is a magical place like no other that engages all your senses. Mayn I was looking forward to it! Walking on foot in cool but sunny conditions, I saw a Seville which was oh so pretty!

The Alcazar of Seville is a royal palace that was developed by Moorish Muslim kings and is a fine example of mudejar architecture. I would say you need about two hours to see everything. I highly recommend booking tickets online before hand which will save you time. You should also aim to book a 9:30 slot before the palace gets filled with tourists. I was so fortunate to have top weather conditions and few tourists around me. Seville can get quite hot and in sweltering temperatures, one can get a bit tired and irritated. As they say, the early bird catches the worm. Apply this and you shall thank me later.


Luckily, I had searched every nook and cranny in an hour and a half before the rain hit Seville again. I had to queue up next door to get into the Cathedral of Seville with a brolly over my head. It helps being a Brit sometimes – you know, immune to the rain? Anyway, the queues were very long here as well and I had to wait for almost 30 minutes. Time goes by quickly though my friends and you are looking to get into the largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the world. Says it all really. I love the history behind the cathedral. I actually love the history behind Seville overall. No wonder these are all UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites. What fascinates me is how the Giralda (the bell tower of the cathedral) used to be a minaret of the mosque that stood on the site under Muslim rule. Then of course once Christians began to rule the church was reconstructed. The other cool thing to find in the cathedral is the tomb of Christopher Columbus. How can one building have so much history attached to it?!


To get to the belfry of the Giralda, there is a passage in the northeastern corner of the cathedral. You will have to climb about 34 ramps so if your legs still have it, go for the climb! You will be blessed with views such as the ones below. Worth every calorie burned and every sweat broken I say! Entry to the cathedral and Giralda are 8 euros per person.

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By the time I exited the cathedral, it was never-ending rain in Seville. Tourists looked for shelter and food and I wound up in a nearby restaurant for a cuppa and sandwiches. Quick and needed as I had been zapped of energy! I returned back to my hotel and relaxed after a busy morning and afternoon. It was only around dinner time that I decided to finally step out to go to the 6th best ranked restaurant in Seville called La Bartola. Ladies and gentlemen, this was hands down the best meal I had in Seville. Magnifico! I went for iberian pork fillet with apple sauce and lemon preserve. I would definitely recommend this restaurant if you happen to be in Seville. Stupendous meal!img_4058

After dinner, I strolled around the alleyways in the city centre making sure I didn’t get lost before returning to my hotel for a good night’s sleep. Day 2 – holiday heaven! I spent my third and final day just walking around Seville to try to catch the remaining attractions before I headed back to London. Ambitiously, I decided to head straight for the Metropol Parasol, the mushroom like wooden structure that looks quite strange in Seville. It’s an unusual structure  but one that makes for a nice change in terms of having something ‘modern.’ I also decided to take a bit of a risk and continue walking further out towards the edge of Seville to see the Basilica de la Macarena. The church is famous for housing the Virgin of Hope, a revered jewel-encrusted wooden structure. I’m actually glad I walked on because I got to see the real Seville. There is so much beauty and history in the alleyways. Every turn astounded me. I arrived just as the congregation were lining up for Holy Communion. Perfect timing eh? I stepped in line, the memory created forever. Some things are just destined to happen.

On my way back near the Metropol Parasol, I stopped by for a quick tea. It’s quite funny this story. I ended up having the best chai EVER in Seville out of all the places. I don’t know what brand this cafe had (and I regret not asking) but it made all my fatigue from the walking disappear. I was rejuvenated. All you need is tea. If it happens to be one of the best teas you’ve ever tasted, wellll you gotta be thanking your lucky stars. Delightful stop by! Refreshed once again, I decided to get up close to the Torre del Oro and Plaza de toros de la Real Maestranza (bullring). Both buildings are near each other so it’s pretty easy to wander down that side of Seville, close to the River Gualquivir.

I didn’t have time to see a few other attractions I had on my list but this wasn’t a blot on my trip. In fact, it’s given me an excuse to return again to Seville. It’s trumped the handful of cities I’ve been to thus far. The beauty, food, culture and people makes Seville my favourite city. The scent of orange lingers in the streets and the various tapas bars bring Seville to life at night. Talking of a tapas bar, my final night was spent at a local tapas bar near my hotel where there weren’t many tourists. Actually, it was a good call because I ended up seeing Sevillans enjoying a Friday night eating and drinking with friends. I was so enamoured by Seville by then that I had decided I was going to return one day! If there’s one city you should visit soon, I would urge you to make it Seville. Underrated gem of Europe!

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