Seville is the 4th biggest city in Spain after Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia, and is the artistic, cultural and financial capital of the South. January and February are the coolest months of the year, with minimum average temperatures of 5.2°C (41°F), but compared to the bitter cold and snow Britain has recently been experiencing, it felt like summer! One of my close friends who studies Spanish at Manchester University has been living there as part of the course for her third year and I certainly wasn’t going to pass on the chance to visit!
Cheap Ryanair tickets…check…€uros…check…Sunglasses…check…Too many clothes that I clearly won’t wear over 4 days…Double check!
After a series of rather embarrassing and stressful events which included running to departures as ‘Final Call’ was flashing on the screens, me on the floor at the Departure Gate having to stuff all my duty free and Prêt a Manger sandwiches into a teeny tiny case, (only to be made to open it again at the front of the plane by the air steward, who informed me there was no space in the overhead lockers and it would have to be put in the hold), followed by a two and a half hour Ryanair plane journey where I was squashed next to the two most unsociable people on the plane, then my friend nearly being arrested for screaming as I came through the arrivals gate on the other side…I was finally in Seville! Note to self, when travelling Ryanair again, don’t try and save money by not checking in a bag, as you will end up with squashed sandwiches and angry airport staff.
We landed in Seville at 21:45 Spanish time, and jumped straight on a €2 bus to my friend’s apartment situated on the Avenida de la Republica Argentina in the Los Remedios neighbourhood. Nightlife in Seville, like in all other parts of Spain is very intense and Sevillanos do not usually go out until about 1 am. This gave me plenty of time to get changed and recover from my Ryanair nightmare. After a few glasses of the Spanish cocktail, ‘Tinto de Verano,’ which is a mix of red wine and lemonade and very similar to Sangria, I was ready to experience what all the fuss was about.
First stop was the Plaza de Alfalfa, a street lined with bars and restaurants where crowds of people were drinking outside, and to my surprise, smoking inside. Of course…there is no smoking ban in Spain, much to my annoyance and my friend’s delight! We entered Blues Bar where I learnt the crucial phrase.. “Mi gusteria un vodka.” Beware of the Spanish measurements where a single shot is a generally a double, and a double gets you drunk quicker than you can say ‘Tapas’. Plaza de Alfalfa is also home to bars such as La Rebotica, El Mundo, and the Cabo Loco bar, which boasts the strongest Mojitos in town. Second stop was Alameda de Hercules, which houses the famous FunClub, a regular and favourite venue for young people such as my friend and her language-studying companions. Fun Club is widely considered the best venue in town for live rock, heavy metal and indie music concerts, and stays open till 8am! Drinks are reasonably cheap and hailing a taxi outside to go home proved to be simple and easy, definitely an advantage if you’re tired and had only stepped off the plane a few hours previously.
In the light of day and crossing the bridge over the river Guadalquivir, the 2nd longest river in Spain, the sophisticated culture, interesting history and breathtaking architecture seemed a far cry away from the events of the previous night. We spent the day exploring Seville’s landmarks, whilst feeling happy that I could go out in a t-shirt and not feel cold! The Cathedral of Seville is the 3rd largest Church in the world, built with striking gothic designs, intricately detailed columns and serves as the burial site for Christopher Columbus. It is also the site for the city’s most famous symbol, the bell tower Giralda. Other places of interest we passed and visited included, the University of Seville –which was once a huge tobacco factory, the Alcázar gardens, and the Torre de Oro –a thirteenth century watchtower which now houses the local maritime museum. After being cultural for hours, a spot of shopping was definitely needed. Shops re-open following the afternoon siesta and the Calle de las Sierpes district is the place to go for both tourist and traditional treats. During the day, I noticed Seville was inundated with both orange trees and horse drawn carriages. I wouldn’t recommend eating the oranges, as they are bitter and mostly used for making marmalade. I would only recommend the horse drawn carriage trip if money isn’t an issue as they charge €50, and don’t change their price as it is set by the town hall.
There are two basic types of dining out in Seville: going for tapas (small portions generally between €1.50-4) or heading to a restaurant for a more traditional meal. Late night dining is normal and we headed to Levies tapas bar around midnight on our 2nd night. The paella was definitely my favourite dish, nicely washed down with some more Spanish wine cocktail. Lunch the next day was served at 100 montaditos where you can choose from 100 toppings for your montaditos, which are little sandwich buns/baguettes. Most of the toppings are tapas dishes, and they all come with free crisps and olives. Yummy. After another day of Sevillian culture, we headed to La Taberna Coloniales for late dinner. This tapas restaurant proved to be very popular due to its huge portions and cheap prices, and we had to put our names on a chalkboard in order to wait for a table. Later we experienced traditional Spanish Flamenco dancing at the most famous bar in Seville, La Carbonerĩa. Definitely one of the highlights of my trip.
My final day was short but sweet and consisted of buying fans and t-shirts with the ‘I <3 Seville’ emblem, and having my last Tapas at Bar Europa. This was the most expensive place we had eaten but was definitely worth the money, with Tapas dishes such as peppered steak and battered prawns. Exquisite.
3 Tapas bars, 3 plates of paella, amazing architecture, hundreds of decorative orange trees later and a lot of spanish wine cocktail, my slice of Seville was sadly over. It’s amazing how much you can squeeze into just 3 nights and 4 days, and I would totally recommend this cultural city break to anyone.