Thanks to the awful phenomenon that is climate change, the weather in Seville was nearly 40 degrees. In usual weather, I think either Seville or Granada is the hottest in Europe anyway, but even lizard me thought it was too hot to bask in the sun.
Thank goodness our apartment was cool as a cucumber. It was an architect’s pad so it wasn’t particularly practical, but it made up for it in style. Even though the bathroom smelled a bit, but let’s blame the hot weather for that.
However, the heat didn’t stop us from getting out ASAP. We took a segway tour around, as has now become our ‘thing’. Both the guides were two very cute young men – yes I am that shallow – and my mum was trying to set me up with one of them. Incidentally, one of them had spent a month in my hometown, Bournemouth, as a foreign exchange student. He was probably too familiar with the locals than I would have liked – there goes that mysterious English girl vibe. Not that I am in any way mysterious, alluring or sexy, but it would have been nice to pretend that I was for an hour or so. Single life, eh?
We started by whizzing round Seville’s famous cathedral, and admiring the architecture, but because it was a Monday it was closed. Onwards we whirred to the old tobacco factory, which is now the university’s main building. I suppose these things come full circle as many students are avid smokers…
It’s certainly very imposing. But I am still averse to paying to go in. Some things never change.
Strangely, of all things I think the city park was my favourite part of the whole tour. Seville hosted the World Expo in 1911, so that whole area has adorable country pavilions that have been put to good use as admin buildings etc. Some, like the Spanish pavilion, have become tourist attractions in their own right – it was massive and extremely beautiful. It’s quite like Lisbon in a way – they’ve successfully reused their Expo grounds in a way other places simply leave to rot.
Zooming around this at the high speeds of 12mph was such fun.
The park was filled with beautiful flowers, which I stopped to sniff on the way back, before we zipped back to the segway tour place.
Now, our guides and pretty much everyone in Seville had warned us that the queue for the Alcazar Real was going to be long. It was, but there were guides willing to pluck you out of it and take you on a guided trip if you paid extra dosh. We went for this as nobody wants to waste time queuing in the midday sun.
It was a stunning castle, arguably more beautiful than the Alhambra itself (according to one of my old lecturers), and it’s well worth the trip. There were actually three palaces – the old fortifications, the ‘Christian’ palace, and the Moorish palace built by the Umayyad caliphate. Well, basic AF Christian palaces are one thing – we’ve got those at home. But Islamic architecture is so stunning and symmetrical, I have to say it trumped everything else in the castle grounds.
Owing to the sheer amount of tourists cramming the outer walls, I had to make do with this irritatingly off-centre image of the main Islamic garden. Grrrr, tourists.
As the European traveller would expect, the Christian palace was filled with artworks and renaissance decor, but there was nothing to differentiate from the most other palaces around. The gardens, however, were something else. Converting the old defence walls into an image of serenity, fountains filled with fish and flowers in full bloom graced the symmetrical pathways and promenades.
So beauty, very romance, wow
My parents then decided they simply couldn’t miss out on the Cathedral, but it still fits with my ‘I don’t pay to go into religious buildings’ theory, because they were the ones that paid. I must say it’s one of the grandest cathedrals I have ever seen, but then what does one expect from Columbus’ burial place? He’s definitely an evil white colonialist, but clearly he was ballin’ and well-thought of in Spain.
Four Spanish kings carry his coffin, but only in bad lighting because churches are never that Insta-friendly.
Perusing Seville’s maze of shopping streets, we visited the strange modern pavilion known as the Parasol, from which you can get excellent panoramic views of the city, and a mediocre glass of free booze known as a ‘red wine cooler’. It was okay but we met some other Brits who started talking about Margaret Thatcher… and totally ruined the mood.
Our final night in the beautiful Andalusian city was spent at a ‘traditional’ flamenco show at Casa de la Guitarra. A slightly older version of the gorgeous Alvaro Soler came on and started playing, and all seemed pleasant, if a little boring. Then an old man came on and shouted very loudly, which apparently passes for the traditional sounds of that region’s music.
The long anticipated flamenco dancer made her entrance on the stage, and boy did she have a powerful stomp. The combination of shouting and stomping was certainly new to me, and an experience indeed, but I don’t think it’s the thing for uncultured Brits like me…
Super fancy tap dancing.
Some American tourists behind us could barely hold back the laughter, when the old man’s shouting became too much. I know we really shouldn’t. Oddly, I ended up taking a flamenco class about three weeks later, and doing the stomping around myself. The song was about having bread in Seville, which is funny really because we tried to get a table in a pizza restaurant and they simply said ‘no’…
Despite getting a headache from the show, I liked Seville. We went for tapas for a post-show debrief, and I got to try patatas bravas for the first time. Though they’d clearly used McCain frozen roasties or something, they were still delicious, and I thoroughly intend to do exactly the same damn thing myself at home. Haute cuisine indeed.
Getting lost in Seville’s old streets on the way home, we turned in, and prepared for another long drive the next day – this time for the weird and jingoistic British territory that is Gibraltar.
Should I work for that blog that solely takes photos of old doors? Maybe don’t give up the day job, eh.