Sevilla, Spain. It’s a beautiful city in its own way.
It’s a massive maze of narrow streets, all of which are made up of stone bricks. On either side of the streets are old buildings, each of which meld into each other and hold many homes. Some have interior courtyards not seen from the street. It lacks much greenery, but is filled with large and small plazas: playgrounds for adults and children to relax, eat, play, and interact.
There’s something romantic about Sevilla and you can’t help but fall in love, at least in some way. It calls to that feeling inside you of a simple life.
While visiting Sevilla, I had many experiences, some good and bad. Unfortunately, it rained half the time I was there — apparently something that rarely happens (of course).
I visited many beautiful places. Alcazar de Jardin had to be my favorite; it’s an old palace with lovely grounds and intricate architecture. The Cathedral de Sevilla was breathtaking and is far older than most of the city. Plaza de Espana was another favorite, a place I could see myself sunning near the water fountain on a hot day in the summer.
I don’t want to generalize Spanish food based off what I had in Sevilla but I will say that what I ate was very heavy on pork. They have huge ham legs hanging in every restaurant which they slice very thinly. It’s super salty and usually goes on bread. They mix this with aged goat cheese and it’s sold everywhere.
They also LOVE sweet things. Everything is about chocolate or sugar! God forbid I find a breakfast that doesn’t include sugar. LOL. I had churros with a thick hot chocolate one morning and an apple empanada thing another day. I am also addicted to these chocolate doughnut things, bunuelos. Their coffee is very strong and served in small glasses. I believe it’s all instant coffee too.
For my main meals, I had solomillo, a pork dish served with french fries. (They also love potatoes so everything comes with chips, french fries, or chunks of potatoes) I also had a lot of fish: fish in soups, fish with an egg in a tomatoey sauce, salmon with potatoes and avacado mayonnaise, and fish and shrimp meatballs. My favorite was championenes–mushrooms! The ones I had were cooked whole and had some green sauce that was divine!
Their tortillas are actually potato cake things which I found amusing. I also tried their menudo — it had chorizo and french fries added to it, but lacked hominy, though it tasted similar to our menudo.
Everything (mostly) is served in tapa form which means as appetizers. I am not a big fan of this, but do as the Spanish do. Other things to note: wine is like $3.00 per glass (woot woot)! Everyone drinks beer and wine throughout the day, but beer is served in small glasses, like 6 oz. They also don’t serve lunch until 1 or 2 pm and dinner at 8-10 pm.
Overall, they tend to focus on natural flavors rather than overload on sauces or spices. It’s not blad but less rich than American food, though just as salty and fried as Southern food. (A lot of food is fried here)
The people in Sevilla were…different to say the least. One-on-one they were friendly. For the most part, older women (60 and up) refused to speak to me if they could. Lol They were not very nice. I had a few old men speak to me. One allowed me to sit with him at a cafe when no one else (I’m talking about those old biddies) would. There was also a very nice old man at the Flamenco bar I went to on my last evening who spoke to me about the music and dance.
No one says “excuse me” or let’s women pass or holds open the door for you. I helped a father who dropped something once by picking it up — and no thanks. It’s a cultural thing in Texas for us to be so polite so it’s odd when we don’t experience that abroad.
I noticed that there are many couples; everyone had a baby or two! There were also tons of high school kids out every night and fewer people my age (I assume they go to the bigger cities). No one spoke to me at bars or restaurants. It felt somewhat cliquey, but that’s okay. As a solo traveler, you mentally prepare for this.
On a side note, many of the people are beautiful and very fashionable. They are always very self aware of their clothes and men and women are made up for every occassion. They also love shoes – there are so many shoe stores which I fell in love with! It wasn’t hard to notice that I was one of three women with short hair. Lol. And many assumed I was Spanish until they spoke to me.
I’ve been doing decently when it comes to Spanish, though not particularly wonderful. Their accent is very hard to understand (I’m used to Mexican Spanish) and they speak very very fast. I am also quite sure they have a hard time understanding me as my pronunciation is poor and has my accent! LoL Still, I am glad to practice at least.
All the men call me “guapa.” (It’s starting to get a tiny bit old). No one has asked me my name yet.
Funny story: I kept noticing that no one wore rings on their left ring finger which I found odd because I was quite sure most couples with kids were married. I noticed it on my hosts too. So I googled it and Spainards wear their wedding bands on their right ring finger usually. Suffice to say, I was quick to take my Claddagh ring off that finger and moved it to my center finger. Lol. I mean, who knows… There could be a Spanish boyfriend in my future? Lol
Flamenco — I think I’m in love. I have always loved Latin dances but there is something so enticing about flamenco.
My last night in Sevilla, I saw a show. It begins with the guitarist and singer. They sing and play for about 5-10 min. It’s wonderful tunes that I couldn’t help but sway to. Then the dancer comes out. I was sad to see only a male flamenco dancer, but maybe I will see a woman next time!
Regardless, he was a fantastic dancer. It involves fast footwork on different rhythms, spins, knee slaps, and romantic hand movements. It was so mesmerizing. An old man talked to me about the dance. He was a student to the guitarrist. He also thought I was a professional dancer which totally made my day. 🙂
Santa Semana — can I say Guau! (Wow!)
There is so much to say about this holiday. During my trip to Seville, it was the very beginning of Santa Semana, an Easter celebration in Spain celebrated the weeks before Easter.
It involves each Catholic church doing a procession from their church to the Cathedral of Sevilla and then back to their own church. The people in the procession wear robes (white, black, and sometimes purple or blue) and hoods so that only God knows their identity. Unfortunately, it looks like the KKK garb, but rest assured this is an old tradition (far older than KKK) that has no connection to racism.
I was glad to see women, men, and even children participate in the processions as the hooded figures. They carry lighted candles and march in front of a large float carried by men (a huge honor to carry it). The float is usually a depiction of Jesus, his death, or Mary. It’s decked out in gold and lace and other rich ornaments. Following the float, a band plays a somewhat haunting (but still beautiful) tune.
Everyone heads out to watch the processions which makes it hard to get a good spot to watch. My first night I was very lucky to find a good spot where I could take pictures. Though for Sevillans, it’s a common and a yearly tradition, for me it was like looking in on a secretive and sacred part of the city’s past as they’ve been doing this for hundreds of years. Can you imagine what it was like even 100 years ago?
For many Sevillans, it was a time to socialize while they watched, but for me, it was a truly memorable experience that I am glad to have been a part of.
Most everything went smoothly for me in Seville. The only drawbacks was my inability to get a good night’s rest. Part of it might have been that I wasn’t in my own bed, the other part is I could hear my hosts go to sleep at midnight which woke me up. It was also very cold in the rooms — no heat. 🙁 But mostly, it was just me. I could not sleep, not sure why, but I am hoping that changes.
I also found that I felt super safe at night and walking alone.
So far, my vacation has been wonderful and I imagine it will only get better!
Next stop: Barcelona! (Pero, Bar-th-uh-lona! LOL)