3 days in scorching hot Sevilla…

Our week in Morocco had sadly come to an end so it was time to switch from the land of tajine to the land of tapas – first stop, Sevilla.

As our plane began it’s descent into the city I noticed hundreds of bright blue coloured swimming pools dotted in almost every backyard we passed over below.

When the airport doors slid open and I was hit squarely in the face by a thick, hot wall of air, it became very apparent why every man and his dog in Sevilla was so keen to have their very own swimming pool.

Sevilla’s Plaza de Toros – bullfights still take place here on Sundays during summer.

Apparently Sevilla is one of the very hottest places in all of Spain. So hot in fact that during the usual peak holidays months of July and August the place is almost abandoned with the scorching temperatures of sometimes close to 50C proving too much for many tourists.

Our hostel – Sevilla Inn Backpackers – though unequipped with a pool thankfully had some huge air conditioning units that allowed us to cool off after some sweaty hours of sightseeing. The sites of interest were plentiful so over the 3 days we settled into the steady routine of the following…

-Wake up late for a big breakfast cook up

-Explore a place or two, sweat up a storm

-Nap for a few hours in air-conditioned bliss

-As the evening starts to cool, venture out to wander the streets again

-Tapas tapas tapas!

…so to summarise our Sevilla experience basically revolved around sightseeing, tapas and napping. Not a bad little lifestyle to get accustomed to.

One of the first places we visited in Sevilla was the magnificent Plaza de Espana. The place was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American exhibition that was held in the city and consists of a huge semi-circular plaza surrounded by a large moat with buildings continually running along the edge of the circle. For a small fee you can hire a local rowboat and cruise along the water and underneath the numerous beautiful bridges that connect the plaza area to the main building. The structure is now used as offices for Spanish Government administrative offices so some lucky Sevillans get to work in the stunning building every day.

Plaza de Espana

The Plaza de Espana has actually been used as a filming location a number of times and one of the most recognisable of these would be it’s use in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace. Check out this link –http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=edhLosefD0Q – from about 17 seconds in to see the Plaza standing in as the ‘City of Theed’.

A waterfall in some of the gardens close by to Plaza de Espana

Just across from the Plaza de Espana we encountered the Parque de María Luisa – a stretch of beautiful lush green gardens scattered with fountains and small ponds that provided some very welcome relief to the heat of the plaza. The entire area of the gardens was huge but as we were fairly zapped of energy from the heat we only managed to explore a small section of them.

Good to see beer and water are the same price!

In the evening with partook in a ‘free’ walking tour of the city and it’s Jewish quarter given by Pancho tours. The concept of these tours is that the guides are unofficial and thus they don’t charge a set price. Instead you partake in the tour and then decided how much you would like to give them in the form of a tip, dependent on your opinion of the tour and also how much you can afford. I think it’s a great concept as the guides are solely working for tips as opposed to already having your cash in their pockets so they work really hard to make the tour enjoyable and stimulating. We listened to a number of different anecdotes as we strolled around the city that we would have been hard pressed to find in any guidebook.

Another statue, another dad joke…

Although our Italian-born guide Phillipo had the painful habit of cracking an extremely corny ‘dad joke’ every minute or two, he did have some pretty interesting stuff to relay to us through the two hour tour. We were told tales of betrayed lovers, mass murders and at one stage shown a place where a woman requested her head be placed  after her death as a warning to others of the pain that could be suffered if you value romance over family.

All the sweating and walking had left us fairly ravenous so we decided it was the perfect time to visit a tiny local tapas house that had been recommended to us by one of the hostel staff.

Sometimes I’m a little sceptical about the restaurants recommendations given by hostels as we’ve encountered some fairly lousy food due to them – but this time the guy’s tip really hit the spot!

The rooftop of Alfafa Bar…

Alfafa occupied a tiny corner storefront with a corner bar area and a few scatted tables and stools. The walls were covered with antique wine bottles rows of legs of Jamon Serrano hung from the high wooden roof.

We decided to trust the expertise of the staff themselves so simply ordered 5 ‘tapas mixtas’ and started downing the 1.60 Euro house red wine. Our decision to let them do the choosing worked very much in our favour and we treated to the following scrumptious dishes…

– prosciutto slices topped with parmesan cheese, olive oil and rocket

– grilled slices of salted eggplant

– toasted bread topped with tomato and basil pesto

– cubes of zucchini cooked in a warm and slightly spicy tomato sauce

– baguette topped with an amazing mixture of blue cheese and walnuts

I was in food heaven – truly…and for only a smidgen over 10 Euros each including 3 glasses of wine I thought the whole thing was quite the bargain as well!

Inside the cathedral during the mass service…

One of the days that we spent in Sevilla happened to be a Sunday, so we were able to take advantage of the fact that you can enter the Sevilla Cathedral for free in the morning, waiving the usual 8 Euro admission fee! The whole cathedral is massive – apparently the largest cathedral in the world and the third largest church. I was able to get a sense of the enormity of it all as I quietly wandered around the main building and peeked into the central section where a Sunday mass service was underway.

The steamy days continued and during an afternoon session of chilling on the terrace I befriended a girl who was volunteering at the hostel for a few weeks to try and save a little money. When we were discussing her favourite places within the town she was insistent that we should definitely visit ‘the mushroom’. Apparently it was a large wooden structure that you could pay a small fee to ascend to the top of for some sweeping views of the city.

The ‘mushroom’ – we finally found it!

I really had no idea what to expect and as I asked a few people for directions to the ‘mushroom’ they looked at me like I was slightly insane. It turned out that this was just a nickname and the structure was actually called the Metropol Parasol. It truly was a bizarre sight when we rounded a corner and saw the massive curving, winding wooden building and awning spread across a large plaza. Apparently it is the largest wooden structure in the world.

Wandering along the rooftop of the Metropol Parasol

For only 1.50 Euros we were able to take an elevator to the rooftop and wander along the path that wound its way over the many curves and bends of the rippling wood. The view over the city was incredible and in my opinion they could charge a lot more and it would still definitely be worth it!

Our time was beginning to wind up in Sevilla and there was one thing I knew I had to see before I left – some Flamenco dancing. This style of dancing originated in the south of Spain and is particularly popular in Sevilla, so with a little research it was easy to find a well recommended place to go and see some of the locals in action. On our final night, we meet up with Kate – one of Will’s friends from home who was on a month long trip through Europe – and downed some annoyingly average tapas before heading off to ‘La Caboneria’ to tuck into the wine and take in one of their nightly flamenco shows.

A taste of Flamenco at La Carboneria…

I’d heard a few mixed reviews of the place, with some people saying they found it overpriced and a little touristy, but I can honestly say we were really happy with the section of the show we saw. On the small stage sat a middle aged strumming away on an acoustic guitar whilst a younger man sang a slow sorrowful sounding melody. He was quite intense and rarely opened his eyes throughout the whole thing. As the man crooned away, a Spanish woman with an extremely harsh face began to slowly stomp and spin, holding her back upright and gradually building up the intensity over a number of minutes before bursting into fits of quick staccato like steps. As unfriendly as she looked it was incredible to watch and it everyone in the room seemed to be quite transfixed by her dancing for the whole hour that we were there.

Lapping up some more soulful singing once the dancing had stopped…

After the dancing had ceased, the night was winding up so we walked Kate back home to the ‘palace’ she was staying in. I’m not using the term palace flippantly either, the place was genuinely called ‘Palacio de….something or other’ and the beautiful historic building came complete with huge wooden doors, an elegantly suited doorman, a wide spacious courtyard and a beautifully furnished lobby. The three of us sat together in the spacious courtyard and downed the remainder of Kate’s complimentary mini bar. The experience was made even more enjoyable by the fact that we knew the entire place was way out of our league!

Next time I’m back in Spain, I think I’m going to have make the shift from hostels to palaces, at least for a night or two!

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Comments
2 Responses to “3 days in scorching hot Sevilla…”
  1. Sara Ann says:

    I just got home from Spain a couple weeks ago and I can testify to that heat in Seville! At least it isn’t humid there!

  2. callebetis says:

    If you want to stay in a palace, check out some of the paradors! They are pricier than a hostel but AMAZING, and have a 30% youth discount if you book online, which can make some of them comparable to a mid-level hotel.

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