Sevilla Spain : October 2017
We had struggled to find a decent camp site close enough to Seville. Chris checked park4night.com and found a parking which said it was on the bus route to Sevilla. The gps co-ords of these places are sometimes a little dodgy so it did take us 2 rounds to find it but when we did …wow! Chris had done us proud. It was a camper stop(aire) in a small port on the Guadalquivir river about 15 min on the bus from Sevilla centre. Did you know that :Sevilla was once the capital of Spain and the richest city in Europe , it is still the 4th largest city in Spain? Although it looks to be far from the sea, it actually has a harbour , located 80km from the the Atlantic Ocean and is the only river port in Spain?
We got to park along the river bank overlooking the boats and we had electricity, toilets, showers and a little bar/restaurant on site.Drinks & tapas all for the princely sum of €5 – What more do you need? See pics below..
We headed off in the late afternoon to check out the city, the bus trip was easy and only cost €1.60 each. We strolled around the historic Centro and as to be expected busloads and busloads of tourists, all exploring the Cathedral (The largest Cathedral in the world and right up there as one of the largest places of worship in the known universe.),as well as the tower attached called La Giralda( it was once part of the original mosque built on this site), and the Alcázar(fort). We ventured into one of the chapels and were mesmerized at all these people lining up to kiss the hand of an effigy of the Virgin Mary. There was one guy wiping the spot everyone kissed, in the interests of health and safety we must assume, whilst another official recited the “Hail Mary” over and over and over again. I respect religion and I love churches but this all just felt a little staged. Especially as most people were more interested in having their picture taken by a mate whilst they kissed the hand, than the actually significance of the moment. Nope not for us and we left…
We decided to go for supper in one of the many barrios( neighborhoods), having read about Triana we walked there in Parsleys Pursuit of the perfect place to eat. The main area was really busy but again full of tourists and menus translated into more languages than a John Grisham novel. Better than the Centro area but still quite touristy. We headed for a place mentioned in one of the numerous blogs that I had read which apparently specializes in quail; we got there around 8pm but it looked so quiet and nondescript we moved on and found a spot named “Restaurant La Espereranza” , which was great. We sat outside on the pavement and ordered a variety of food from tomato salad, chipirones, asparagus & potato salad as well as a steak dish with whiskey sauce. All really good. The funny part is that on the way back, we walked past the first place and they were jam packed. Just goes to show you cannot judge a restaurant in Spain before 9pm! After the obligatory helado ( gelato) we rushed to catch the last bus; the driver had us thinking this would be our last bus ever.
Some of you say all we seem to do is eat and drink; no names mentioned (Tanya, Perry, Roger and ….) and you would be 100% correct, but we do try and sightsee as well . . .
Another fantastically warm day, so we went for a lovely walk along the river past the Torre Oro (gold tower) for breakfast at the Mercado Lonja del Barranco.( oh damn I told you this was going to be about sightseeing not eating!), its beautifully done but no longer a working market. Some might call it touristy as we did not see too may Sevillianos eating there, but its a really good way to experience and try all the different food in one setting.
We did go to the Mercado de Triana as well, here you can see the fruit and vegetable stalls selling local products as well as stalls selling many types of charcuterie and cheese. The main product being the varieties of Jámon. They are all valued based on how long its been cured and other strict guidelines set down by the Spanish authorities. The most expensive being the Jámon Ibérico de Bellota (acorn). No fish today as it’s Monday and the fishermen don’t work Sunday’s so no fish on Mondays.
From there we walked into the shopping area along beautiful boulevards with lovely apartments lining the streets. It was quite easy for me to find the shopping area and we spent a couple of hours wandering up and down window shopping. They have the usual culprits of H&M, Zara, Bershka (ok I see mens eyes glazing over), but the shoe shops WOW! Those are really incredible with shop upon shop of really different Spanish made shoes. I wish I could buy a million pairs, but we don’t only have the booodget to worry about we also have a space problem.
Sevilla has these beautiful Casas Palacios ( house palaces) which are open to the public. We (Rose) chose the house of one Condesa de Lebrija. This lady was an avid collector of everything….. mosaic tiles, roman artefacts and paintings. She filled her house with these treasures (Chris felt sorry for her husband) and now its on display for the public to view. I loved it as you can see by the myriad of pics. ( Chris:Fairly interesting, but so badly curated and exhibited that I was ready to run outside fairly quickly)
Whilst we were having a quick drink to regain our strength , I spotted an interesting place called “Casa De La Memoria” I looked it up and saw it was a Flamenco house. I have always wanted to watch Flamenco but I thought I had to convince Chris. Being the loving husband he is, he agreed and we booked to go the following evening.
Next up the “Setas” (The Mushrooms). We got the impression the Sevillianos are not so mad about this new landmark.Officially called the Metropol ParasolI, it is largest wooden sculpture in the world. We paid the fee to go up and the 360deg view at the top is really worth it. The pity is that you can see so many beautiful buildings from the top but similarly to what Chris says above; a lot of the info looks old, faded and tired; not enough is done to inform and educate the tourists, particularly if you do not speak Spanish.
That day we finished off our sightseeing with a drink on the roof top of a hotel in the Barrio Santa Cruz (the old Jewish quarter ) It has so many narrow higgledy piggledy streets that you could easily get lost. Some of the streets are so narrow only one person can walk at a time.
Those of you who have travelled with me, know I am obsessed with finding the perfect roof top bar. This was a good find if I say so myself. Not only a beautiful ,beautiful view of the cathedral but the waiter was so friendly and knowledgeable about wine, we also discovered the only other crowd on the roof included some South African families from Johannesburg. We had hardly seen another South African in weeks of travel this far.
After sundowners on the rooftop we went tp La Azotea, a restaurant doing a more modern take on Spanish food. It was really busy but we chose to sit at the bar counter and have tapas rather than a full meal. We tried quite a few new dishes, our favorite being Ajoblanco. (cold almond soup )with mango, dried tuna and basil oil, really good. The other dishes we had were pulpo (octopus), salmon tartare and oxtail meatballs, all with a bit of a twist and very delicious. The Centro is definitely more enjoyable in the evening, still a lot of people, but the busloads are gone.
Our last day started with us sneakily joining a walking tour. We saw a guy leading a group of people with “Free Walking Tour” emblazoned on his umbrella, so we followed him as he looked to be walking to the Plaza de Españaa and I really wanted to go. The fact that this stop was the last stop on a 3 hour walking tour did not bother us and we just pretended to be part of it. Chris was a little embarrassed but not me. Probably my highlight, culturally of course, of this city was the Plaza de España; It was built to showcase Sevilla to the rest of the world for the 1929 International Trade Fair that. It’s spectacular and must have blown the visitors away as they came down the boulevard and saw it in front of them. I’ll keep it short and you can view the pics, but essentially it is a large semi circular building with alcoves the entire length. All tiled with mosaics and representing all the provinces in Spain. Surrounded by a moat with bridges and fountains makes it just a picture perfect monument to Spain. The gardens around it were also lovely, shady and cool so we walked a little bit to get out of the heat.
We were now a little tired of sightseeing and we badly needed a drink (or two) and to kill some time before the Flamenco show, so back to the Mercado Lonja de Barranco for some chill time in the garden next to the river.
A little background to Flamenco. It is a Spanish art form made up of three parts: guitar playing (“guitarra”), song (“cante”), and dance (“baile”).
It originated in the southern regions of Spain, and is considered mostly Andalusian but it’s thought to be influenced by many world cultures, and especially Arab influences from the Moorish times.
My experience of Flamenco was really just the little bit I have seen on a TV programme or a movie and so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I think I expected more the dancing with ladies in bright dresses clicking castanets and men playing guitar. It was so much more. The show’s cast consisted of 3 men; 2 singing and one playing a guitar and then 2 dancers, one male and one female.
The show was a lot about the singing and the passion they showed with the singing was palpable. For some songs there is no guitar and only the 2 men singing and clapping as well as a fascinating use of hands and finger tapping on a table to create an unbeatable sound and atmosphere, this along with the guitarist sets the compás or rhythm. There were no castanets, just their hands clapping in a rhythm. The singing for both of us was reminiscent of the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer, which we hear in the Bo-Kaap and other parts of Cape Town At some parts I found myself holding my breath it was so emotional. The male dancer had such a expressive face and he stomped and pranced up and down the stage. The woman had a beautiful posture and she was so elegant. She was very good but I found the male dancer almost stole the show for me. The show was an hour long and I was worried Chris would be bored but the hour went by in a flash and he was entranced. Its hard to explain how we felt, both of us walked out feeling strangely bewitched by the magic of it all.
We did have a giggle at the presenter who introduced the cast in 4 languages whilst holding up a sign with a camera and cell phone with strikethrough indicating that there were to be “no photos, no videos . ” I suspect she should’ve been speaking in Chinese but she certainly made sure everyone understood. Only at the end of the show when the performers indicated as such were we allowed to take photos.
After dinner we headed to a restaurant called La Blanco Paloma( recommend by our ‘free’ guide that morning) and enjoyed some really good tapas. ( so good we never had a chance to take pics) A really fantastic way to end our day and our visit to Sevilla.
For now it’s time to move on as Anne ( Chris’ sister)is meeting us at her house for us in the Algarve in Portugal; we are looking forward to a night or two in loooxury. Well a real bed and en suite!