Enjoy sun-drenched plazas and wafting flamenco music! Grab comfortable shoes and an “abanico” (fan), and explore one of Spain’s most memorable cities.
We enjoy the luxury of a four-star hotel for a change.
Purists would have our heads on a platter as we consider bypassing Sevilla altogether for the privilege of just vegging and enjoying some TV and the swimming pool. But that will come next week in the Costa Brava. Showered and dressed, the day pack is packed, and we head to Sevilla for the day. We discover a beautiful, lush city full of fan palms, cafés and tons of monuments only a 10-minute bus ride from our ‘suburban’ hotel.
Sevilla’s City Hall and Onto the Cathedral
We arrive at the Plaza Nueva with our walking shoes on and start walking. Our walk begins with the Ayuntamiento, the city hall that is richly canopied and sheltered from the blazing heat, which also provides some shelter for the many caleches that ply their trade from city hall. We walk around the Plaza de San Francisco and head towards what we think is the entrance to the Cathedral, only to find ourselves at the exit of the Cathedral. We must walk around to the other side of the building and enter the immense edifice that, like many churches in Spain, started out initially as a Mosque. Then, when it was knocked down in 1401, its decaying state an embarrassment to the church, the officials decided to start all over again with a new and bigger building. We learn that this is one of the largest churches in the world. It is indeed a very big and confusing architectural morsel for us to digest. We walk into the main sanctuary and find a huge gothic building into which a baroque folly has been added to the already overwrought gothic coolness in the middle of the main nave. We unknowingly split up and focused on the intricate and many details of the cathedral.
At the Tomb of Christopher Columbus
We find each other again at the tomb of Christopher Columbus, which is a folly unto itself. We find young priests and nuns kissing the monument and genuflecting. We are not sure why. We move through the sanctuary and continue our self-guided tour, which takes us to the Giralda or tower. We have seen many towers on our trip, and most of them will give you a stair count and a time-in-line estimate, but there is no line, and the Lonely Planet tells us that it is an easy climb. It has ramps up the 32 stories! The ramps were added in the 19th century so the nobility could ride their horses to the top without walking. I would hate to have to clean up after them.
The Glorious Alcázar
We are ‘churched out’ and walk literally south across the Plaza del Triunfo, where our next major site is the Alcázar. Although the name means that once there was a fort on this site, today, there is only a sumptuous palace. We are not prepared for it. It goes on and on, most following the Islamic model of home, where life is centred on an interior courtyard. Only this palace has an interior courtyard within an interior courtyard. Just when you think you must be close to being through, you walk through a door into another complex of rooms and courtyards. We walk through them in awe. And then we go out into the lush, beautiful and huge gardens! We stop for a coffee and then walk back to our hotel through the town. We pass the former factory, now part of the university and looking more like a palace than a factory, where Bizet’s Carmen rolled tobacco. We cross to the Plaza de Espana, built for a 1929 exposition, a fantasy of tiles and a jumble of styles. And then, through the mess of the streets, where a subway system is being built to help this city of 750,000 deal with its congestion, we finally get back to our hotel.
Great Food and Great Wine
After naps, we take the bus back into town to a vegetarian restaurant Greg has read about; we both feel we need a change from the Spanish focus on meat. After much circling around, we find it on a tiny dead-end street that isn’t on our map. We have an excellent meal, absolutely delicious and even better for being virtuous. Because the restaurant is so tiny (I would say it is a hole-in-the-wall, except that we are sitting outside in the tiny plaza at the end of the street), tables are shared. We end up sharing ours with two other travellers, Jorg and Thorsten, from Berlin, with whom we have an enjoyable conversation, comparing notes about our travels, and enjoying the great food and the Spanish wine.
World Traveler, Writer, and Blogger, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of the followsummer.com travel blog. Come, travel the world with me and my experiential eye!
Just came upon your post and loved it! We lived in/near Seville for several years and you described so many places that we loved and miss now that we’re back in California.
Lucky you, Rhonda! One of our favourite memories of Spain. Thanks for sharing your comments!