Sevilla is the 8th romantic city in the world (but I think I might love it more than Venice, which is #1). I think I've said that a lot in this blog: "I would definitely come back here"…but for Sevilla it's somewhere that I wish I could live one day. Although Rahmah will probably beat me to it haha. I think it's the people there, the Andalusia laid back feeling (that's the region of southern Spain), and the culture that really pulled us in. Not to mention that we loved our hostel. It is my favorite one so far!
On the night we arrived we just went out to dinner and here is where I learned that Sangria, for people in Andalucia, is just for the tourists. Immediately when we sat down, the waiter basically told us we wanted Sangria. We usually just order glasses of it, but he brought us a liter (that's more than a bottle of wine!)
The next day our guide on our walking tour told us that the drink here was Tinto de Verano. Rahmah and I fell in love. It's basically:
1) 40-45% Red wine - we asked what kind and they said it's just the cheapest house wine
2) 55-60% Lemonade or Limeade or 7up…something bubbly
I think we had about 5-6 glasses of tinto verano a day….
Day 1: Free walking tour of Sevilla & Hostel Dinner
From our hostel, La Banda, we went on the free walking tour that they provided. Free walking tours are becoming really popular because it's just tip-based. So you pay them what you think it was worth. Rahmah and I loved our guide, Medi. He was hilarious. He gave us lotsssss of information and the tour lasted 3 hours but it was worth it…well it was free, but we tipped him well.
On all of the sewer grates, the official motto of Seville is written: No8Do. It means "No me ha dejado" or "It (meaning Sevilla) has not abandoned me". The 8 represents the shape that wool was put into, which is called madeja. So putting No + madeja + do = "No me ha dejado". King Alfonso X said this because the citizens stayed behind him when his son tried to usurp him from the throne.
Triana is the neighborhood that lies on the other side of the Guadalquivir River - basically separated from the main city. We learned that the Trianeros identify really strongly with the neighborhood and don't consider it part of Sevilla. Some want to separate altogether. Our guide told us that what makes Sevilla so well-known, the flamenco culture, actually comes from Triana because all of the gypsies lived on the other side of the river...the poor side...
3) La Macarena
I learned that the Macarena song came from Sevilla! It's about the girlfriend, Macarena, of a spanish army recruit who then hooked up with his two friends. Once he said the lyrics in English, I got it haha! Also, apparently, a lot of girls are named Macarena in Sevilla…Rahmah and I found this to be true when we went to a food place where they call out your name to pick it up at the counter and they kept calling Macarena!
4) Tobacco Factory
We stopped by the old Royal Tobacco Factory. Sevilla was the first place for tobacco manufacturers in Europe and they held a monopoly on tobacco from the Americas. The reason our guide took us here was because hundreds of Operas were made about the gypsies that worked here. The Opera Carmen is about a soldier who was seduced by the gypsy Carmen. I didn't know the opera but I knew the famous song when he started humming it…youtube Habanera song from Carmen.
5) Plaza de Espana
This plaza was built in the 1920s in preparation for Sevilla’s 1929 World Fair. Along with Plaza de Espana, Sevilla also built the Maria Luisa Park. The Park has a number of pavilions for different colonies Spain made in the Americas as a sort of "apology" for their acts there. In the guide books, they then say that Sevilla made the Plaza de Espana as a semicircle with the opening towards the park "welcoming and apologizing" to the Americas. Our guide told us that they only said this because they ran out of money to finish the whole circle of Plaza de Espana!
Tidbit for my uncle: remember this from Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones. It's Planet Naboo (but in Star Wars they completed the circle).
We liked the little alcoves for each of the major cities in Spain. There is a picture of the city with a map. We took a picture of all the cities we were going to.
That night we ate dinner at our hostel. Favorite thing #1: They served dinner for 6 Euros and you eat at the rooftop bar family style with an amazing view of the Sevilla Cathedral lite up at night. Not to mention Tinto Veranos for 2 Euros. We met so many people - England, Australia, Quebec, France, China, the list goes on. After eating we bar hopped with the people we met. Again we gained our titles as the Jersey Girls haha.
Day 2: Alcazer, Plaza Espana, Arabic Baths, & Flamenco Show
This day will forever be our favorite day together in Spain. We did so much and I still was able to get a siesta in!
We started the morning with the Alcazer. It is a medieval Islamic palace but you can see the fusion of Spanish Christian and Moorish architecture. I really liked how there were a whole bunch of courtyards with a fountain and little garden. I definitely need my house to be like that.
One of the highlights of our day was going to the Arabic Baths, Aire de Sevilla. There were Thermal baths (hot, medium, and cold), hammam, and a Jacuzzi all in this 16th century mansion. It was perfect because we received 2 hours there and it was great to relax after all of our sightseeing. I'm pretty sure I fell asleep in the medium temperature pool. The music was really soothing.
If that wasn't enough to make a perfect day, we then went to the Museo del Baile Flamenco and saw an early Flamenco show. My only regret was going to the early show because there was a tour of senior citizens who didn't turn off the sound from their camera. So every couple seconds you would keep hearing the noises of cameras, which kind of takes away from the singing and music. Overall I really enjoyed it. The way they sing is so different, I don't even think I can do that with my voice. I would love to do a dinner show next time.
Our hostel was serving Paella that night, so we ate with our new friends and went around the town. It made us kind of sad because we were having such a great time, but we knew we were leaving the next day.
Day 3: Catedral de Sevilla
Our last day, Rahmah and I planned a light schedule so that we didn't feel rushed to get to our train to Malaga (which was at 5pm). We woke up late and went to the Seville Cathedral. The mosque that used to stand in this location was torn down after Sevilla fell to the Christians, but the minaret of the mosque, La Giralda, still stands. We walked up 30 floors to the top of the Giralda Tower to get some views of Sevilla. You can see the bull fighting ring in the picture and next time I definitely have to make time for that.
The Cathedral itself is an icon of Gothic architecture and also houses Christopher Columbus' tomb.
This next story looks long, but trust me it's funny:
Afterwards, Rahmah and I had a really nice lunch sharing a Paella and then had about an hour to get to our train. Unfortunately, we got on the bus that took us through THE ENTIRE city and it took 45 minutes. The sad part was that we were only a 15 minute walk from the train station and Rahmah still needed to print out her ticket! We jumped off the bus at the station and booked it. My bag has really big wheels so I was able to jump it off and on to curbs easily, but Rahmah's bag kept flipping over. It made me laugh so hard because Rahmah runs faster than me, but then her bag would flip and I would pass her and then she would pass me and then her bag would flip again. Finally we made it to the customer service with 4 minutes until the train. She tried to find her ticket using the credit card that she used, but they couldn't find it. At this point, Rahmah yelled at me to go to the train. I look at her and scream: "Okay, I'll see you in Malaga" and run. Once I sat down on the train I realized, Oh my God…we didn't make a backup plan. Then just as the conductor was getting on the train I see a head running in the window waving her hands: "Senor, Senor, Por favor!!" We sat on the train for about 15 minutes trying to catch our breaths and laughing so hard. We had both made it and we were on our way to Malaga, a port city of Spain...it is also a city hated by Sevillanos.