Enjoy sun-drenched squares and flamenco music. Grab some comfortable shoes and an ‘abanico’ (fan) and explore one of Spain’s most memorable cities.
For a change, we enjoy the luxury of a four-star hotel.
Purists will put our heads on a tray as we consider bypassing Seville entirely, with the privilege of just vegetating and enjoying the TV and pool. But that will be next week on the Costa Brava. Showered and dressed, the day pack is packed and we’re off to Seville for the day. We discover a beautiful, lush city full of fan palm trees, cafes, and tons of monuments just a 10-minute bus ride from our “suburban” hotel.
Seville Town Hall and to the Cathedral
We arrive at Plaza Nueva with our walking shoes on and start walking. Our walk begins at the Ayuntamiento, the town hall, which is generously covered and sheltered from the intense heat, which also provides some shelter for the many calleches who ply their trade from the town hall. We walk through San Francisco Square and head towards what we think is the entrance to the cathedral, only to find ourselves at the exit of the cathedral. We have to go around the other side of the building and enter the huge building which, like many churches in Spain, originally started as a mosque. Then, when it fell in 1401, its dilapidated condition an embarrassment to the church, officials decided to start over with a new and larger building. We learn that this is one of the largest churches in the world. It’s a really big and confusing piece of architecture for us to digest. We walk into the main sanctuary and find a huge Gothic building with a baroque folly added to the already subdued Gothic coolness in the middle of the main nave. We unknowingly split up and focused on the complex and many details of the temple.
Near the grave of Christopher Columbus
We find each other again at the grave of Christopher Columbus, which is stupid in itself. We find young priests and nuns kissing the monument and rejoicing. 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’ve seen a lot of towers on our trip and most of them will give you a step count and a time estimate, but there’s no line and Lonely Planet tells us it’s an easy climb. It rises 32 stories. Ramps were added in the 19th century so nobles could take their horses to the top without having to walk. I hated having to clean up after them.
We are ‘taken out of the church’ and walk literally south through the ‘Plaza del Triunfo’ where our next main site is the Alcázar. Although the name implies that there was once a castle on this site, today there is only a palatial palace. We are not ready for that. It goes on and on, most follow the Islamic model of the house where life is centered on the inner courtyard. Only this palace has an inner courtyard within an inner courtyard. Just when you think you should be close, you step through a door into another complex of rooms and courtyards. We walk through them in awe. And then we step out into the lush, beautiful and vast gardens. We stop for coffee and then walk through town to our hotel. We pass a former factory that is now part of the university and looks more like a palace than a factory where Bizet’s Carmen rolled cigarettes. We pass the Plaza de Espana, built in 1929 for display, tile fantasy and a jumble of styles. And then, through the chaos of the streets where a subway system is being built to help this city of 750,000 overcome its overcrowding, we finally make it back to our hotel.
Great food and great wine
After a nap, we take the bus back into town to a vegetarian restaurant that Greg read about. we both feel we need to change the Spanish focus on meat. After a lot of driving around, we find it at a small dead end that is not on our map. We have great food, absolutely delicious and even better for being virtuous. Since the restaurant is very small (I’d say a hole in the wall, except we’re sitting outside in a small square at the end of the street), the tables are separated. We end up sharing ours with two other travelers, Jörg and Torsten, from Berlin, with whom we have a nice chat, comparing our travel notes and enjoying great food and Spanish wine.
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