May 24, 2019 – May 26, 2019
After not visiting Spain for over a year, we’ve made up for lost time with practically two back to back trips to the beautiful country. This time, we headed the furthest south I have yet been, to Seville, a city rich in history and character.
In contrast to most of our city trips, I had three full days to explore, arriving early Friday morning and leaving late Sunday night. Driving through the city from the airport, I could already tell what a special place this was. The narrow, cobblestone streets were filled with beautiful buildings. People were out and about enjoying the sun everywhere I looked.
Unfortunately, my parents had to cancel their trip to Spain, so I was on my own for the day until Tyler arrived Friday night. I dropped my bag at the Hotel Cervantes and headed down the street to get breakfast. There were so many options of cute places to grab a bite and coffee, so I settled in at one with outdoor seating so I could people watch as I sipped a latte.
During the day on Friday, I spent most of my time just walking around the city. Of course, I admired the huge cathedral, from practically every angle. It is the focal point of the city and is the third largest cathedral in the world.
I also walked to the top of this tower that used to be a defensive point of the city. Originally built in the 1200s, and later rebuilt after the 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, this tower had withstood the test of time.
Probably one of my best decisions of the day was to go to the spa. The Ancient Aire baths looked like something out of old Roman times. There were several darkly lit pools you could choose from: hot pool, really hot pool, warm pool, really cold pool, jets pool, salty pool, rooftop pool. I think my favorite was the rooftop pool. From there you could see the whole city. I enjoyed looking to the different rooftops and seeing people hanging their clothes up to dry. You could tell that people actually lived there.
I bopped around between the different pools for a while until it was time for my massage. It was pure bliss and I have never been so relaxed as I was when I headed back out into the world. I was in a bit of a daze and kind of wandered around until I realized I was hungry. Luckily there was a little cafe nearby and I got some delicious gazpacho, tuna and sangria. Surprisingly, a perfect combination.
Soon it was time for Tyler to arrive, so I went back to the hotel to get ready and wait for him. Some locals I had met during the day recommended a rooftop bar, so that’s where we headed first. Pura Vida Terraza was a trendy rooftop joint with really cute bartenders. We grabbed a cocktail and gazed out over the skyline. The bar was overlooking the cathedral and I just stood in awe of how grand it was.
For dinner, we went to Abantal, a nice restaurant a bit on the outside of the city. By the time of our 9pm reservations, I had already been up for 17 hours and was starting to get sleepy. I did enjoy the different dishes we sampled, but probably would have done better with a shorter dinner. We made it back to the hotel at hour 22 of being awake and I was wiped.
When in Spain, eat chocolate and churros for breakfast. We went to the supposed best in town and saddled up to the bar. As is typical, there were no seats at the bar, you just stand while you enjoy your breakfast. Delicious.
Post breakfast was our typical walking tour of the city. Unbeknownst to us before booking, taking place in Seville on Saturday was the Final Cup – a soccer match between Barcelona and Valencia. I guess we should have known something was up when our hotel for Saturday night was 4x as expensive as our hotel for Friday, but maybe we just weren’t paying attention very well. Anyway, the city was chaos on Saturday. There were soccer fans everywhere setting off fireworks in the middle of huge crowds and singing their club team songs.
The poor tour guide was just trying to get us through the tour in one piece and I could tell he was annoyed.
Some highlights of the walking tour:
The Seville cathedral used to be the main mosque in the city. Originally built in the 12th century by Muslims from Morocco, it was the largest mosque in the world. In the 13th century, it was transformed into a cathedral. There was an earthquake in the 14th century that destroyed much of the cathedral, and it was rebuilt in the 15th century. This amazing building is now the 3rd largest cathedral in the world. So much rich history.
Twenty percent of Christopher Columbus is buried in the Seville Cathedral. He died in Madrid, but he had strong ties to Seville because most of his trips started from the city. The river in Seville easily connects to the ocean, and it was easier to guard the city because of it’s position inland, so many excursions began in Seville. It is scientifically proven that part of his remains are in Seville.
The official residence of the Spanish King, the Real Alcazar is also in Seville. We spent the day here on Sunday.
There’s a dried up riverbed through the city of Seville, which is now home to lots of cats. These cats are a little mangy looking, and they somehow get into these little holes in the wall. Needless to say, it was prime viewing for the cat game we like to play.
We ended the tour at the Plaza de Espana, which was built in the 1920s to honor the different Spanish countries. It’s a huge open area with fountains and bridges and a building that wraps around. It it also where a part of Star Wars was filmed. Tyler wanted to reenact the scene, but unfortunately we were missing R2-D2. It was also chaos in this square, because all of the Valencia fans had flocked to the Plaza to take pictures of the tribute to Valencia.
After walking for hours in the hot sun, we were famished. Tyler found a few tapas places for us to try. Unfortunately, everything was crowded AF because of the futbol match. Somehow we squeezed our way to the bar at Casa Morales and ordered some tapas. As soon as we got some food, I was entertained by watching all of the crazy fans scream songs about their teams. It seemed like there were way more Valencia fans than Barcelona.
We hopped around to a few more places for food and drinks, sampling the local cuisine. I really enjoyed these little anchovy-like, deep fried fish that we had at Bodeguita Blanco Cerrillo.
After eating, we were in search of a nice rooftop bar to enjoy a beverage. We went to one and did not get any service for 30 minutes, so we backtracked to the one we had been to the night before and we were not disappointed. This time, we sat near the pool and had a great time.
The highlight of the night was an authentic flamenco show at Casa del Flamenco. It was a very intimate setting, with maybe only 30 people surrounding a small dance floor. The crew consisted of a guitarist, a singer, a male dancer, and a female dancer. They did different combinations of singing and dancing, as the crowd watched in awe. It’s such a beautiful style of dance.
Post flamenco show, our priority was to find somewhere to watch the game. We wanted to be in the chaos of the city. Nearby there was a little cafe that had a tv setup outside. So many people were gathered around watching and it seemed like a good atmosphere, so we pulled up a chair. Valencia won!
Because it was late and we hadn’t yet eaten, we walked to El Rinconcillo to get some dinner. The food was delicious and once again, we ate standing up at the bar.
Our flight was super late on Sunday, so we had the whole day to explore Seville. The Real Alcazar was our first stop. You could easily spend hours walking through this huge oasis. There’s an inside portion of the palace with intricately decorated rooms, and then massive gardens with fountains and flowers surrounding the courtyards. This was my favorite thing we saw in Seville, and I loved walking through the various rooms and gardens to see what surprises were hiding.
Pro tip: Be sure to book online in advance! If not, be prepared to wait in line for a looong time.
Hiding in one of the gardens was a peacock.
Hiding in another garden was a maze.
For lunch, we went to Restaurante Abades Triana, a place along the river with great views of the city. The food was delicious, but the atmosphere was a little stuffy. We enjoyed some wine and watched some row boats go by.
After lunch, really the only thing we had left to see was the inside of the cathedral. It was truly magnificent. Very intricate details everywhere and lots of stained glass windows.
At the end of the visit, we walked up the 35 ramps of the bell tower to see the city from the top of the cathedral. This was also a must do!
After touring the cathedral, we headed to the airport. Unfortunately our flight was delayed, so we ended up not getting back to Amsterdam until 2am. Such is the life of an avid traveler.