¡Beinvenidos en Seville! A city over 2200 years old, home to one of the world’s largest Gothic style cathedrals and built on the side of the Guadalquivir River, we were armed with backpacks and ready to explore!
No hostels this time around!
In the last six months we’ve spent quite a large amount of time living in hostels; some have been fantastic, others not so much. For Seville we’d searched for hostels, however they were all rather expensive, or full; instead, we’d opted for an AirBnB - we were going to have an entire apartment to ourselves!
We’d got ourselves from the bus station to our apartment then we needed to wait an hour or so, on the side of the road for the owner to show up. Not having data on our phones hasn’t been too problematic on the way around as most places have free wifi in big public areas (parks etc.), though situations like today’s were an exception where some data would have been really useful! We were eventually able to get hold of the owners and settled ourselves in for a quiet night, both of us were starting to get very sick - a combination of 120 000 tonne of tomatoes, little sleep and moving around frequently was starting to take it’s toll on us. Our AirBnB hosts were wonderful, when we’d settled they showed us around, gave us a bus card and showed us where to catch it to and from, and took us to the supermarket to grab a few things… We were set, and well and truly ready to go to bed!
Oh the sickness…
Friends and family, it’s best you start writing obituaries for us. Sick is an understatement. So much so, that on Tuesday we made it as far as the supermarket to get food for the night and then spent the rest of the day resting. I’m not sure what disease it is that we’d succumbed to but there were multiple infections going on and we needed a break. We did however cook a delicious dinner of grilled calamari, mussels in garlic tomato sauce and some prawns with a sneaky glass of wine thrown in.
Walking, and walking, and walking
OK, so we may have over-exaggerated the extent of our illnesses, but that’s not to say we weren’t unwell. Dee’s ears were blocked, probably with some left-over tomato and James had very little sleep. We were not the happiest of chappies together but we were going to make it through Seville alive. We decided that getting a little bit of sunshine and fresh air would probably do us some good so we caught the bus in toward the historic centre and explore a little bit. On top of the fever sweats we were both experiencing, and a severe lack of coffee, we navigated ourselves toward the parliament - this was fine in theory except that the offline Google maps hadn’t located us properly and sent us on a wild goose chase around Seville. With this, add in a little of Dee’s Female Map Disorder and James’ unwillingness to ever ask anyone EVER for directions, we were having a great morning.
Hours later, and finally with our picture in front of the parliament we were back on speaking terms and went to explore a little more. By this point we’d walked a good ten kilometres and were hungry for some lunch. We had read about a really cute little place called Kababi who were supposed to have phenominal food; again, armed with Google maps we walked another who knows how long only to find out that the restaurant no longer exists. We paced the same street ten times to try and find it, instead we ended up at another restaurant for some very unreasonably priced but delicious tapas of fish, morcilla and spring rolls.
We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring a few of the little parks in the area, no longer relying on Google Maps as it was likely to lead to us getting a divorce. We then found our bus stop and headed back to our apartment for some delicious roast chicken and a few games of cards. It’s difficult to keep a good track of time here, not that it’s necessary when you don’t have anywhere to be, however the sun doesn’t set until nearly 10:00pm so the body clock is a little out of whack.
Another day, another palace!
After booking online, and then hunting around for somewhere to print out our tickets, Thursday was the day to go and visit the Alcazar, which we had been told was definitely worth seeing. The Alcazar is a royal palace that has been built in various stages by different people - parts of it are from the 13th century but most of it is newer. Some sections are still used by the Spanish royal family when they are in Seville, making it the oldest royal palace that is still being used today.
When we got there, the line to go inside was huge, almost 100m long, but luckily there was a second line (with no-one in it) for people who had online tickets. On the way in, we were reminded that we needed to be at the entrance to the high floor 15 minutes before the time shown on our tickets - access to that part is tightly controlled, just like the Nazrid palace at the Alhambra. The palace itself is beautiful, there are lots of rooms and courtyards, as well as a massive sitting garden behind it, unfortunately we couldn’t take any photos inside the living quarters of the Alcázar and weren’t able to take in our cameras. In saying that, what we could take photos of were stunning: mosaic tiled walls, intricate carvings and archways filled with beautiful colours. In total we’d spent around three hours looking through the palace and admiring the Moorish architecture; we could easily have spent the whole day there looking around.
After spending majority of the day getting to and looking inside the palace we stopped in for a quick lunch before wandering through the streets around the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See. The Seville Cathedral is the third largest church in the world and was completed in the early 16th Century. The cathedral was built to exhibit Seville’s wealth, which with an area of over 11 500 square metres wasn’t hard to do. The most impressive part of the cathedral is it’s 105 metre tall bell tower which was originally the minaret before the Reconquista when the Christians seized the building. Many people have been buried inside the cathedral (as you do?), the most notable is Christopher Columbus… and there was a bunch of random facts for you.
A day at Plaza España
It has been quite interesting coming from South America into Spain, the similarities are astounding, however the Moorish influence in Spain is evident in nearly every building we’ve seen. One of Seville’s more prominent sites to visit behind the Alcázar is Plaza de España, a huge semi-circle of buildings, accessible via a moat that was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Surrounded by a beautiful inner-city garden and representative of the four ancient kingdoms of Spain, the buildings of the plaza are decorated with mosaic tiles and alcoves - each with the crest of every province in Spain. The photos really don’t give a fair indication of just how big this area is, and how beautiful the designs are… you really should visit it!
After spending a few hours walking around the plaza and through the gardens we made our way to the Torre del Oro and naval museum. The inside of the building isn’t particularly exciting; it has a small amount of naval history written mostly in Spanish along with some exhibits. The building itself on the other hand was quite interesting to see. The ‘Tower of Gold’ was originally built as a watchtower early in the 13th Century and through the years has served as a prison, and then eventually turned into a maritime museum.
It’s been quite exciting to be able to have our own kitchen in our apartment, we don’t have to share with anyone and we can cook whenever we want without having to clean everything the second it’s been used. While in Seville we’ve had a fair attempt at trying to make our own dinners with limited supplies to try and save a little money… we’ve managed to have meat and cheese platters, Caesar salads with smoked pork, stuffed mushrooms and chicken mushroom stir-fry… one could say that we are doing ok with meals while backpacking, we are yet to have two minute noodles! We’ve also been fortunate enough to find very good wine at the supermarket for less than $5, cheap and easy date nights at home have been good :)
Though we’d been cooking a lot for ourselves we also had to try some of the local delicacies on our way around. For Saturday’s round of investigating Seville we wound up with some of the most delicious churros we’d ever eaten at this giant sunshade thing, also known as Metropol Parasol. This piece of ummm art (?) in the old quarter is the largest wooden structure in the world with dimensions of 150x70 metres and standing at a varying height of around 26 metres. At a blowout cost of 100 million Euros it’s not difficult to see why it caused a little controversy with the locals who’ve funnily enough nicknamed it ‘Incarnation’s Mushrooms). Though the structure isn’t the most attractive of public art the churros stall off the side was definitely worth the visit to, for less than 3 euros you get a plate of freshly made churros, delicious chocolate and a good cup of coffee (or in Dee’s case a nice glass of wine). Treat yo’self!
We spent much of the afternoon getting lost in the narrow streets and numerous plazas around the area, taking it all in. Some of the alleys have little hidey-hole coffee shops and restaurants, others house rubbish bins or shops, if you’re looking for something specific having a map wouldn’t be a bad idea. In one of the narrow alleys we stumbled across a fairly decent looking restaurant whose barbecue smells wafted down the street, luring us straight in. We settled in for some more wine, some barbecued shellfish and a steak skewer that hung in the air… Food for the win! (or wine as autocorrect has recommended).
It’s safe to say that we have been loving Spain so far, although both of us have been quite unwell with the tomato disease, the food and wine have been making up for it. Unfortunately it was time to leave Spain on Sunday and move onto Portugal, you’d be surprised to know that we were sans hangover and managed to pack for our bus to Lagos!
Go see all the photos from Seville