We left Granada by train to head to Seville. Such a nice way to travel. It was only about two hours and we could read and relax while we passed by small towns. When we got the Seville the weather was amazing, much warmer than Granada. Once again, we lucked out on the place we rented in this great town. It was probably the nicest place we have stayed thus far. Not only was it huge, which is nice with 6 people, but it was literally in the middle of Barrio Santa Cruz. This is the area that was the former Jewish Quarter of the medieval city. Its winding, narrow, cobblestone streets invite you to get lost among the small restaurants and little shops. Also in the midst of this neighborhood, is the cathedral, the Giralda, and the Alcazar. So, we didn’t have to do much besides leave our house and we were in the middle of all things one might want to see while in Seville. We even had a beautiful view of the Giralda.
We stayed 5 days and probably could have stayed 10. This town is so inviting and it was great because Dave’s mom lived here a few years ago while she was studying Spanish. Therefore, we had a built in tour guide. It’s a university town and had a young, hip vibe. There were people walking around at all hours – although less in the early mornings when I went on my walks. We were near the Plaza de la Alianza which looked to me like a movie set. The buildings were painted in soft colors (picture not great) and the plaza was lined with horse drawn carriages waiting to take you on a tour of the city.
And we did take a carriage ride one day to Plaza de Espana. This is one thing I definitely remember from the trip Dave and I took years ago. It is a huge plaza that was built for the Ibero-American Exposition in 1929. The girls were excited to go because it was a movie location for Star Wars Attack of the Clones. I loved the railings that were made from beautiful Spanish pottery and the walls that were lined with tiled alcoves for each Spanish province.
We spent many days wandering the streets of Seville and of course resting when we could. When traveling with kids, one can’t forget to give them down time – probably more than we would like, but you can’t push them too much. We found the girls favorite store, LUSH, while we were there, so a couple of afternoons were spent having spa days.
Dave and I wandered the streets around the apartment, which bordered the Alcazar. Quiet and quaint.
We visited the school where Norma went, which was cool to see. And of course we had to go have churros and chocolate where she used to go, Dona Carmen.
One thing we were told to do while in Seville was to see a flamenco show, so we did. We chose Casa del Flamenco which had good reviews, a small space and was close to our house. We were not disappointed. We got in line early so that we were in the front row and the girls loved it! So did we. There were two dancers, a singer and a guitarist. All were amazing. It is a true art form – so intricate and emotional. Both dancers were great, but the male did a solo that was incredible – incredibly fast footwork!
We finally made it to the cathedral our last day. It was a very different church, all broken up into different altars. Christopher Columbus is buried there. But what we really wanted to do was climb to the top of the Giralda. This was originally built as a minaret during the moorish period, but was converted to the bell tower of the Seville Cathedral. You walk up a ramp made for horses to get to the top for some amazing views of the city. In one picture, you can see the bull ring in the distance.
Street performers were pretty good in Seville. A head that made noises, faceless musicians, but my favorite being Jesus – see the pictures below. He is human like all others 🙂 After carrying his cross, he needed a smoke break and had to check his facebook account. Jesus is truly my homeboy.
And what would a blog be without mention of food and restaurants. We were lucky enough to have a friend from Moraga, Allison, who had recently studied in Seville. She and her mom, who had visited her, each gave us a list of some of their favorite places. While we would have loved to try them all, we didn’t get a chance, but we did try some good ones. We were only two blocks from Bodega, so we hit that the day we arrived. It was a quiet afternoon there and we were able to get a table. We ordered based on Allison’s recommendations – berenjas con miel – honey and eggplant, flamenquin, pollo con salsa – it was all delicious! And I discovered something better than sangria – tinto de verano – delicious wine and lemonade spritzer. The Bodega gets pretty crowded during meal times with people standing and waiters shouting orders. Dave’s mom and I went down one afternoon and stood at the bar and were in the thick of it all. Thankfully she spoke spanish, so we did alright.
Dave and I also got a date night and went to Ovejas Negras. We loved it!! Thankfully we got there when it opened at 8pm, because a list grew quickly for people waiting to get a table or our seat at the bar. We had mushroom risotto, pork cheeks, Galician beef, and ceviche. Including 4 drinks the whole dinner was 36 euros.
We did venture from Spanish food a couple of nights and hit a delicious Italian restaurant – l’Oca Giuliva. After being in Spain for over 4 weeks, we needed something different. Very good if you get a chance and also gets crowded. One night we had to sit outside since the inside tables were all reserved, but that turned out to be a good thing. We were front row to watch the men practice for Semana Santa – the week leading up to Easter, a very important holiday in Europe. We saw the men practice carrying the “pasos,” or floats, through the streets. There are 30 men – “costaleros” – wearing back braces that climb under the float and walk very slowly and carefully down the street for miles on Easter. This is quite an honor. These floats are massive and on Easter are beautifully decorated.
We were sad to leave, but had to head to Madrid in order to get the overnight train to Lisbon to visit my cousins.