Sunday, July 15, 2012

Seville

Sevilla, like Granada, is another city in Andalucía. In English the spelling of Sevilla is "Seville," but I will continue referring to it as Sevilla sometimes because cuando en España...


Robin and I got to Sevilla on Sunday morning at around noon after a 3ish hour train ride from Granada - the absolute worst time to get to any southern city in Spain. To use one of Erica's phrases, it was balls hot.


Sevilla is a much more modern city than Granada by many standards (for one, they have a metro system and a high-speed train that goes there), so we were able to get a map in the train station and walk to our pensión in about 25 minutes. On the way there we saw a cool structure in the old quarter that looked like it had been lasercut and press-fit together.
It was designed by a German architect and claims to be the largest wooden structure in the world. 

sleep

This time, we stayed in a pensión a bit north of the old town called the Pensión Nuevo Pino. It was the cheapest place I could find on Expedia - about 40 euros for one night, with some semblance of breakfast included. It also claimed to have air conditioning, but what they really meant was a fan. We had our own private bathroom and unlimited tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. As long as you didn't open the window, the room was more or less comfortable to sleep in. The pillows were small, which I liked a lot, seeing as I don't sleep with a pillow half the time anyway. Robin disagrees of course, but you can't agree on everything. 

Seville

Seville is the place where most of the journeys of the great Spanish explorers started - as a port city (but not on the ocean), Seville was powerful back in the day, and has a large city center and a large cathedral to show for it. The city today is known for it's bullfights and it's flamenco. 

An few interesting factoids about it's Santa Cruz neighborhood:
  • The words "Santa Cruz" literally mean "Holy Cross", but the neighborhood used to be a Jewish ghetto. During the Christian Reconquista, the Jews were expelled and the neighborhood was renamed to be something more Christian. 
  • It's winding streets and alleyways are tightly packed, and some claim that the average temperature on the streets in Santa Cruz is a few degrees cooler than the rest of Seville. 
  • The walls are whitewashed to reflect the sun's rays from the buildings to keep them cool. A good thing for the buildings, a not-so-good thing for the pedestrians.
We arrived in Seville with the intention of seeing the Cathedral (the largest in Spain), the Plaza de España (where a scene from Star Wars Episode 1 was shot), and a flamenco show at a place recommended to me by a co-worker. We accomplished at least 2 of these 3 things. 

the cathedral

Was indeed the biggest in all of Spain.
and the views from the top let us see the Bullring that we knew we weren't going to get a chance to see. 

Plaza de España

I'm a bad nerd and haven't seen all of Star Wars (I have seen one - I'm slowly being educated), so I can't substantiate the claims that Robin makes when he says that seeing a place where something from Episode 1 was shot doesn't mean too much. I just think it looks pretty. 
At this point it was so hot that all we wanted was a nice cold glass of tinto de verano somewhere in the shade. Walking back past the cathedral, we stopped at a place to grab a quick glass of tinto. We realized it was slightly cheaper just to get an entire pitcher, so we sat at the cafe outside doing some people-watching (or lack thereof - there was no one on the streets this time of day) and enjoying the shade and the cool drink. 

Here in the south, it is customary to get a plate of olives with your drink, so we did just that and were very satisfied with our choice. 

flamenco and food, derp.

After a nice siesta at the pensión that lasted for hours because it was still super hot outside, we woke up with hunger so decided to grab food and then catch a flamenco show. We were aiming for this place that was recommended to me by a co-worker and we ended up finding it. While we were walking towards it we kept turning a twisty-turny corner to come upon a small plaza with a restaurant and bar, surrounded by very residential buildings. It was interesting to compare it to the bustling Madrid, where there is no such thing as a street without a bar or convenience store. 

We walked past the bar with flamenco because we were absolutely famished, but not after looking in and deciding that the place was in fact hopping with action. We found a restaurant on the square just around the corner from the flamenco bar, ordering way too much food for either of us to eat. A half-portion of steak was 4 pieces of steak... there was no way we could get through all that. We also got a plate of paella and some veggies (since the Spaniards really don't like their veggies...). Needless to say, we were filled to the brim without eating half the food we'd ordered. But costing the same as all of our other meals and getting twice that amount of food led us to determine that the food in Sevilla is cheap!

After dinner it was getting late, but we were willing to give the flamenco place another go. Walking in, we see that there was a crowd of people, but it was unclear where they were going and what they were doing. Although the throngs of people filling the inner patio should have been a good indication that we should have stayed to see what was going on. Exhausted from an entire day of oppressive heat, we decided to call it a night.