Saturday, June 20, 2015

Seville, More Than Oranges

I had been wanting to go to Seville since my first trip to Europe, but didn't have time for it. I was really looking forward to spending a few days in what I heard was one of the prettiest cities in Spain. I'd now argue that it is one of the prettiest in Europe.

The train to Seville from Madrid is just 2 1/2 hours and we practically had the car in Preferenté class to ourselves.

A quick cab from the train station took us to the 5* Hotel Alfonso XIII. This hotel was absolutely stunning. As it was August, when most people don't travel in southern Spain, I had gotten some great deals using for our hotels. Our room, on the 3rd floor, was huge! Marble bathroom, king size bed, chandelier, and a large balcony with a view of the Cathedral next door. And of course a wonderful pool area for a daily dip. Easily one of my favorite places I have ever stayed.

Did I mention the hotel's bar, Bar Americano? Awesome cocktails, and the perfect place for an evening nightcap.

Seville is a stunning city, especially at night when the buildings are lit up. It is very easy to walk around -- we never took a cab, but you can take a horse and carriage if you like -- and places were easy to find. Plaza Espanol is especially pretty!

A morning spent at the Real Alcazar is a must. From the moment you enter you are completely surrounded by the most beautiful gardens and architecture. I'd never seen anything like it in my life. Pictures just don't do it justice.

You'll want to be done by lunch as the heat is shocking. There is a lovely shaded square behind the Alcazar called Plaza de Dona Elvira that we enjoyed some refreshing gazpacho in.

I also loved walking across the bridge to the Triana area. This side of the Guadalquivir River has an interesting past and its residents feel they are separate from Seville. Unique. It reminded me of how residents of the 18th in Paris feel. We visited the Mercato and stocked up on jamon iberico, witnessed people queuing up and being interviewed for a restaurant job while having lunch at Las Golondrinas II (the Spanish unemployment rate in Aug of 2013 was over 25%), and shopped in the tile and ceramic district, one of the main things Triana is known for.
Crossing back over the Puente de Triana we walked past Seville's bullring which dates back to 1749.

Seville Cathedral is another eye candy stop. Chambers, alters, and chapels prove the city's past wealth. There are rooms completely filled with silver, gold, and bronze display items. Climbing the ramps and steps to the top of the Giralda (tower) gives you stunning views of the city.

A lot of the normally recommended restaurants were closed for the August holidays, but we still found deliciousness. As always, the only bad food we had was when we sat down at a restaurant that had the menu in every language and included pictures. Our own fault. La Autigua Bodeguita was very fun and served delicious trendy tapas like mini hamburguesas. It's just a tiny stand up place where people spilled out into the Plaza del Salvador with their wine and beer.

Las Teresas is another very old school style tapas bar. Its got a great atmosphere for a sit down dinner. Highlights here were the whole grilled mushrooms (champion plancha), fantastically tender octopus (pulpo), and meaty tuna collar(morrillo de atún).

Vineria San Telmo was perfect for a little nicer and modern style tapas dinner. It is very popular so we strolled around the neighborhood, which is incredibly lively, during our 45 minute wait. An amazing oxtail in phyllo, queso fundito, and banoffe pie were standouts.

We also had dinner at the highly recommended Meson de la Infanta which was good but not excellent. The space however is very cool.

I loved everything about this city and will look forward to visiting it again some day!

All photos of Seville are here.
Jerez is also an easy day trip from here.

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