When you’re in Seville, you see “NO8DO” literally everywhere. On cars, on poles in the streets, in the pavement. It’s Seville’s motto given to the city by King Fernando III in the 13th century, and it’s so incredibly fitting. It means “No me ha dejado,” or “Seville, you have not left/abandoned me.” And since I left Seville after studying in 2011, I’ve thought about the city almost daily. No exaggeration.
|La Catedral & La Giralda // 2013|
I think I have more emotional attachment to Seville than to my hometown of Frisco. I learned so much while I was there, and not just the language. I was lucky enough to go over with my best friend and live with an amazing host family. Seville is where I found my passion for traveling, an appreciation for slowing down and actually enjoying life, a more profound understanding of different cultures, and where I met some of the most incredible people I’ve ever known, including my boyfriend. We ate, drank, siesta-ed, laughed, traveled, spoke Spanglish, and would walk the city for sometimes hours on end. It was hands-down the best four months of my life, and I was so thankful to return last summer for a week to visit Lexi.
|Bar Chile // 2013|
The city is enchanting and full of rich and fascinating history. Narrow, winding streets that when a car or vespa comes zooming by, you have to jump onto the curb and lean up against buildings to make room. Hundreds of tiny tapas bars that are occupied almost constantly by locals of all ages sipping Cruzcampo, vino, or cafe con leche, while snacking on jamon serrano, cheese, and olives. The flamenco and sevillanas (music and dance native to Seville) bars that are quietly tucked away, but vibrant when you step inside. The Triana barrio (neighborhood) on the other side of the river. Hearing the chants and songs as you get closer to Estadio Rámon Sánchez-Pizjuan during a Sevilla FC game. The beautiful orange tree-lined streets leading up to the Cathedral and La Giralda. And, of course, the actual Cathedral (which was originally a mosque) and La Giralda, especially lit up at night.
Sevillanos know how to have a good time, too. Whether you’re going down by the Guadalquivir (or río) to botellón — drink in the streets — during the day with the local university students, or drinking giant 5 euro mojitos into the early morning at Alfalfa after enjoying 70 cent glasses of vino tinto, there’s never a dull moment.
|Official beer of Sevilla, Cruzcampo // 2011|
I think one of the things I loved most about Seville was the people and their way of life. My sweet and adorable host mom told me one time at dinner (which is served at about 10:30 or 11:00 p.m.) how Americans live to work, and the Spanish, especially Sevillanos, work to live. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what she said, considering it was all in Spanish. But, it’s so true – I really think Sevillanos have a greater appreciation of life, which is unfortunately probably why the Spanish economy declined so severely. Their lifestyle might take some getting used to, though – when out to dinner, you usually have the table for the night, and since the waiters don’t work on tips, there’s no need to rush you out the door (this is generally true about the majority of Europe). The majority of stores close between approximately 2 – 5 p.m. for lunch and siesta, and everything is closed on Sundays. Overall, it’s a much more relaxed atmosphere, which I took full advantage of while there.
|Corrida de toros // 2011|
|Corrida de toros // 2011|
If you have the chance to travel, especially to Spain, I cannot recommend Sevilla enough! It can get pretty hot during the summer, so I would go in the spring or fall. It’s a large enough city, but at the same time, small and authentic. Sevilla will forever hold a special place in my heart, and I hope to visit it as much as possible. Below is a (very condensed) list of some of my favorite things to do in Sevilla. Stay tuned for Lexi’s post as she recaps her favorites!
- Restaurante San Marco Santa Cruz: delicious Italian restaurant in an old Arab bath house near the Cathedral. The food and the building are amazing, but you definitely need reservations for dinner!
- Restaurante Aladdin: the BEST mediterranean food. I mean, seriously. Delicious kebabs, falafel, hummus, pita, etc. My Nana, who used to live in Kurdistan, said it’s some of the best she’s had outside of Iraq. So, don’t take my word for it, take hers.
- Cafe D’Arthe: the cutest little cafe that was located by the Tech center and owned by one of our tutor’s families. My friends and I went daily, sometimes multiple times per day. THE best tostadas con aceite or mantequilla – traditional Spanish breakfast.
- Pollos Asados: delicious bocadillos and patatas bravas. It’s a tiny place you can get bocadillos to-go (para llevar), as well as rotisserie chickens and some other sides. You can see (and smell) the chickens roasting from afar. I always ordered a chicken bocadillo with both sauces (a garlicky sauce, and a spicy red sauce).
- Bar Alfalfa: small little corner bar not far from Plaza de Alfalfa, definitely a spot for locals, too.
- Rooftop terrace @ Hotel Doña Maria: I think this probably has the best view in all of Sevilla. Located right across from the Cathedral, you can go to the top of the hotel and relax and have drinks & tapas. The view at night is absolutely stunning.
- La Cava del Europa: great little bar/tapas place we basically lived at when we first arrived. If Fernando is still there, he’s the greatest.
- Cerveceria Internacional: exactly what it sounds like. Giant collection of international beers.
- Basically anywhere that has napkins on the ground and local Spanish people drinking/eating before, during, or after work.
- All of the döner kebab places….all of them.
- Bar Chile: an awesome bar/small discoteca near the river. It’s definitely a place for the locals, so if you go and you stick out like a tourist/American, they might not let you in. So, speak Spanish (if you can), or go with someone who does. If you do get in, it’s a lot of fun, plus by the number of locals, you know you’re at a good place.
- Calle Betis: all of the bars are so much fun. It’s located right along the river, so it’s beautiful at night, too.
- Club Buddha: probably Sevilla’s most popular discoteca. It’s a lot of fun, but can get pretty expensive. There’s also a rather strict dress code (for guys at least), and they made us show our passports to get in. But, you have to go at least once.
- Plaza de la Alfalfa: all of the bars here, too. This would be one of our first stops of the night. There are a ton of places and people drinking in the streets. We would stop here first, grab a giant mojito or cerveza and continue walking to Calle Betis.
- La Feria de Abril: only takes place for a week in April (sometimes May), but it is the biggest festival in Seville, and one of the biggest in Spain. There’s dancing, drinks, food, all into the early hours of the morning. The typical drink of Feria is a rebujito, made with manzanilla, and let me tell you from experience, drink these with caution. Our program director warned us, we ignored him, and then we had the absolute worst hangovers of our lives. You can get a rebujito year-round at bars if you really must try it. Feria takes place on fairgrounds and the grounds are lined with casetas (little tents) – it’s sort of like Oktoberfest in the sense that you have to have reservations or be invited into a lot of them. There are some public ones, but the best ones are invitation-only. It’s something you’ll never forget.
- La Catedral y La Giralda: absolutely a must. The climb to the top of La Giralda might be considered a pain, but it’s so worth it.
- Real (Royal) Alcázar: the beautiful, beautiful palace located near the Cathedral. Worth touring it and the amazing gardens! (TripAdvisor rated this the #1 thing to do in Seville)
- Plaza de España: stunning plaza across from the Parque de María Luisa. There are also quite a few government buildings here. Fun fact: several movies, including Star Wars, have been filmed here! Take a picnic and soak it all in.
- Triana: unique neighborhood on the other side of the river. Take half of the day to walk around and see a different side of Sevilla!
- Metropol Parasol: aka “las setas” or “the mushrooms.” This is the largest wooden structure in the world, and also caused a little bit of controversy while it was being built. You’ve probably never seen anything like it before, and it’s a stark contrast from what the rest of the city looks like. You can eat and shop at the bottom, or go to the top for stunning views of the city. When there are big soccer games, they’re broadcast here and draw a large crowd.
- Plaza de Toros: where the bullfights take place. Try not to knock bullfighting until you’ve seen it or learned more about it. It may seem gruesome, but it really is an art and the matadors are quite theatrical. They also give all the bull meat to the homeless/hungry. It’s really not that bad, I promise!
- University of Seville: this used to be the royal tobacco factory, and it’s a beautiful building.
- Estadio Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan: try to go to a Sevilla FC game if you can! (or Real Betis at their stadium) If you think you don’t like soccer, you need to go to a European game. The passion that pours out of the fans and the players is electrifying. Plus, Sevilla is in La Liga, so Spanish power houses like FC Barcelona and Real Madrid come here to play (word to the wise: do NOT wear opposing team’s scarves/jerseys/etc. Green Street Hooligans is a real thing, y’all).
- Hotel Alfonso XIII (pricey, but Brad Pitt has stayed here, so…)
- Hotel Amadeus
- Hotel Doña Maria
- Hotel Fernando III
- Hotel Rey Alfonso X
|Rooftop views // 2011|
|Metropol Parasol // 2013|