The home of flamenco and oranges was the final leg of our 2011 Spanish tour that had started in Santiago de Compostela, continued with an overnight train to Madrid and then saw us speed on ultra-modern AVE trains to Cordoba & Cadiz before our arrival at Sevilla’s impressive modern train station.
We rented a small apartment in the old town and immediately felt like we had arrived in a truly authentic Spain. Our neighbourhood was a bustling area where locals shopped, played ball games, hung out their washing and just hung out. So much better than a cleansed hotel stuffed with tourists.
We had a lot to pack into three days, so started with the Alcazar, not dissimilar to its namesake in Cordoba and the wonderful big brother Alhambra. On a recurring theme, we were again treated to intricate Arabian architecture and immaculate manicured gardens, with paths leading off in all directions and small fountains with waters sparkling in the 40 degree heat.
Time for a drink and to experience the common Sevilian occurrence of being sprayed with fine cooling water as we consumed our beverages. Very thoughtful and most welcome.
During our visit we also took in the simply enormous cathedral, visited the ceramics district of Triana across the bridge from the centre, which is stuffed full of shops selling colourful homeware, took a boat trip down the splendidly named Guadalquivir River, viewed the beautiful bullring & the 13th century Gold Tower (Torre del Oro) and generally enjoyed strolling the pretty streets.
This was all great, but for once architecture or natural beauty were not the highlight of our stay. Two things really stand out as enduring memories:
Flamenco – we visited the hugely enjoyable flamenco museum with exhibits including a gallery of photographs showing dance stars from several eras, paintings depicting the passion and drama of the art form, plus costumes worn by flamenco royalty. The highlight was served last. A stunning flamenco show put on by some of the best exponents of the art anywhere in the world. The dancers stamped and flailed through some highly energetic routines, the ladies beautiful flowing dresses creating a whirl of motion in orange, red and black. The guitarist was clearly a highly accomplished musician as his hands kept time with the whirling dervishes front stage. This was flamenco at its absolute best, highlighting the amateurish shows we had enjoyed in Cordoba & Cadiz – and we had thought they were good too! Thankfully we saved the undoubted master until last.
Tapas – we ate in two of the oldest tapas bars in Spain, a real food event on both occasions. The first was called El Rinconcillo and the second Las Teresas.
El Rinconcillo is said to have opened in 1670 and purports to be the oldest restaurant in Spain. Whether that is precisely true or not, the place just oozed atmosphere. We stood at the bar to eat and drink and the food was wonderful. Waiters and bar staff were really attentive despite being very busy, never resting for a moment. Each dish we consumed had its price chalked up on the bar in front of us, to be totted up when it was time for us to reluctantly leave. Las Teresas also had hams hanging from the ceilings and was equally atmospheric. The quails eggs on toast remains one of my favourite ever dishes.
So there you have it, second favourite Spanish city on my highly competitive list. Just writing these words makes me want to be in Seville right now, feeling alive and invigorated just like 4 years ago.