Tuesday, 15 December 2015

A long weekend in Seville

Things I learnt in Seville:

  • There are orange trees everywhere and the plump, colourful fruit looks delicious but don’t be tempted to eat one as they are in fact the bitter oranges used for making marmalade (I leant this the hard way!)
One of the many orange trees in Seville
  • Less is more when it comes to ordering tapas - it's better to order a second round if you're still hungry than have a mountain of food you can't manage!
  • I discovered I like sherry. Even more so at €2 a glass!

A great foodie scene, stunning  architecture, beautiful  weather and a maze of narrow, shady streets to get lost in, Seville really does have something for everyone. 

Seville is a small city meaning everywhere is accessible by foot (assuming you enjoy walking!) For those less inclined to walk, there are horses with old fashioned carts on every street corner ready to transport you to your next destination – the clip-clop of hooves are never far away!

There are many sights to see in Seville, here are some of our highlights:

The cathedral sits right in the city centre and it is a focal point both in terms of location and for its splendour and  grandeur.  It makes a great starting point for a day’s sightseeing and is also a useful navigation point if you get lost in the city’s narrow and winding streets.

The Alcazar Palace and Gardens are regularly cited as the top attraction in Seville. The intricate and ornate palace is a fantastic example of ‘mudéjar’ architecture and is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe. It features a beautiful domed ceiling, detailed mosaic patterns adorn every wall and the architecture is elaborate and decorative: the Alcazar palace never fails to impress.

The domed ceiling in the Alcazar Palace

The Alcazar courtyard

Equally lovely are the Alcazar gardens with its expansive, verdant and shady grounds, complete with the ubiquitous bitter orange trees, strutting peacocks and its sunny pergola.
Its free entry on a Monday between 4 and 5.

The pergola in the Alcazar Gardens

The Parasol Metropol is the world's largest wooden structure and is a cross between a sculpture and a viewing platform with walkways, offering panoramas of the city in every direction. It is especially good to visit as the sun goes down. 
Don't forget to exchange your ticket for a free drink in one of the bars on the street outside afterwards!

The Parasol Metropol

Built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929, today the Plaza de España houses mainly Government buildings but it is most famous for being one of the filming locations for the Star Wars films! That fact aside, it has always attracted visitors in their droves and when you see it you'll understand why. The spectacular buildings with canal, bridges and fountains set against the blue sky backdrop is stunning and well worth a stroll to this part of town.

Plaza de Espana

Seville is also famous for its great foodie scene and wherever you are in the city, you’re never far from a tapas bar. Some of my favourite dishes were grilled sardines, risotto, pig cheeks – and not forgetting the ubiquitous ‘patatas bravas’, a staple of any tapas spread.

Start with a sundowner on Calle Betis. From the Torre d'oro, cross over the bridge, walk along the river and take your pick from the many riverside bars and restaurants, each with a view out over the river and city.

Calle Mateos Gago in the heart of the city centre is a lively street filled with shops, bars and restaurants and is a good place to start if you’re looking for a bite to eat. The locals tend to eat late and restaurants soon fill up so it’s worth making a reservation if you've got your heart set on a particular restaurant. Otherwise, grab a drink and wait for a table to come available.

Worth the wait was a table at Mama Bistro (http://azahar-sevilla.com/sevilletapas/tag/mama-bistro/), where everything from the home-made bread to the service – and not forgetting the main attraction: the meal – was exceptional.

Sardines and hollandaise at Mama Bistro

Also try Mamarracha for good, authentic local food and check out the funky vertical garden inside: http://mamarracha.es

The Alameda de Hercules is an avenue lined with bars to the north of the city centre and is also great for pre-dinner drinks. Try a local sherry (jerez), sweet orange wine (vino de naranja) or a drop of the local red wine – it’s local production means you’ll rarely pay more than a few Euros for a glass.

Sherry at the Alameda de Hercules

We spent 3 nights/4 days staying in an Airbnb penthouse studio apartment in central Seville, a stone's throw from the cathedral with a gorgeous sunny roof terrace affording us fantastic views out across the city. Its 3rd storey location meant it was high enough above the hubbub of the lively bars on the street below to not be distracted by the noise of revellers below and we were able to get a peaceful night’s sleep.

The view from our penthouse apartment

So in summary, go to Seville! It’s a lovely compact city, perfect for soaking up the sunshine and the atmosphere, sampling the local cuisine and is a great place to get away for a few nights.