Friday, November 2, 2012

Sevilla: Southern Spanish Charm in the Capital of Andalucia

The day after my birthday, we continued to celebrate with a quick, weekend excursion to Sevilla, Spain. Sevilla is the capital of the Spanish "state" of Andalucia." The trip started off with a bang. We woke up just about the time that our train was pulling out of the station. We shot out of bed, threw the remaining items in our bags and raced to the train station. We obviously were too late for the train we had tickets for but were hoping to get on the next one out since we only had one night in Sevilla. We made it on the next train and luckily didn't lose much time to explore the southern Spanish town, but we had to totally repurchase our departure tickets at full face value. That was a pretty big bummer, but since we couldn't do anything about it, we decided not to dwell on it and still enjoyed our trip.

Brief history lesson: Sevilla was under the rule of the Moors, Muslims from North Africa, during the 8th to 13th centuries. As we roamed through the Alcazar (Royal Palace) and gazed up at the Giralda bell tower in the center of the old town, you could certainly see the influence that this culture had on the architecture of Sevilla. We enjoyed touring the palace, where we saw tons of beautiful Spanish brides and grooms posing for pictures, and listened to an audio guide complete with impersonations of the old Kings. Despite the amusing voices, I did learn that the Alcazar in Sevilla is the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

The front courtyard of the Alcazar.

Another courtyard within the Alcazar.

Gold ceiling.

Bride #1.

Bride #2.

One of the many beautiful royal rooms.

Bride #3.
After checking off the must see attractions in Sevilla, we mainly just wandered around. We stopped in a small, packed cerveceria that seemed to be filled with locals, where we talked Luke talked, and I tried to follow along, with a local Sevilliano couple. 

One of the cute narrow streets.

I loved the colors in Sevilla.

The Giralda.
Nuestros amigos de Sevilla.

We were a little nervous when our new lady friend offered to take a picture of us. It seemed she'd been in the bar for quite some time, and our camera is new and expensive. :)
We learned from our new friends that Sevilla is known for their religious festivals, especially those taking place during Semana Santa (the holy week leading up to Easter), and that there was a similar type of parade taking place that evening. After leaving the bar, we hurried across the bridge to the other side of the Guadalquivir river to catch a glimpse of the parade.

Crossing the river. These colors reminded me of Molly's nursery!

Beautiful sunset from the other side of the Guadalquivir.

All of the people lined up for the parade of the Virgin Mary.

Here she comes.

The Virgin Mary in color pop.

And there she goes.

The Giralda at dusk from the other side of the river.
After the parade, we set off for a little tapa hopping. Prepared with some recommendations that Luke had gotten from one of his Sevillana co-workers, we headed straight for Mariscos Emilios, which was nothing fancy but had amazing shrimp, pulpo and salmon, and then to Volapie, where we had the Spanish staples of jamon and manchego along with Rabo de Torro that the bartender recommended. We finished off the night at A Lo Nuestro where we listened to live music and watched locals dance the famous Sevillana dance. We didn't make it to a rooftop terrace for a view of the city at night, but we did enjoy seeing the Giralda all lit up as we made our way back to the hotel.

Salmon at Mariscos Emilio.

Gambas at Mariscos Emilio.

Pulpo at Mariscos Emilio. My favorite of the three, but all were awesome. 

Slicing our jamon at Volapie. 
The Giralda at night.
Before we returned to Madrid on Sunday, we went on a short tour of the historical bull fighting rink and made a loop through the Plaza de Espana. We wished that we'd been able to attend a bull fight while in Sevilla. Although it's gory and becoming more controversial these days, it's such a large part of the Spanish history and culture that we want to experience it just once while we're living here.

The relatively small bull ring.

Sevilla's Plaza de Espana built for the 1929 World's Fair.
With the high speed Ave, Sevilla is only 2.5 hours from Madrid, which makes it an easy weekend get-a-way, and is certainly worth adding to your Spanish itinerary!

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