If you ask anyone in Spain where people are the warmest (in all senses of the word), they´ll tell you about Sevilla. Its widely proclaimed that the lifestyle, in Andalucia as a whole and Sevilla in particular, is more jovial and laid back than in other parts of the country.
I took this with a grain of salt but after a visit around Christmas, I think I believe it. While we were there, we´d see throngs of people break into song and dance out of nowhere. We´d hear a chorus of voices singing together in a bar, and these weren´t drunken wailings either, just regular folks singing along together. For some reason, everyone in Sevilla just seems a little happier. Maybe this is that ¨Spanish Quality of Life¨everyone is always on about.
Don´t eat the oranges.
Orange trees grow all around Sevilla and if you´re anything like me, free food makes your heart beat out of your chest like when a cartoon character falls in love. While you might be tempted to enjoy a few (I was and honestly, I don´t even like oranges), you must resist. Apparently, they are incredibly bitter and only good for preserving as jam. Heartbroken.
Three Wizard Kings.
In Spain, both Santa Claus and the Three Kings (here called the Reyes Magos, which translates to wizard kings…?) can bring you presents and people decorate their windows with displays of stuffed effigies creeping in to gift them. For some reason, the ideas of three magic guys crawling in my window is more disturbing than one fat guy coming in through the chimney.
Christmas season also brings pop-up markets full of seasonal candies and breads and elaborate nativity dioramas called belenes. Some of them are so popular, you have to wait in a line wrapped around the building to get in and see them. I waited about five minutes to see one and I have to admit, it was pretty boring and not worth it.
Flamenco Death Trap.
Because Andalucia is the birthplace of flamenco (though oddly enough, Sevillanas – the most well known style – didn´t originate in Sevilla), we had to try and see a show. Unfortunately for us, as it was Christmas Eve, and became quite an ordeal that never panned out. The first place we went had cancelled their show for that night and offered no advice for finding another one.
We heard about another possible hidden flamenco spot and after wandering around dark alleyways for about an hour, we came across a spray painted, handmade sign that looked like it could have lead us either to a great underground authentic show or to tourist torture dungeon. We decided to go for it but it was (literally) just another dead end. At least it gave us a chance to find some really cool street art.
The Cathedral of Seville.
Either the third largest or the largest cathedral in the world (depending on how you measure it), this beauty is huge and magestic inside, like all cathedrals, but the selling point is that it houses the remains of one Christopher Columbus (you may have heard of him).
Torre del Oro & Triana.
The Torre del Oro is a dodecagonal (that´s twelve sides) military watchtower right across the river from Triana, basically Sevilla´s sister city. I´m told this is really the place you need to go for a great flamenco show.
No me ha dejado.
I was tempted to ignore this symbol, NO8DO, I kept finding all over town but I´m glad I didn´t. From street lamps to sewer covers, its scrawled everywhere and without explanation. There are differing opinions about what it really means but the common translation is no me ha dejado or ¨It [Sevilla] hasn´t left me¨.
One last thing! Though I didn´t get any great photos of it, the Metropol Parasol, also known as Las Setas de la Encarnación is an incredible gigantic wooden structure that you absolutely must visit! It will be one of my first stops if I make it back to Sevilla, and I hope I will.
Have you been to Sevilla? What was your thing about it?
Check out additional photos from Sevilla here and more from my other travels around Spain.