After almost a year I am finally re-taking this blog about my travels in Spain.
I have intended to write so many times, but after my (most) recent trip to Seville I decided that if I did not get down to writing then, it would be the end of it.
So here I am – typing away past midnight on a Monday…
The past 12 months have been the busiest time of my life: apart from the day job that I am still keeping to sustain myself, I created a walking food tour in Valencia that I guide after work.
Tailoring the tour itself was only one of the myriad of tasks that I did not realize I would need to do! Although stressful and challenging, it has definitely been rewarding: sharing food experiences with my guests has been one of the most joyful moments of my life lately.
Time Stops In Seville
So, back to Seville… This time around must have been my 5th time visiting this infatuating Spanish city. And infatuated I was… According to my iPhone app I did 20.000 steps a day there, walking the sun-drenched streets while devouring the sights of the Old Town and the tile-clad Triana neighborhood.
No city in the world has ever made this overwhelming impression on me, except for Rome.
I don’t know how it happened, but I fell in love with Seville all over again. May it have been a combination of the perfect spring weather and the otherworldly flamboyance of the April Fair?
Seville. What is it with this city that anywhere you look, every nook and cranny, is so adorable?
This time I did not research my lodging much and randomly chose an apartment in the center. I was actually really happy with it. Enclosed by an ancient city wall the apartment block was clean and quiet and the apartment – surprisingly big. The receptionist Cristina was genuinely friendly and I witnessed her go an extra mile to help the guests in 3 instances.
The backyard had a very nice vibe with the hanging tealights. And I loved the restaurant Casa Carmen’s terrace. The food was really good, too.
Most importantly, upon exiting the complex I found myself in front of nothing else but the Golden Tower of Seville itself – Torre del Oro!
Tapas in Seville
One of the things a person with common sense would obsess about in Andalusia is, of course, its food. Oh, those tapas and sherries.
While I was pointing my camera to snap a favorable angle of an atmospheric Sevillian street, an elderly lady came up to me and asked if I wanted to be in the photo. Because she didn’t want me to leave Seville without a picture of me against the beautiful Seville background.
We started talking and I learned that she was a native of the nearby Córdoba, but had lived in Seville for 25 years. She was on her way to snack on her “usual pringá open sandwich with a glass of cold beer at a place, where the waiters know her so well, because she is a frequent customer”. I asked if I could join her – I love a spontaneous conversation with a random friendy local.
We had a nice chat over a very soft meat snack of pringá. I took mine with a glass of fino this time.
Encarnación told me that until fairly recent times (1960’s) lots of land in Andalusia belonged to the local nobility. People had no choice but to slave away at the fields for a low pay. There was no interest from the elite to develop any industries.
In search of better working conditions many Andalusians left their beloved land and moved elsewhere within Spain. You can find a big Andalusian community in the better-off Madrid, Catalonia, Basque Country. With them they brought a piece of their culture. And their best tapas.
Whenever I go to Seville I always make sure to stop at the oldest Spanish tapas bar – El Rinconcillo. Founded in 1670 it preserves lots of antique charm: the classic-pharmacy-style shelving holds hundreds of bottles of alcohol. There are a few Iberian ham legs hanging over the hungry clientele by the bar. The walls are covered with colorful ceramic tiles, as one would expect in Andalusia.
If it was closer to home I would definitely have most of my meals there. Damn, I would happily live in that place!
After a glass of amontillado and a platter of mouth-watering Iberian ham, I easily gave in to the temptation to have another glass of sherry. So to accompany bull’s tail stew I ordered the drier oloroso. Heaven. The knife cut through the meat as if it was butter.
My favorite spot at such traditional places as El Rinconcillo is at the bar. A front row seat to take in the hassle of the waiters, their scribbling in chalk – that’s how they sum up the tabs. The way they yell the orders to the kitchen.
Touched by so much history, this bar could not be but a magical place.
Seville’s April Fair
The April Fair in Seville is a week of celebrating of all things Andalusian: the sevillanas dancing, the ridiculously stunning dresses, the adorned horses and carriages, the flamenco music, the rebujito, the elegant local men with their extremely upright posture and slicked back hair. And most importantly – a celebration of life.
If it sounds overstated, you simply have not been there.
I believe Seville’s April Fair should definitely be put on one of those 1000 things to do before you die lists. It’s an incredible feast for the eyes, and I couldn’t help but wonder if it was really happening. Wherever I stopped, there were dozens of horse carriages coming at me, to the pleasant silver sound of the jingle-bells adorning them.
While all the casetas (tents where members only are allowed) are inaccessible and that’s where the eating and dancing happens, as of this year there is public caseta, where all are welcome. But the best experience would be if you know someone local who can invite you in.