We landed, straight through passport control and then we hit the taxi queue. Hundreds of people in front of us all looking to get to the same place no doubt and a trickle of taxis coming through. It’s a Friday night, perhaps they had better things to be doing with themselves!
The taxi fare starts off at 24.92 Euro. We sit in the cab convinced that we are being scammed as what rate starts that high eh? On we continue but the meter isn’t moving. Turns out it’s a set rate from the airport into the town centre.
Meandering through the narrow streets We find our apartment Corral del Conde is located in a 17th century gated complex. There is a big steel door to get through and then you are into an open cobbled square with trees, fountains, lots of space – not quite what you are expecting from the narrow alleyway outside.
When in Spain, nights out start late; so us heading out following our late arrival for some food at gone 10pm isn’t unusual . Seville is made up of alleyways and plazas but it is also a city consumed with eating and drinking. They say that there is a bar / restaurant for every 157 inhabitants of this city. We weren’t going to go hungry and we found ourselves in the city’s oldest bar El Rinconcello “a classic place for Sevillian tapeo since 1670”.
We were given our position standing at the bar, order to the barman and he chalks each round up on the bar – as in physically writes it on the bar. One beer, one glass of wine is the grand sum of 3,70e. The bar staff have probably been serving there since the beginning of time too and could be a little grumpy but perhaps he cracked by the time we left. The size of spirit measures was huge by British standards. Expensive night out!
I’d booked a Segway tour for the first morning just to give us a lay-of-the-land just because I’d never been on one before. I booked the cheapest hour long tour which meant we got the oldest generation of Segway. The kind that you couldn’t turn off or stand up by themselves. Once you get your balance sorted and how to wobble still on them then you’re okay. We got about and saw the initial highlights past the cathedral, the Alcazar, the parks, Plaza de Espanã, and along the river.
Getting lost in the alleyways becomes a pastime in the old town of Seville. You think you’re going the right way and then you realise that at the last junction of the four alleyways in front of you, you chose the wrong one. You’ll come across random plazas which usually have bars and restaurants around and a children’s playground in the middle; just to keep all ages happy. Just choose your square and be ready to sit back and people watch.
If you want to go and see the Alcazar or inside the cathedral, book on-line in advance. The queues are long and if you can avoid them, then just plan a little. But the Alcazar is an amazing building. If you haven’t been and are just a little bit interested, I’d suggest a rated tour guide to take you around. The audio tour just gives you the bare minimum and it didn’t hold my interest I have to say.
Tapas – work so many places to choose from, in my opinion it’s all pot luck unless you’re going up-market. You can read all the reviews you like but people perceptions on food is rarely the same as yours, as is the likelihood of getting the same chef and wait staff so the experience is completely different. We went along the lines of if people sounded local and there was lots of them in there then we world give it a try. There are also some market buildings to go and check out where you can get fed and watered as well.
There are then a variety of roof top bars to visit and watch the sun set down over the city. We went to the Hotel Dona Maria which although close to the cathedral does not give you the best view as there are roof tops in the way! But they made an excellent G&T and the free pour measure was generous.
We managed an escape from Sevilla for the day. Hired bikes, got a paper map from the bike shop owner (with our phones as back up) and off we headed on a Sunday morning. The Roman ruins of Italica, with remarkable mosaics and an impressive amphitheatre, are located 9 kilometres to the north of the city, just outside the village of Santiponce. We got a little bit lost but we stopped off in Santiponce to eat lunch and have a beer in the before heading back on the mostly bike lanes back to the city.
There is so much more to see around the city that you can do by foot or hiring a bike – so many bike lanes to use. There are the markets on the river – one on each side of the Triana Bridge. Choose from the modern Mercardo Lonja del Barranco for a gastronmic experience. Or there is the older Mercardo de Triana. Bars, coffee, tapas, wine, delis, seafood, fruit and veg as well as cake and ice cream can be found. Feeling peckish then definitely worth a visit.
Keep on walking around the city and you may come to the bull ring aka Plaza del Torres which is still operating between Easter Sunday and 12 October. It holds 12,000 people and holds one of the most well-known bull fighting festivals.
It’s a beautiful city and one to just wander around and see what you come across alond with long lunches accompanied by local beers and wines. What more could you ask for from a weekend away?