I have been to Andalusia a few times but I have always seemed to miss out on a trip to the city of Sevilla. Arriving by bus from Malaga City my first impression of Seville was rather worrying. I guess over the years you create an image of a place in your mind and expect it to immediately be like that, but where were the palaces, grand architecture and orange blossoms? I decided to remind myself of the quote ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ and I was correct in doing so. As we walked from the station towards our hotel we were instantly transported to a maze of streets, tree lined boulevards and colourful architecture ( a sigh of relief by all). It isn’t until you really explore Sevilla that you see its captivating beauty, its rustic charm and its stylish demeanour. Throughout the day its streets are buzzing with people, yet it still manages to hold a relaxed atmosphere. The local sevillians are dressed to impress with the latest fashionable attire, the woman adorned with sleek dresses and gorgeous hair, the guys in clean cut suits and some of the best dressed children I have ever seen. When night falls it becomes even more glamorous, the narrow mazes surrounding the centre are filled with locals and tourist, couples walking and eating the delicious ice cream and small squares filled with orange trees and quant restaurants.
I was only there for a short while but there are my high five of this amazing city;
#GranMeliaColon Our hotel, The Gran Melia Colon was a beautiful building located minutes from the river and a casual 10 minute stroll into the historic centre. Opened in 1929 the hotel is one of the most emblematic buildings in the city, it has gone through many changes in its time but it still highly regarded as an important part of sevilla’s history. The building is now a listed monument and still manages to display its original neoclassical façade. When you arrive through the doors you are immediately greeted by staff who take your bags and walk you to check in. As you walk in, the main hotel area is exceptional, with its beautiful central dome, the endless marble flooring, sweeping stairways and the pop of gorgeous red from the contemporary stylish seating. At check-in we were offered a glass of champagne and as we had booked the red level service we were introduced to our very own red level member of staff. She showed us to our room, provided us with lots of information and if we needed anything we could contact her directly by phone. Each floor is dedicated to a specific Spanish artist and on each room door was a different painting belonging to that artist. As a red level member we had access to a private lounge where you could help yourself to endless tapas, desserts and drinks. The spa area of the hotel was located on the top floor and included a steam room, sauna and an amazing Jacuzzi and sunbed area with an uninterrupted panoramic view of the city. I would definitely recommend this hotel for its amazing customer service, cleanliness and beautiful décor.
#FlamencoShow When in Sevilla it is paramount that you get to experience the spine tingling Spanish tradition of Flamenco. We choose to go to La Casa de Flamenco which was located in a 15th Century house in the Santa Cruz district. Seated in a small room of about 30 people you have an uninterrupted view of the main stage. The first part of the show consists of a flamenco singer and Spanish guitarist, then a solo dance by the male flamenco dancer, then the female and then both as a couple. As soon as the Spanish guitar started I was completely captivated and when the flamenco singing kicked in it was like a small spark of a fire was ignited. As soon as the dancers came in that spark grew into a flame and then to a fire. It was as if they were all connected and the passion and energy that exuded from them was immense and could be felt by every person in the room. They said that you were guaranteed to feel ‘duende’ when watching the show. This is an expression used to describe the intense feeling you feel when watching or performing the art of flamenco. On a few occasions I must have experienced this, the tingling on my body, the feeling like no one else was in the room and my heart racing as I watched the passion seep from every part of their body. It was definitely an amazing experience and one I truly recommend to anyone while visiting this part of Spain.
#ComerYBeber Food and drink is definitely a huge part of this city as the whole place is teaming with places to eat and drink. We were recommended a place called La Azotea in the Santa Cruz district, so after tracking it down we weren’t surprised that there was a waiting list. We decided to stick it out as the dishes of food that flew past our noses looked more than appetising. Eventually we were seated in this small but rather modern tapas restaurant. It had a lovely quirkiness about it and no matter how chaotic and busy the place was the staff were efficient and friendly. To drink we settled for the Tinto de Verano, a popular drink in the area using red wine mixed with lemon spritzer and ice, very refreshing in the warmth of the evening. Between the two of us we decided to have three medium tapas as by the look of it the portions were quite large and we weren’t disappointed. First was the parcels filled with Cheese, Leeks and Prawns, then the traditional patatas bravas (fried potatoes and sauce) and potato mounds with leeks, onions, salmon and tartar sauce. The amount was just perfect, we actually tried to cancel the third dish as we were really full but it was already made so we ate it. The food overall was very simple yet tasty and of generous portions for a relatively good price. You can get cheaper tapas elsewhere but as we were only in Seville for the evening we thought we should try this highly recommended place. We also had a drink at the Hotel Alfonso XIII. This hotel is absolutely stunning and if you don’t get a chance to stay here then a visit to this place for a bite to eat or drink is a must. It’s like entering a palace and going back in time, you are taken to the central courtyard which is dotted with small tables, orange trees and a central fountain. The archways cascade around the courtyard and in each alcove there is comfortable seating, dark wooden furniture and intriquette detailing. You do feel special when visiting this place, the staff are beautifully dressed and there is an air of sophistication. We only had coffee and cake here but it was worth it just to bask in such a historic and unique environment.
#RealAlcazar As you walk into the Real Alcazar de Sevilla and through the Puerta Del Leon (Lion Gate) its almost as if you have been transported to another era. This beautiful royal palace built by the Moorish Muslim kings catches your breath with its special interior. It’s difficult to conceive that it is still used today by the Spanish Royal Family. This place has gone through many changes but it is very clear to see the Arabic influences everywhere you look, with its arched doorways, comprehensive carvings and running water channels. The deeper you walk into the palace you are bombarded with sights that make you gasp with excitement, it is no wonder it was used as a film location for the Game of Thrones. I wanted to be locked in here for days just to experience every corner of its beauty and tranquillity. The gardens are like a walled paradise filled with exotic flowers, palm trees and fruit trees. Walking through them you wouldn’t think that you are in the middle of a city. It is adorned with small fountains that trickle slowly, trees filled with singing birds and its burnt orange façade blends beautifully with the greenery. I definitely recommend a visit to this amazing sight, once you get past the lines of tourists its beauty is so captivating that you wouldn’t even know anyone else was there.
#PlazaDeEspana As you casually stroll through the beautiful surrounding of Maria Luisa Park you are completely surprised to stumble across the impressive buildings of the Plaza de Espana. This spectacular semi-circle building has two large towers at each side that can be seen from most of Seville. In the front of the building is a canal with four bridges each representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. Known as the “Venice of Seville” you can hire a boat to row in the canal. We chose to slowly walk around the plaza to experience the grandeur and detailing of the building. The stair cases and bridges are adorned with azulejos (painted ceramic tiles) and the façade is covered in detailed pictures, each alcove represent a different Provence of Spain. The colour and detailing of the tiles were really impressive and it was interesting to see the differences of each alcove according to each Provence. The plaza is so impressive it has featured in some movies such as star wars.
I was only in Sevilla for two days but I completely fell in love with the place, it has perfect mixture of beautiful architecture, style and sophistication.
“Thanks be to God,” says the Admiral; “the air is soft as in April in Seville, and it is a pleasure to be in it, so fragrant it is.” Christopher Columbus