I was really excited to go back to Sevilla where I studied abroad in college in 2001. Back then, Sevilla had a nice small town feel to it and the old town had so many mom and pop shops. I remember it having beautiful sights, beautiful people, lots of bars and discotecas and cheap and delicious food (second only to San Sebastian). I had a usual breakfast spot that I went by on the way to class and we frequented Calle Betis along the Guadalquivir River for tapas and drinks. We also lived with a Spanish family who prepared amazing home-cooked, authentic Spanish food. Those 3 months in Sevilla were some of best times I’ve had.
The city of Sevilla is famous worldwide for its culture, monuments, traditions and artistic heritage. It is the birthplace of Flamenco and the city where the most amazing Easter processions take place. The Semana Santa (Holy Week) and the Feria de Sevilla (Seville Fair), also known as Feria de Abril (April Fair) is held two weeks after Holy Week, are the two most well-known of Seville's festivals. "NO8DO" is the official motto of Seville. It is popularly believed to be a rebus signifying the Spanish "No me ha dejado", meaning "It [Seville] has not abandoned me." Its Old Town, with an area of 4 square kilometres (2 sq mi), contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. Sevilla also has a rich bull fighting history and its bull fighting arena is still active.
We took an early bus from Faro to Sevilla and the first thing I noticed when we took the bus to our Airbnb from the central bus station was how modern Sevilla looked compared to the last time I was there. There was a new Metro system (completed in 2009) and many of the shops had nice new signs on the outside and looked like they had updated interiors as well. We decided to walk through the town since it was a nice day. We saw the new Metropol Parasol, a wooden canopy structure located at La Encarnación square, which was completed in 2011. We grabbed lunch at a tapas place Diem looked up, Bar Alfalfa. Lunch was pretty good and we then walked by the Cathedral and the entrance to the Alcazar. This area was always touristy but I couldn’t believe how built up it was. The shops and restaurants were very modern and came right up to the Cathedral and Alcazar. The new Metro also goes right into the square and the lines for both the Cathedral and the Alcazar were huge, especially the line for the Alcazar. The line seemed to go through the entire square and I wondered if the increased tourism was due in part to the Cathedral and the Alcazar being featured in Game of Thrones, Inferno, and Kingdom of Heaven. I never remember seeing a line that long when I was there.
It was still early so I decided to take Diem to my favorite place in Sevilla, the Plaza de Espana. Scenes from Star Wars: Episode II and Game of Thrones were shot here and it was still just as beautiful as I remember. The Plaza was built in 1928 for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. The Plaza de España complex is a huge half-circle with buildings continually running around the edge accessible over the moat by numerous bridges representing the four ancient kingdoms of Spain. The Plaza has a number of row boats along the interior, horse drawn carriages, a beautiful fountain (Vicente Traver) in the middle, and beautiful Spanish tiled alcoves, each representing a different province of Spain. We went back to the apartment then had dinner at La Bodega, another tapas bar which was pretty good.
On our second day, we had nice weather again so we walked into the center of town and had lunch at Bodega Santa Cruz. It was close to the Plaza de Toro so we walked by and crossed the bridge to Triana. I remember Triana being kind of sketchy at night but had great tapas. Today, the streets were lined with bars that were filled with people. We walked down to the Parque Vega de Triana and then walked back to the apartment. I wasn’t feeling that well so we just stayed in and watched movies.
On our third day we decided to visit the Alacazar. Make sure to buy your tickets online to avoid the line. There are two lines at the entrance, one for online ticket holders and one for people trying to get tickets at the gate. The day-off buyers’ line wrapped around the square. When you buy online, the website has you select a time for you to enter. We selected 3 PM but when we went in they didn’t really check the time so you may be able to go in whenever. I visited the Alcazar in 2001 and this time around it wasn’t as big or beautiful as I remembered but it was still nice. There were some nice fountains and gardens and Moorish architecture. We were visiting in late fall/early winter so maybe it is more spectacular in the spring when all the flowers are blooming. We tried going to a Peruvian/sushi place for dinner but it was closed so we ended up going to a sushi restaurant by the apartment and then heading back.
The next day, we packed up and we took a 3 PM bus to Malaga. This trip to Sevilla was pretty bittersweet. It was great to walk by my old stomping grounds but it was a little disappointing to see how much the city has changed and lost some of its charm. I still love Sevilla and I think it is definitely worth seeing, but I’m not as strong an advocate for it as I used to be. I think now I’ve settled on San Sebastian being my favorite place in Spain but you really can’t go wrong at any place in Spain.
See the full gallery of our time in Seville here: Sevilla, Spain