Seville

When I was mapping out my route through Spain and Portugal I didn’t have a clear cut agenda. I had heard of the major cities, of which of course Seville is one, and planned my trip around that. Some conversations with a few people who had traveled to Spain, helped me with my decision. When I think of Spain I think Flamenco dancing and horses, so that was what I wanted to concentrate on more than anything. But first a place to stay.

I chose an apartment style accommodation though AirBnB that included a couple and child because of the ad that read like this: Sevilla Capital – Habitación privadabright room overlooking the pool in Seville Capital
– 7 minutes by car to the historic center and 10 minutes to the Aeroporto and Santa Justa station.
Bus stop near home.
Easy to park, Uber and Cabify.
In our bairro it has restaurants, supermarket, pharmacy, tapas bars and coffee shops around the building where we live, and it is very nice.For quem looking for an experience beyond the tourist part is the ideal place.

The apartment was exactly as described, small but super clean. It also showed it had a washing machine which I needed at this point and asked to make use of. My hosts were a very nice young couple with a young daughter around the age of 7-8. I barely heard any of them as I came and went on my tours, although twice during the 4 night stay I encountered people who had obviously been sleeping on the couch. I realized they rented to what is known “couch surfers” as well, and I was a little nonplussed to tell you the truth. Coupled with that, the beautiful pool area my room overlooked, was I was informed by Marcele, my host that it was not available. I saw that it was pristine and obviously running fine, but for reasons I could not fathom, no one was using it. A huge disappointment to me as I was really looking forward to a swim after a long hot drive. And it is a pet peeve of mine that people advertise what they cannot deliver. And, when I left, Marcele charged me 4 euros for the use of the washing machine, something that is also not advertised in their listing. Other than that, the place was as I said clean, but I never did feel comfortable there, and of all the places I stayed in, this was definitely not my favorite place to stay. But I did like the little cafes that lined the street where the apartment was located, and parking was perfect on the street, free of charge for the 4 days I stayed. And at $55 a night, I think it was overpriced compared to other places.

Regardless, I made the best of it and had an amazing time in the city I fell instantly in love with, and which warred already with my feelings for the others I had visited so far. I realized that each one had special and unique features about them- if push came to shove I would never be able to pin down which one I liked the best.

After getting settled, I asked an uber driver to take me to a place I could go shopping, and expected that to be somewhere in the central part of town. Instead she took me to a more modern area of the city and to a shopping mall. It was like being back in Canada and although it was not what I had been looking for, I enjoyed checking out the shops before taking a bus as close to the apartment as I could, and then another uber home. I had a delicious dinner at the sidewalk cafe in front of the apartment before turning in for the night.

The first experience I booked was was the second day of my trip and one I was probably looking forward to the most; Day Trip Riding Spanish Horses was $119 per person. It was also an additional charge of $45 euros for transportation so quite an expensive outing actually, but one I had my heart set on because of the description which read:

We will take you through a sun ridden stroll in the Spanish countryside. Our ranch is located just 30 minutes outside of Seville. Once you have arrived we will choose the right horse for you and go on a nice ride in the beautiful countryside. You will see olive groves, almond and orange gardens as well as pine trees. You will amaze yourself with the beauty of Spanish breed horses and their elegance. After approximately 1.45 -2 hours of riding we will head back where if we have time you can wash and brush your horse and have a drink to refresh and chill out before leaving the horses behind and head for Seville again. As there is no public transportation we try to help as much as possible and to organize your return transfer from and to a central location. The price for the transfer is roughly 35€-45€ which you can pay to your driver directly. Please let us know your experience level and address beforehand too. This activity is great for any age (4 years old above) and any experience level. However and because of your safety we reserve the right not to offer you a ride if you are not in good physical conditions or are overweight. Please ask us before to be on the safe side.

As luck would have it there was only one other person on the tour, however as she was basically a raw beginner, we went at an extremely slow pace to accommodate. I would have liked to have done a little trotting or gentle lope on parts of the trail that were ideal for it, but it was not to be. Our guide, the lovely and engaging Carmen, kept things interesting and fun during the 2.5 hour ride and I felt a real sense that she cared a great deal about the people she met through her job. And the horses we rode and saw around the lively barns and arenas, were beautiful. On the way home, our driver stopped at a lovely cafe and bought Tanya and I, a cold drink and waited patiently while we took our time chatting.

That evening I booked a tour with the same company, to take in an authentic Flamenco performance.

Enjoy a 100% Spanish night with Flamenco, tapas and a walking tour in one of the most beautiful neighborhood of Seville, Santacruz or Triana. Let the rythem, wine and dance inundate your memories of a magical night in Seville.

After much confusing as to where to meet ( I chose the wrong Santander Bank on the street) I finally met up with Ana who was to be my guide for the evening. Once again I was the only guest, which brings up the next point- September and October are fantastic times to visit Europe, especially if you want to avoid the crowds. Having a guide whose complete attention is on you, or smaller groups, makes for a wonderful tour. Ana was no exception and I felt we became friends after the tour, which ended far later than it was supposed to. As we wandered through the streets she imparted wonderful information about the neighborhood she actually grew up in. Part of the package (which was $104 ) included tapas and drinks. By the time we reached the restaurant where the performance was held, I was completely content and full of great food and booze. Another $18 euros covered the performance itself. (I must say as a side note that I prefer a price where everything is included as opposed to paying here and there, but that is a personal preference.)

Regardless, the performance was absolutely riveting and I enjoyed everything about the evening. Set in a small venue with a full audience of around 40 people, we got very close to the performers. I even had a chance to sit and chat with them beforehand, as Ana, a singer and belly dancer ( a coincidence) was a friend of theirs. It truly was a very special evening and as I left, Ana and I promised to stay in touch over Facebook.

One of the great things about meeting people along the way, are the opportunities to get great tips and recommendations of what to do and see. I decided that Day 3 would be spent on a hop on hop off bus, seeing the sights of the city, but Tanya from the horse tour told me about the wonderful baths that Seville is famous for. I immediately booked a session at 2 pm for the next day. It turned out to be one of the highlights of my trip.

The baths, called Aire Ancient Baths, were absolutely fantastic. In addition to a relaxing 60 minute massage, I enjoyed the numerous hot pools of varying degrees as well as an ice cold plunge pool that took your breath away, but left me feeling amazingly refreshed. I even splurged on the chocolate and champagne at the end of my visit. To learn more about this wonderful place, and should you decide to go to Seville one day, go to https://beaire.com/es/aire-ancient-baths-sevilla. Highly recommended, and after a day of sightseeing, I was ready for the relaxation it provided.

That evening before heading home, I stopped at a lovely courtyard cafe and ate dinner to the sounds of a woman playing flamenco music. Bliss!

On my last day, I decided to try a segway tour through the streets of Seville. I had taken one at our local Horseshoe Resort here in Barrie years ago with my husband Jim, but it was through the forest on soft trails. I wasn’t sure how I would do through busy streets but I was if nothing else, determined to be adventurous on this trip.

Once again, I was the only person on the tour with my guide, a young and engaging man named Marcio – a fact which relieved me greatly as I had visions of crashing into people. The bike paths were perhaps not quite as extensive and people friendly as Barcelona, but I managed to keep up for the nearly 3 hours of the tour which was advertised as this: .

As soon as you come to the meeting point we will practice until you get comfortable with machines. I will explain you all the details about segway and show you how to drive. Some people think that it is difficult, however it is not true. It usually takes 5 minutes to become familiar with segway. During the tour i will take you to the old town and show you the most fascinating places of the city. We will glide through the small streets of Santa Cruz area, pass by fabrica de tobacco and end up in the Park of Maria Luisa. Sights: Cathedral, Alcazar, Fabrica de tobacco, Plaza de Espana, Plaza America, Jardines de Murillo, Parque de Maria Luisa, Guadalquivir river, Triana, Palacio San Telmo, Torre del Oro. I will share with you the most interesting facts about Seville history and of course the best places to visit, shop and eat. During the tour we will make a stop in a nice bar to try delicious local cousine. You will get to try 3 different tapas (included in the price). Don’t hesitate, give it a go.

Some of the places listed in the ad I had already seen on my bus tour, but now I had a guide who explained everything in much more detail. I loved everything but it was the Plaza de Espana that I could have happily spent a few more hours in- spectacular.

By now it was getting quite hot, but I had booked a tour to see The Giralda, which, according to Wikipedia is the bell tower of Seville Cathedral in Seville, Spain. It was built as the minaret for the Great Mosque of Seville in Moorish Spain in the reign of the Almohad dynasty, with a Renaissance-style top added by the Catholics after the expulsion of the Muslims from the area. After we toured the cathedral itself, a structure so beautiful it is impossible to adequately describe. Just go see it if you get a chance.

Next stop was The Alcázar of Seville, commonly known as the Royal Alcázars of Seville, a royal palace in Seville, Spain, built for the Christian king Peter of Castile. It was built by Castilian Christians on the site of an Abbadid Muslim residential fortress destroyed after the Christian conquest of Seville was a Alcazar and an in depth visit through the cathedral. Our guide was with a company called Skip The line Tours, a very efficient way to visit any site in any part of the world without endless line-ups. Plus, once again our guide Anna was amazingly knowledgeable and interesting. The cost, a mere $25 euros was again, well worth it in terms of information and the wonders of the historical sites.

Back at the apartment I made a point of packing early so that I could get a start first thing in the morning, and hopefully miss the traffic. I must say that the location of the apartment, although far from city center, was perfect for being close to the highway, and soon I was heading to my next destination and country- Tavira Portugal.

Published by Elisabeth Ashe

Just someone who loves to travel and learn about different cultures, people and of course, - try the food! A semi-professional phot-journalist one of my greatest things is capturing the essense of people and cultures through my photographs and writings..

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