Two hours and a world away

It’s Tuesday night, and I’m on the tail end of a fabulous four-day weekend. I can’t even pretend to be disappointed about having to go back to work tomorrow, because if it wasn’t for this job, I wouldn’t have experienced the laid-back-yet-chic and food-laden, 32°C-in-October fabulousness that was Sevilla!

After a long and stressful week of preparing tender after tender, my boss began complaining about having to go to Sevilla this weekend to drop off the latest, that was Ecuador-bound. So I volunteered. And just like that, the pace quickened and what started as an innocent comment turned into me buying a plane ticket, rushing to the prefecture in Evreux to get my foreigner status in order and leaving on Friday afternoon, tender freshly bound and wrapped up, for the Orly airport.

I couldn’t have asked for a better weekend. It was hot and sunny and there were concerts all over the city. It was a mid-summer atmosphere in the end of October. I left behind quotes for my fireplace, grey and miserable weather and a general autumn fatigue for the exuberance of Spain.

Aside from the architecture and general feel and appearance of the city (reds, oranges and yellows; clean, polished stone streets and sidewalks; ceramic street signs, bar countertops, balconies, entryways; palm trees), I was of course most blown away by the food. Spain is a sort of cheap and easy food paradise for gourmands, with their tapas at every restaurant, at any time of day. I never ate the same thing twice, and with each tapa starting at 2.50€, I didn’t hesitate to try things I probably wouldn’t have otherwise (bull’s tail!), nor to order way too much food.

Highlights included Iberico ham, a carpaccio of prawns with local olive oil, an olive panini bread with ham and camembert, pitchers and pitchers of fresh, cold sangria, warm potatoes with spicy tomato sauce, gaspacho and bull’s tail. It was a food lover’s dream, and I soaked it up and took it all in, planning each restaurant experience and trying anything and everything. I even replaced tourism on my last day in town so that I could have one last meal of tapas, a decision that I certainly didn’t regret.

Although Sevilla does have a few major monuments that are definitely worth visiting (Plaza de Espana, Cathedral, Real Alcazar, Giralda, its beautiful parks, the Triana neighborhood…), the city has an easy feel to it, and I was mostly content to wander through it’s tiny curving streets for hours on end. It was one of those cities where everything was beautiful, and while I didn’t visit that many things, I kept my camera around my neck and took picture after picture, pictures of nothing at all, trying my best to capture the local flavor.

The city also had a rather vibrant nightlife, but that’s no surprise. On my second night, after a fabulous dinner of tapas and several cocktails, I asked my waitress where I could see some flamenco. The city is famous for it, after all. She suggested that I go to a little bar, hidden away on a tiny winding street a few minutes from the restaurant. There is no sign outside, she told me. You’ll see a big red door, and probably lots of people lingering outside. I found the place, an old coal refinery-turned flamenco bar, packed full of people cheering on the polka-dot-clad blond tapping and snapping and waving from the stage, accompanied by a couple of musicians. It was a great experience (right down to the “agua de Séville”, which is some sort of incredibly strong liquor served with whipped cream and cinnamon!), and I was happy to have experienced another bit of Spanish culture.

I am so glad that I got to visit this city for a second time. I had no real, distinct memories of my first visit, and simply considered that I had been there. I would not have recommended it, or been able to tell you anything specific about my experience. This time, however, seven years later, was quite different. I absolutely loved it, and I hope you all have a chance to visit the city of Sevilla and experience its culinary and architectural gems.

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One thought on “Two hours and a world away

  1. Pingback: 2011 was a good year… | à l'américaine

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