The Seville Guide

Seville is the capital of the southern province of Andalusia and a place I was lucky enough to call my home for three months earlier this year. After work and on my days off, I’d spend all my free time, heading out and exploring both this city and beyond. I worked for a tour company which meant at work I was looking for everything and anything going on in the city. I lived in the north of the city, which felt like a different place to the centre of the city.

La catedral de Sevilla, catedral gótico mas grande del mundo

When to visit-

April is home of the famous April Fair, and if you want the true Sevillano experience, you’re going to want to visit during the Feria week! The city basically shuts down for the week-long party. Semana Santa is the week leading up to Easter and again, shuts the city down with all its celebrations. If you’re lucky enough to be there during June, you’ll get to see Corpus Christi as well.

Weatherwise, you need to prepare yourself before arrival. If you’re there between June and September, pack all your shorts and t-shirts! It can get up to 40° daily! Luckily, all the houses are built for the weather – cool for the summer and keeping the heat in during winter. Don’t worry about sitting outside at restaurants – they spray water onto you, to keep you nice and cool!  If you’re there in July or August, you’ll find that the city seems empty! All the locals escape the city and its heat – so all you’ll find during the daytime are tourists! Restaurants and cafes have different opening hours during these months, so be prepared to eat later as all the restaurants are open later in the cooler hours.

Where to visit-

Type ‘places to visit Seville’ into google and you’re left with some of the main tourist attractions – the Alcazár, Catedral y Giralda and the Plaza de España. But there’s more to the city than these three. When you visit the Plaza de España, turn around, and spend some time wandering through Parque Maria Luisa. The park is full of pavilions, fountains and statues. If you’re visiting Seville in the summer, look out for the Alcazárs summer music series – they open the garden up daily for a concert in the evenings. I was lucky enough to visit one night and saw a string quartet, nestled behind the garden wall, with the Giralda lit up in the background.

Las Seta’s will always be a talking point in the city. The real name for them is the ‘Metropol Parasol’ but everyone refers to them as ‘The Mushrooms’. When you buy your ticket, you get a drinks ticket! Enjoy a drink at the top, which will cost a couple of euros on top of the drinks voucher, or enjoy a free drink on the ground! If you’re after a wide selection of food and drink spots, head slightly north of the city centre to the Alameda de Hercules – it’s an open square with so many amazing restaurants and bars!

If you’re in Seville around Halloween – or any time of the year, check out the abandoned Isla de la Cartuja! The island is located on the east of the city and was home of the 1992 exposition. The site is a mixture of buildings currently used as offices, and buildings that are completely abandoned.  The Museo de Bellas Artes is the main art gallery in Seville and is free for European residents! You can spend hours there looking at all the amazing artwork, and the architecture of the building.

Sevilles most famous landmark, the Giralda tower of the cathedral

Getting around Seville-

Seville as a whole is quite a small city, and most of it is walkable. If you’re staying close to the historical centre, walking is the best way as the streets are narrow and a maze to get through! Taxies are cheap, and you can get a bus ride for €1.40 each way. Another great option is Sevici! You can sign up for a short-term pass – €13 a week, or a long-term pass which is €35 a year. Your first 30 minutes are free, and thanks to the size of the city, you can get pretty much everywhere in half an hour of cycling.

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Where to eat-

Throughout the city, there are gems of restaurants.  One of the most popular chains in Seville (and Spain) is 100 Montaditos. Cheap buckets of beer, large Tinto de Verano’s and cheap tapas and sandwiches (montaditos), it’s got to be your go-to on a Wednesday or Sunday – where all their sandwiches are 1€!

If you’re wanting a little bit more fine dining, head to the Alameda! The Alameda is home to Arte y Sabor, a beautiful restaurant, full of amazing artwork. And the best part? It serves both ‘traditional’ Spanish tapas, as well as plenty of vegan and vegetarian options! Try their tuna steak or tempura vegetables! You’re not going to regret it.  Another great option is El Pasaje. Tucked down some side streets not too far from the Cathedral, El Pasaje is surprisingly cheap for its location! Whilst you’re there, try their salmon lasagne, or their espinacas y garbanzos!

Whilst you’re near Las Setas, check out Perro Chiko! Beautiful creamy croquettes, amazing vegetables and patatas bravas. It’s open super late, and the few times we went there, all the food was just as good every time. The further north you go, and the further away from the city you are, the more unique the food is! Koala was one of my favourite restaurants in the Macarena part of Seville – a beautiful family restaurant, with amazing goats cheese, asparagus fritters and patatas alioli. As you keep going north, you’ll find the widest range of Cuban and Southern American food! They’re all restaurants full of locals, which is a good sign of the food being the best!

If you’re after a traditional Andalusian breakfast, head towards the Alameda and check out Cafe Piola or Cafe Hercules – with all the crushed tomato, garlic oil and oregano you’ll want to top your toast!

Hidden sights of the Alcazar- read about more in the city guide

Flamenco –

Seville is the home of Flamenco. And whilst you’re there, it would be silly not to watch a show! There’s the well known Museum of Flamenco, as well as some shows hosted at restaurants and cafes. My favourite was Casa Ensembla, located north of La Setas and east of the Alameda. It’s a wonderful, family run show, located within a beautiful art space. The show only cost a few euros and it was definitely a family show – and everyone jumped on stage at the end for an impromptu dance.

Where to visit outside the city-

Thanks to the Ave trains and Alsa buses, Seville has great travel options, whether you’re after just a day trip, or a quick weekend away! Nearby is Jerez de la Frontera, a town known for its sherry, Granada and the Alhambra, Cordoba and its amazing mosque. There’s also Cadiz, on the coast with all its amazing fresh seafood for you to try! Nearby, you can find the historic town of Carmona, high up on a hill looking out over its Andalusian countryside.

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A morning in Jerez

Just two weeks after arriving in Seville, I had itchy feet and knew I needed to get out and explore Andalucia. After a quick deliberation, I jumped on Renfe and booked a quick trip to Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez as it’s usually shortened to. The journey from Seville to Jerez takes about an hour.

The beautiful cathedral of Jerez, surrounded by sherry distilleries

Jerez is a beautiful city, closer to the coast than Seville. And what it’s known for is in its name, Jerez – or sherry in English.  But it also has a second claim to fame, it’s dancing horses! Every Thursday at the Fundacíon Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre the horses put on a show and show off their best moves! (Tickets are from 13-27€ depending on where you’re sat).

But naturally, I missed out on this and visited on a Friday!

The Alzacar in Jerez - not quite as famous as Seville's

The train station is just outside the centre of the city but it’s only a short 15-minute walk before you’re in town. One of Jerez’s most famous sights is the Cathedral, built in the 17th century and looks out over the rest of the city. As well as the insane interior and museum pieces, there’s also a peaceful orange garden out the back. I took my notebook with me and ended up sitting there for about half an hour enjoying the peace. Next to the Cathedral, you’ll find the Alcazar, which was first built in the 11th century, and still maintains some of the original Moorish features. It’s full of history, and amazing views. My favourite part, despite how odd it sounds, was the roof of the Arab Baths!

Water fountains and flags in Jerez's city centre

My visit ended shortly after these two, but there’s plenty more to see;

  • Wherever you look, you’ll find a Bodega – or storehouse for maturing wines/sherries. Some of the more popular Bodegas are Bodega Fundador and Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez. If you’re not fussed on where you go to try some sherry, pop into any open doors as you wonder, they’re bound to be good!
  • Feria del Caballo – Every May (usually the week after Seville’s Feria, and the day after I went!) Jerez celebrates its own Feria, and unsurprisingly, horses have a big influence! It’s celebrated by locals opening up casetas on the streets, and serve food and drink to the visitors. There’s also usually a funfair, lit up with fairy lights!
  • Cartuja de Jerez- The Cartuja is an old monastery located outside the city of Jerez, approximately a fifteen-minute drive from the Cathedral. It was built in the 1400’s by the first Friars to visit the area. The gardens can be visited Tuesday- Saturday, and the inside is open during the hours of worship.

 

The Alcazar in Jerez

Seville in a summary

La catedral de Sevilla, catedral gótico mas grande del mundo

Seville was hot. Seville was beautiful. Seville was everything I needed at the right moment in time.

If a dream internship miraculously ends up being advertised on your facebook just hours before the closing date, you’ll be silly not to apply, right? Right! And just under a month later, I’d packed my bags and headed on a train to London, ready to complete a week-long course before I flew out to Seville.

The first few weeks were cool (both weather-wise and in general) filled with thunderstorms, the first days at work in a new job and lots of city explorations. Thankfully the storms died down, although so did our enthusiasm for Spanish lessons. Cañas of beers were drunk, tapas devoured and we soon settled into our Sevillano lifestyle.

It’s so easy to spend money here, however. One cheeky drink with a tapa, three/four/five times does start to add up, and with only a small stipend it was easy to panic. Although Seville has so much to offer, I found myself booking weekend after weekend away, seeing as much as Andalusia as possible, on the smallest budget. And this meant sacrifices. The end of June brought both Pride and a concert over the same weekend, with 13 hours on a coach over two days to experience it all.

The seafront of Cadiz, showing off why it's been compared to Havana, Cuba.

Work, of course, had to play a big part in what we did. Four days a week, I sat down and got to work for a tour company, working on their social media, and thanks to it being such a small business, learning about all the different aspects of running a bespoke tour company.

The whole experience was such a blur, time passed at a funny pace, and now I’m back home, it’s hard to believe that three months passed. It’s time to put all those new skills into practice, and on to the next adventure!

The beautiful cathedral of Jerez, surrounded by sherry distilleries

 

Life in Spain

The famous landmark and movie set, Plaza de España

Life in Spain is truly incomparable. As someone who’s been lucky enough to have spent more than ten years living in two different countries, I’m used to culture shock and learning about a countries way of life. But Spain is different. Everything is so much slower. Shops shut during the afternoon for a siesta because the heat is too much, everyone eats dinner late, toast is the way forward for breakfast. But this country really changes you.

Seville's famous landmark - the Giralda

I first moved to Spain two years ago, when I impulsively signed up and became an Au Pair. Don’t ask what I was thinking, I think I regretted this decision most of the time I was there. But just because I didn’t enjoy my job, doesn’t mean I hated every moment of the experience. I had freedom. I had liberty. I could do whatever I wanted – within reason, I did have to be back by four to pick the kids up.

But time is so much different. I’m doing a job I mostly love, I have a great flat and great flatmates, and I’ve been able to see so much of Andalusia – and squeeze in a quick trip to Madrid. I’m so glad I bit the bullet and came back. Being here as an intern is so much different than being here as an Au Pair. I have a job with normal office hours, four days of the week – which means I now have a third weekend day, ideal to take a quick day trip, have another day to explore Seville and still have a lazy day at home! It really has planned out well!

The world famous palace, the Alhambra (Granada)

I made the decision to move to Spain originally almost impulsively – I knew I had to be out of New Zealand for the European summer but didn’t know how until I came across my au pair agency, but the second time it’s happened differently – in January I wrote it at number one of my to-do list, and by April it had happened – all thanks to an ad that came up on my facebook!

It’s weird to think how different life would be if I hadn’t taken this second plunge!

Torre Tavira's amazing views over Cadiz