Words by Erin Hardie | Photos by Ryan Platten
|4€ per pint of Guinness
*2.50€ per pint of local beer (Cruzcampo)
After getting very partied out at the Cordoban Feria for 3 days we hopped a train to Seville, continuing on our southward tour of Spain. We’d not really looked into Seville in advance of arriving and hoped for a bit of respite after the preceding days’ of partying. Boy were we surprised! Seville is perhaps not the place for a rest. In fact it is Spain’s fourth largest city and without doubt the most bustling and busy city we had seen in Spain from a tourism point of view. It seems everyone visits Seville! All of the tourist stereotypes were present, in droves. There were the loud fanny pack clad Americans, never-ending coach loads of Chinese, small groups of Japanese taking peace sign photos in front of every building they passed as well as inumerous European languages we could identify and many we couldn’t.
The tourist attractions and streets of Seville always seem to be full of people.
There were more tourists in Seville than we had even seen in Barcelona or Madrid. Although we only had a day to explore, we quickly discovered why this is a must-see destination and thus so busy! Seville like many of the Spanish cities has a rich and long history spanning multiple civilisations and retaining their cultural influences. This almost always makes for excellent landmarks and Seville was not short of these. And whilst large crowds of tourists can often make for a detrimental effect on one’s enjoyment or ability to see a city this was surprisingly not the case in Seville. In fact Seville was the richer for these droves, with every bar and restaurant spilling out onto the cobbled streets of the historic city centre with extra al fresco seating in the pleasant late May evening we visited, and full until midnight. This lively atmosphere attracts buskers on street corners by day and wandering guitar players amongst the al fresco tables by night.
The al fresco bars in Seville are made all the more better for the droves of tourists that fill the city.
Seville is also known as the epicentre of Flamenco culture in Spain. This is the city in which to catch flamenco guitar music and/or dancing. However as a very touristic city it is good to do your research if you want a more authentic experience. Advertised throughout the city centre are Tablaos Flamencos: meaning Flamenco Shows. Many online reviewers advise that these are perfectly enjoyable and that there are plenty that are not too dear or include dinner in the ticket price for added value. If however you’re a chaser of more authentic experiences then do some google/on-foot searching for the private music clubs (peñas). There are over 75 of these peñas in Seville although unlike the Tablaos they are less likely to have shows every night. Another option is catching a free tablao flamenco as part of the admission cost to the Museo del Baile Flamenco (The Flamenco Dance Museum). These shows are at night after the museum closes at two time slots: approx 7pm and 9pm.
If you don’t like flamenco, you can always just pop a giant bubble or two…
With Flamenco to take up much of one’s evening in Seville it is handy that tapas culture, and eating late is prominent here too. We in fact caught no official flamenco performance due to our love of tapeando as an evening pastime. Fortunately we caught a flamenco dance show by a street busker and flamenco guitar music from the wandering night buskers that came by the bars we were hopping between. We got our cultural fix at a very low price! In the bars/restaurants we visited all the usual tapas suspects were available and there were plenty of Sevillan specific dishes to try too. As a total vegetable nerd I was beyond excited to try the Espinacas con Garbanzos (spinach with chickpeas). This came out as a little stew of the two mentioned ingredients but was sadly a bit ho-hum in flavour. The meat however did not disappoint: Carrillada de Cerdo is a stew of pork cheek in a wine, cloves and garlic reduction usually served on mash and the sort of dish you instantly regret agreeing to share. My advice: order one each especially if doing a tapas sized portion! Here hubby, the braver gourmand of this duo, also gamely swallowed down some snails. Snails (caracoles) in Spanish tapas are small (about the size of a thumbnail) and served in their shells in the aromatic broth they were boiled in. To eat simply slurp the little suckers out of their shells and try not to stare too long into their shocked looking faces…...simply slurp the little suckers out of their shells and try not to stare too long into their shocked looking faces!Click To Tweet
In fact snails are a seasonal delight (May – June only) during Seville’s (and other parts of the Andalusian region’s) Spring. You will generally have to look for them on daily specials boards rather than the printed menu, but you should find them declaimed in bold print “hay caracoles” meaning “snails here”!
A bowl of caracoles might not be everyone’s idea of a nice meal, but they are tasty!
Unsurprisingly in such a busy tourist city the Guinness was plentifully available and even on tap in a number of establishments. A new and unique Sevillian flavour we sampled here was the vino de naranja (sweet orange wine) that they’ve been making and serving for over a hundred years at the Álvaro Peregil bar. This bar was near the historic centre landmarks we’d been visiting by day and provided some much needed relief, even though it was standing tables only! Much of Seville’s old city barrios (neighborhoods) are lined with the bitter orange trees that we had also seen in Cordoba. No wonder, after all they are also known as the Seville Orange Tree! We also again bumped into a religious processional in Seville, in fact one parade came right by our door with an entire brass band in the cohort. May is truly a magical time to be visiting Spain and Seville should definitely be on your itinerary. If unlike us, you’ve taken the time to do your research (by reading this!) then we are pretty sure Seville will have just gone straight to the top of your priority list! Below follow our top picks for things to do in Seville. If you’ve been to Seville or slurped down some snails (caracoles) in Spain’s springtime we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Until next time Salud! (Cheers!) Erin and Ryan.
Our Top Picks
Have you braved the tourist crowds of Seville? What are your tips that we’ve missed? Let us know in the comments below!
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