Selections from Seville - ashyura


October 2016

I was apprehensive about Seville because I had such a good time in Granada. This was despite most of the forum posts claiming Seville was a better destination that the former. Seville was three hours away from Granada by bus, which was comfortable by the way, and the difference was stark. Granada was the cultured hispter. Seville was the raw exotic dancer. 

I had a bit of a trouble getting a taxi from the bus station, but one way or another, I ended up outside the Hotel Alminar. As much as I wanted to like it based on the raving reviews on tripadvisor, it did not quite made the cut. The location was excellent though, as it sits on a quiet street steps away from the Cathedral. From the Cathedral, the charming Santa Cruz area awaits. Turn the other way, and you will be down for some shopping.

The Cathedral of Seville is immense, and definitely a must-visit. I managed to spend only an hour there, as I have had the misfortune to book another walking tour after the Cathedral Tour. To be fair, it was not even my fault, because the tour company moved up the timing without even asking if that's fine. Regardless, I had fun climbing up La Giralda and seeing the view of Seville from the top.

El Barrio de Santa Cruz is perhaps more enchanting than El Albaicin in my opinion. Perhaps it was the great guide that brought us around that made it feel that the place was alive. I have never met a guide quite like him before. Despite the fact that he left without me (!), I still tipped him generously. I had an unexpected free day due to a tour cancellation, and spent the hours  roaming around. There was a restaurant close by which i returned twice because the food was so good.

One of the highlights was definitely the Reales Alcazares. Having seen La Alhambra, the Royal Palace paled in comparison. But the smaller scale actually added to the experience. You get to take in more without being overwhelmed. I booked a tour of the royal chambers as well. No pictures were allowed but, the feeling of being in an exclusive space was worth the minimal sum I paid for, and the effort of booking far ahead in advance. 

No matter what your thoughts about bullfighting, a visit to the bullring is warranted. All visits into the ring are guided and timed, and you pay a fee at the entrance. I am surprised that the bullfights still happen, and that the people who work there patiently explained the history of Andalusian bullfighting with pride. It was a chance to make peace with the moral struggles that was waging within. Bullfights are wrong, but so are many things. Are we going to stop listening just because we don't agree? One must never stop listening.

Perhaps the highlight of Seville was the Reales Alcazares. I had visited La Alhambra a week earlier, and was overwhelmed by its beauty and its massive size. The Reales Alcarazares perhaps paled in comparison, but otherwise worth a visit, if only for it's smaller size. The scale is smaller and more manageable. You have time to slowly take it all in, and truly appreciate the carvings. Do sign up for the tour of the royal chambers ahead, as tickets are likely to be sold out on the day itself. No pictures were allowed, but it gives an insight to the opulence of the Spanish royals. 

Conclusion: I thought I would like Granada more, but Seville was a complete Andalusian experience, with its splash of playful colours, heat and crowds. It was just the right time to be in Seville, and the weather was beautiful. I stayed for almost a week, and felt that I made good time. Perhaps I would not be returning any time soon, but Seville will always be remembered as one of the best places I've visited.