Explore. Dream. Discover. (Mark Twain)

01 February 2010

A weekend in Sevilla

A post about Sevilla MUST start out with a picture of oranges, the mascot of Sevilla. The streets were lined with brightly colored orange trees!

For the first weekend trip, Sora and I traveled to southern Spain, to Seville ("Sevilla"), a city in the Andalusia region. The weather was absolutely perfect, in the 60s with not a cloud in the sky almost all weekend.

Common phrases throughout the weekend:
"I love these orange trees!" "Why aren't we studying abroad here?" "Soooo pretty!"

Now for the grand tour of the weekend:

Sora and I, with our chariot in the background

The seats reclined!

We traveled to Sevilla by bus, leaving Madrid at midnight on Thursday and arriving at 6 am on Friday. The bus was actually better than we both had expected, but we weren't quite able to sleep soundly.

The Sevilla Catedral, and ready carriages, in the morning.

We found our hostel, napped for a half hour on hostel beanbags (probably looking like homeless people), and started our day! Sora is a master planner, so we knew what we had to cover and by what timeline. With her planning and my Rick Steve's book, we were ready to take on Sevilla!

The Cathedral in the light!

One of the major advantages of our hostel (besides an included breakfast) was its location. We were mere minutes from Alcazar and the cathedral. We also had a very diverse room: represented nationalities included American, Korean, Spanish, Danish, and Australian!

On Paseo de Cristobal Colon, looking at the river.

Rio Guadalquivir runs through Sevilla, and we spent quite a bit of time walking along the edge of the water.

We took a tour of the bullring and bullfighting museum at the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza. It was really interesting (and bilingual!) and gave us a good look into bullfighting, a sport that we both found out we knew very little about. Sora: "but they don't really kill the bulls, right?"... our guide: "they HAVE to kill a bull!)

The ring seats about 14,000 spectators. The bull fighting season starts around Easter time, and lasts until October.

Our guide described the matadors as quasi "rock stars", and said that the best fighters can earn up 140,000 Euros per fight!

A major highlight was a visit to Reales Alcazares, commonly known as the Alcazar (or "Alcatraz" to me when I just couldn't get the name right). Alcazar is a royal residence built in the fourteenth century, and is a great example of Moorish architecture: beautiful arches and colorful tiles, known as "azulejos".

The gardens of Alcazar

The gardens were so incredible! The amount of tiles, stone work, winding vines, and palm trees that dotted the estate was astounding!

Sora, peeking out in the garden.

Perfect shrubbery.

In addition to terraces, fountains, and pavilions, the gardens also had a very Harry Potter-esque maze. We gamely entered, but the maze was a bit harder than we expected. We were flirting with the closing time, and thoughts of being locked in (and trapped in a maze!) was not the restful night we were hoping for.

Missing: Sora Lyu.
Will respond to Korean, Spanish, or English languages.
Last seen: rounding a bend in the Alcazar.

Peacocks were also running free on the grounds!

Our next big attraction was Sevilla's Cathedral and La Giralda, the bell tower. The cathedral is the largest Christian cathedral in Spain, and even has a Guiness Book of World Records certificate as evidence!

Sora and I passed up the audio tours in favor of a Rick Steves-guided tour in my book. His tour was very specific, showing us paintings of the patron saints of Sevilla (Santa Justa and Santa Rufina), and telling us how many pipes are in the choir's organ (7,000).

Spain's most valuable crown: the Corona de la Virgen de los Reyes, complete with 11,000 precious stones and the world's largest pearl (used as the body of the angel).

The tomb of Christopher Columbus

For some reason, Sora really wanted me to get a picture with Columbus's tomb. I asked why, and she said, "It is your ancestors!" I was pretty sure I am not Spanish (I can't even roll my rrr's), but she was talking more about America than me specifically. Leave it to the foreign girl to recognize and appreciate discoverer of MY country!

View of the Plaza Virgen de los Reyes from the top of La Giralda

We climbed to the top of La Giralda, the bell tower of the cathedral. It was ramped all the way up, and we climbed 34 levels! The view was great-- a 360 degree look of Sevilla. The tower has grown through the years, with its final upgrade in 1568. It is topped with a bronze weathervane ("giraldillo") of Faith.

A view from the top of La Giralda.

Horse drawn carriages were all the rage in Sevilla.

A wedding was taking place in the Cathedral, and we caught these distinguished ladies (and a few little boys!) waiting outside.

We walked along the river to Parque Maria Luisa. Inside the park is the massive and half domed Plaza de Espana. The Plaza was decorated with painted tiles of city and regional Spanish scenes. Unfortunately there was quite a bit of construction around, but we were still able to explore.

I love tile!

Creeping on another wedding... check out those outfits!

Sora and I took another tour by Rick--this time around the old Jewish neighborhood, the Barrio Santa Cruz. This area is home to narrow streets, overflowing flowered balconies, and wrought-iron doors and gates. We absolutely loved it!

On Calle Agua, Casa #2's patio.

At one of the many stops on Rick's tour.

One evening we went to a flamenco show! We were beyond excited, and both a little worried because there was no way it could live up to our expectations. But WOW it did! The bailador (male dancer) was completely amazing. His feet moved so fast that they were actually blurry. The woman was also very good, but had a tough act to follow. They briefly danced together, and let the audience snap pictures during the last few minutes of the show.

Sora and I sat in front of a couple from California who were stopping in Sevilla for a few days during a month long trip from Portugal to a friend's house in Grenada. Rough life!

The group consisted of the two dancers, a singer, and a guitarist.

The guitarist and the dancer, with their groupies.

After the show (during which Sora told me she "was in love" many times), Sora asked if the dancer would mind a picture with us. Not only did he pose for a few pictures (showing his moves, no less), but he repeatedly told Sora how beautiful she was, and kissed her on both cheeks. Sora was swooning and promising never to bathe again for the rest of the night!

We had SLU Madrid friends who were also in Sevilla (that is Rosa in the picture), and they also came to the flamenco show. Afterwards, we went to a tapas bar that our hostel had recommended for cheap and authentic Spanish tapas... very tasty!

For our final morning, Sunday, Sora and I checked out of our hostal and headed to the Basilica de la Macarena, located on Calle Macarena (the orgin of the band of "Macarena" fame!). We unintentionally arrived just in time for their Spanish mass, which was a pleasant surprise. After mass we were able to take a few pictures of the small but ornate and important Basilica. The Basilica is at the center of Sevilla's famous Easter and Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations.
Mary at the altar, complete with crystal teardrops.

Sora and I, outside of the Basilica.

And, after another 6 hour bus ride, we arrived back in Madrid by 9pm--completely exhausted and totally pleased with our weekend.


  1. I heard Sevilla and obviously had to read your blog. Looks like you are having an amzaaaaing time over there! You made me homesick for Spain! Abby lived in an apartment in the Alcazar, and I lived right across the river in one of you pictures!! Enjoy the rest of your semester, and live it up girl!!

  2. Well, Libby...your blog puts my blog to shame, but I thoroughly enjoyed it. I plan to go to Sevilla at some point as well. I went on a day trip to Lorca on Saturday to see a castle, and I am LOVING Murcia. Hope you're continuing to have fun, and I would love to come visit you and Sora or have you come here or travel somewhere with you! Well, you and Rick...

  3. AHHHHH!!!!
    i want to go back i want to go back i want to go back....to SEVIILAAAA and to the baliador;) its AMOR.