This is the third time I have visited the city of Seville but the previous two were just for 24 hours. This time I had the luxury of three full days. Wonderful.
I am probably not allowed professionally to have favourite cities but, if I were, Seville would be right up there with my top five.
I just love everything about it. The magnificent grand buildings, some going back many centuries, and others like Plaza Espana a more recent 1929 development, although it looks much older. You have the small streets in the old city with its unique shopping. The restaurants, literally everywhere, and so lively, even at midnight (In this part of Spain dining before 10 pm is almost unheard of). The food, especially the fish dishes. Not forgetting the people who have a real love of life. Then there is the history and overall passion of the place.
And of course the weather – here for 10 months of the year it is hot & hotter, with the mid-summer months having especially high temperatures. During my stay the days were in excess of 30 degrees, dropping to a pleasant 22 at night.
Seville probably has more churches than anyway else in Spain of comparable size, I think 115.
In every direction, you will see spires dominating the skyline and many of design in the grand baroque style. The most popular is the Cathedral. It started life as a mosque, as did many in southern Spain, way back in 1182. After the Christian (re)conquest of the south, in 1484, it becomes one of the most establishment focal points of the catholic faith. It is a fantastic building. To me, it is only rivalled by the cathedral in Toledo. Even if you are not catholic or Christian you cannot fail to be impressed. The remains of Christopher Columbus are here, complete with an ornate resting place
So to my itinerary. Flew on EasyJet. I like the airline, they deliver what they say. Comfortable aircraft for short flights (this was 2 hours). The cabin crew are attentive and on-time arrival and departure record impressive. As usual, every seat appeared to be taken.
A short 20-minute transfer from the airport to my host hotel, Gran Melia Colon. I have stayed here before. Really liked the combination of history and contemporary styles and brilliant location. Easy walk to the river or the shopping district.
Then visited Tolentino hats. This is a small very upscale millinery shop, all hand made on the premises. And some world famous names and pictures dotted around the walls. My grandmother was a milliner so it brought back some memories, especially in the back cutting & design room.
From there I walked to the boutique hotel Corral del Ray hotel. Small, highly individual, 17 rooms spread over 3 buildings. Two connecting and the other facing across the pedestrian street. Lovely. Perfect for those who really want a unique historical and personalised experience. Just a few minutes walk to the cathedral.
After that, short walk through the small streets of the old quarter to reach the Hotel Alfonso X111. This is probably the best-known luxury hotel in the city. A combination of the traditional especially in the public areas with good modern rooms. The gardens are spacious and have a swimming pool. Many alfresco dining areas to choose from. Wonderful meal.
Next day off to see Alcazar (Royal Palace) and the cathedral. Get your tickets in advance to avoid most of the long queues. Both are impressive, totally justifying their popularity.
Then it was heading out of town for 30 minutes.
Seville is the 4th largest city in Spain with a population of 1.3 million including the metropolitan areas (the largest is Madrid with 6.5m, Barcelona with 5m and Valencia at 1.7m ).
Seville appears much smaller and within minutes you are in arable farmland. I was surprised to see how many cotton fields there were. Apparently they export to India! Plus lots of wind turbos and fields of solar panels.
Lunch was at Cortijo el Esparragal. This is a family-owned hacienda, with a 400-year-old history. Seville is only 30 minutes drive away, but here, apart from the small on-site chapel, no churches, you just have fields of fruits and vegetables, cows and bulls. You can hire a bike to cycle around the estate, or with a guided ride on one of the horses. 21 rooms, all different. Large garden and swimming pool. Wonderful. The perfect retreat for someone wanting to be close to town but not in it. Ideally located to explore the countryside.
After that, a different form of culture – off to see football, Real Betis V Eibar. There are two teams in Seville, Betis and Sevilla. Both are the top Liga, but Betis in the lower half. The atmosphere was magnificent. A stadium buzzing and full of passion and noise. Pity the same passion could not be found on the pitch, average 1-1 draw and not one player I would suggest Fulham looking at. Walked the 4 miles back to the hotel and not a wrong turn , always a good sign you are getting to know the place . Kick-off was 9 pm, the match ended at 11 pm, but the streets were full. Nice walk along the riverside. So many good restaurants and bars , it was Friday night and absolutely buzzing .
Next morning time for a visit to Plaza Espana, followed by a boat trip on the Guadalquivir river (a different way to see the city), disembarked on the opposite bank at Triana, close to the Castile St Jorge ( George ). This was the home of the inquisition, so has quite a morbid past. Now above the museum, you have a lively fruit and fish market, Triana Mecado. It was lively and totally authentic. More locals than tourists which added to the atmosphere of the place, but there are plenty of more modern and similar concepts placed around the city. I don’t think you can walk more than 20 yards in Seville without finding somewhere to eat, and all look inviting. (Apart from Burger King or McDonald’s but at least they keep the American’s happy).
There are several boat companies for river excursions but check out Guadaluxe (https://guadaluxe.com/) , nice small boat , seats max 50 , comfortable and open sided so you get good views
Then walked back across to the old city and visited the workshop Lina 1960. Their speciality is making Flamenco dresses, again interesting, especially as I got to meet the owners and one of their top models. At least it keeps the heart in working order.
This was followed by a walk to Metropol Parasol. This is like a modern honeycomb design, with bridges and walkways, elevated cafes and some good views. See the introduction image. An interesting contrast to the heritage style buildings that abound in the city. In this city centre area, you find good shopping, ranging from department shops, individual boutiques and market stalls
I then visited the new H10 hotel. Really liked it. Good for old town atmosphere, surrounded by little streets. Only been open for 6 months but starting to catch the attention. Nice quirky art, traditional-looking at first until you notice things like headphones, sun shades and mobile phones.
After that, free time to see more hotels. I think I was getting tired so nothing impressed, sometimes the reality is so detached from the publicity.
Then it was off to Flamenco show. Started with a private lesson. I used to pride myself on my natural sense of rhythm but I was truly hopeless. I do find following instructions difficult – I know many of you will not be surprised – but this was embarrassing. And worse, many of the audience had turned their chairs to watch! I was like a comedy turn but at least 95% would have been encouraged to try it.
The night ended with a truly fantastic meal back at my host hotel, Gran Melia Colon. I had octopus and some superb red wine. And then it was finally to bed for a relatively early night (anything before midnight is early here) to pack and return to London the following day. Again full flight on EasyJet.
Seville is just a wonderful city. It should be a must-see on any travel list. It now has overtaken Barcelona for year-round popularity and the hotels currently command the highest average rate in Spain. I just love everything about the place: the buildings, the sense of history, the truly unique experiences. Total fun and enjoyment, seemingly at every corner. The weather, & any excuse for a party lifestyle.
At Chic we shall be expanding our coverage of the region, so much more to be seen.
Particular thanks to the Spanish Tourist Office, Tourism de Sevilla & the Tourism Province of Seville for a superb trip and hospitality, so well organised at every turn or should I say, twist, finger click, a stamp of the feet and click of the heels!