Monthly Archives: April 2012

Seville… a.k.a. “Sevilllllla”

Standard

With my imminent return to England, I thought I’d take a trip to one of the most loved places in Andalucia – the city of Seville.  Although only there for one night, I too did fall a little bit in love with the city.

The journey to Seville was an amazing thing in itself.  We had to travel through the inland city of Ronda to reach Seville, which involved the bus driving around mountains.  Normally a view I see from the plane, we travelled further and further up until it felt like I was on top of the world.

After a collective four hours of travelling, Rebekah and I finally reached the city of Seville.  Here are some of the things I loved about Seville.

If there is something Spain does well, and I can say this without a doubt, it’s that tapas are excellent!

And Seville did not disappoint!

A fancy Spanish take on fish and chips.

In a traditional tapas restaurant Casa Román’ in Plaza de las Venerables, I tried one of Seville’s specialities – solomillo al whisky – as the name suggests, strips of meat soaked in a spicy, whisky sauce.  But this description does not do justice to the taste – the juicy and delicious flavour that I’ve only ever experienced with meat cooked in whisky!  The following day we tried something a little different at a Gastrobar, this time treating us to a modern take on tapas, which was very different but just as delicious.  One to mention was the ‘baclao dorado’ [cod], which was served to me in a cocktail glass.  Yes, a serving of tasty cod, with a fried egg on top, sprinkled with crisps, in a cocktail glass.

The food fun didn’t stop there. A traditional and huge paella – always a Spanish favourite – and I agree!

 

 

 

 

After this particularly immense paella on Saturday night, we went for a wander around Seville in search of some night-time atmosphere in the city.  This soon became a fully fledged hunt as the city seemed strangely quiet.  Whether the Sevillanas were saving themselves for the Sevilla Feria that begins this week, I guess we’ll never know!  Eventually, we reached the ‘Alameda de Hercules’, another recommendation.  An area lined with a few bars and mostly ‘botellons’ in street, we stopped for what was an incredibly good mojito, before heading back to the hotel.  It seems that a mojito can be classed ‘as making the best of a situation’!

During our travels around the city, we passed the Real Maestranza bullring– one of the most famous bullrings in Andalucia, which attracts famous bull fighters from across the country.  Saturday was a particularly special day as the first bull fight of the season.  Spaniards were dressed up in their finest clothes and children were having their photos taken with the bull ring in the background.  Yet, as we walked further down the road, we saw the stirrings of what became an anti-bullfighting protest.  Police had closed off the street for the equally large crowd of people walking in the direction of the bullring blowing whistles, waving flags and chanting things like “Andalucía, anti-taurina” and declaring that bullfighting is “ni arte ni cultura”.

Entrance of the Real Maestranza Bull Ring in Seville

Anti-taurina protest down Paseo de Colón.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As in most cities, there were some truly breathtaking sights.

Really, really tall.

The Real Alcazar was something incredibly spectacular – a beautiful palace with intricate carvings and giant tapestries hanging on the walls.  Even more astounding were the Gardens of the Alcazar, so expansive that we seemed to walk through them for hours.  We came across water fountains – large and small, beautiful flowers and perfectly bloomed roses, vast grassy areas with only the sound of the birds tweeting, as well as amazing views, mosaic benches and some of the tallest palm trees that I have ever seen towering over me.

And then there are the plazas [squares].  Ah, the plazas – one of my favourite things about Spain.

One of the first plazas we stumbled upon was the Plaza de Salvador.  A huge plaza right next to Church of Salvador, and in true Sevillan style, I hear, it was full of people gathered around chatting in the sun and sipping on a cerveza or some tinto verano.  It was pretty cool, and they made drinking in the streets in the middle of the day seem like the most civilised thing!

But, I leave the best until last.  By far the most fantastic sight was the Plaza de España.  After a day of travelling and exploring the city, this is the last place we reached, following so many recommendations.  As we walked through Maria Luisa Park, it was like approaching Disneyland as the plaza became increasingly more visible to us artistically framed between two palm trees.

Plaza de España, Seville

In the middle stood a grand, and given the 30 degree weather, cooling fountain.  In the area around the fountain, couples, friends and families enjoyed horse and carriage rides and rowing around the canal which runs within the plaza.  For a good while we lay on the bench just enjoying the calming and wonderful atmosphere of the Plaza de España, before crossing the bridge to see the 48 mosaic alcoves for each Spanish province.  Of course, I paid particular attention to Malaga stopping for a photo with my home for the last 9 months.

The province of Malaga's presence in the impressive Plaza de España

So Andalucia delivers another excellent city.  As I said to my manager after the trip, “there’s not one city in Andalucia that I’ve visited and not loved”. 🙂

Carnivals, Museum & “Pareeee”

Standard

So, once again, I was caught up in things going on during my year abroad that my blog became a little neglected.  But how do I summarise the last, pretty excellent month?

Well, beginning around the 18th February 2012, Rebekah, Emma and I headed to the CADIZ CARNIVAL.  And capitalised it should be – this huge event fills the city of Cadiz with people from all over the world who come together, dressed up in admirable fancy dress outfits, to celebrate the culture of the carnival, chill in the streets and have a memorable trip!  Although there are carnivals all over the country in February, Cadiz has a reputation of being the biggest and the best, and we were not let down.  I link now to Rebekah’s guest blog for Andalucia.com, who captures the craziness of Cadiz Carnival perfectly.

Celebrations in Cadiz Carnival!

I can’t say it’s been all play… we do work here too!  I’ve found myself visiting museums again – one in particular I have visited three times now!  In early March, the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga hosted a press release for their new temporary exhibition, in time for the celebrations of their first birthday.  During the guided tour around the Museum, by a professor from the University of Malaga, I found myself becoming a little art lover [as I type this, Mum is hysterical with laughter at the thought of a cultured daughter].  He went around explaining the details of the Baroness’ collection of works, describing the traits and the feelings of the paintings and the artists’ intentions.  It was all very interesting and I found myself taking in everything he said, so much so that he could have said something completely random, and I probably would have still nodded in agreement.  Anyway, when writing my guest blog for Andalucia.com, I quite enjoyed my exploration into Spanish culture through art, which is exactly what you can experience at the Carmen Thyssen Museum in Malaga.

And saving the best until last, PARIS!  One of the best things about International Business at the University of Warwick is the compulsory three-day seminar held in Disneyland Paris.  Held between Monday and Thursday, I made the most of the opportunity for a weekend in city of Paris!  A first time visitor, and complete tourist, I had my heart set on visiting the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre-dame… in one day.  And, in fact, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease with which you can get around the city.  Anisha and I managed to see the Arc de Triomphe and walk down the lavish Champs-Elysses following our touch-down in Paris.  On my student budget, and frankly not being a millionaire, it was an afternoon of window shopping as I compiled my wish list for fancy cars, Cartier diamonds and…. a taste of every burger from the all-burger restaurant (and exciting prospect for me!)

The following day was a whirlwind of walking, monuments… and rain!  I didn’t quite picture my first Eiffel Tower experience wrapped in my coat, and still freezing, and gripping onto my umbrella for dear life.  But, despite all of that, I couldn’t help but enjoy the wonder of Notre-Dame and the Louvre, the relaxed charm of the Latin Quarter, the beautiful places we came across and the romance of the city.

Notre Dame, and even more amazing inside.

Eiffel Tower on a grey Paris day

Eiffel Tower on a grey Paris day

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All of this was made better by the croissants, pain au chocolat and, for the child in me, the build up to Disneyland Paris.  The last time I visited Disneyland, I was an excitable toddler who loved the magic of it all, and dangerously my expectations of Disneyland were based on the memories of that toddler.  Needless to say, things had changed slightly.  Firstly, I was the same height as the characters, if not taller.  I could see the human face inside Goofy’s mouth, and Goofy was a little too friendly in a whole other way!  The magic was wearing thin slightly through my adult eyes.

Goofy playing up for us during a buffet at the Disneyland Hotel

Though, I’m sure my classmates can vouch for the fact that I clung onto the magic as hard as I could, and soon enough it became effortless.  I smiled and excitedly waved at my favourite Disney characters as they passed by me on their floats during the Disney parade, I waited patiently to have my photo taken with each character and I queued up for the rides.  Be it flying over the Peter Pan story, spinning in the tea cup, being frightened in the haunted mansion, and my personal ‘favourite’, learning all about the different cultures of the world from manic, smiling dolls, alongside the soundtrack of “It’s a small world”.  An experience I will never forget.

My moment with Aladdin, complete with a wink and wave in my direction. Disneyland - where dreams come true!!

There was quite a deal of work involved in this three-day seminar: early starts, presentations, group work, reading – but all a lot more enjoyable in Disneyland!  In fact, maybe fourth year lectures could be held in Disneyland… that’d be nice.