Until recently, I had not known how enchanting Sevilla (or “Seville” to Americans). Sevilla is the fourth-largest city (population 703,021) in España (“Spain”) in the comunidad autónoma (there are 17 “autonomous communities”) of Andalucía (“Andalusia”).
For $96, I flew on the low-cost Transavia France from Paris to Aeropuerto de Sevilla (SVQ), which is only 10 kilometers (“16 miles”) from the most desired part of the city, although that is not where I am staying. Admittedly, my interest in this city peaked when I read that Travel + Leisure had this city as #7 in its “2014 World’s Best Cities” list.
The cities that are most charming and hospitable have:
- Tourist infrastructure – transportation and lodging
- Architecture and design
- Walkability – presenting a desire and ease to get around on foot.
Sevilla has all three aspects.
I am staying in the city for 74 hours. I found a sick deal where I secured three nights at the Hilton Garden Inn for $65 total. One would have trouble staying in a hostel at that low a price. The market rate would be about $218 total, so I crushed the value. As in all things in life though, there are trade-offs. In this case, the hotel is 5 kilometers northeast from the bustling Old Town. From SVQ to the hotel, I took an annoying €25 (“$31”) flat-rate taxicab. [Side rant: at least the sevillano driver has the decency to turn off the meter. At LAX (“Los Angeles International Airport”), the driver will run the meter, only to remind you that the flat fare is far more than the final reading!] The hotel is relatively isolated so I could not take a considerably cheaper bus.
For almost all travelers, I would highly recommend getting a room in the main part of the city. The Old Town is 4 square kilometers. My distance from this area has afforded me opportunities that I certainly would not have had otherwise, namely, making use of both bike and bus extensively. I shall write more about biking later. A taxicab would take 14 minutes and cost €10 each way. The bus costs €1.4, but it involves waiting at the stop like a poor person and going through a dozen stops that do not interest me. The whole thing takes about 35 minutes (“35 minutes”), but I do get to experience what it must feel like to be poor for that time, in addition to enjoying the view of the Rio Guadalquivir (“Guadalquivir River”). I rarely take a bus, but I once read that if taking it does not endeavor you to make money, nothing will.
The architecture in Sevilla has both Moorish and Spanish elements. The cathedral is Gothic.
There are only two tourist sites that you have to visit in Sevilla: Catedral de Santa María de la Sede y Reales Alcázares de Sevilla. After that, you will love Sevilla if you like to eat and drink and listen to music. This endless entertainment is why Sevilla is so famous and must contribute to lowly economic data. Spain unemployment is abysmal at 24.0% (only Greece is worse in Europe at 26.4%). The figure for Spanish youths is a hilarious 53.7%!.
Here’s the routine. You eat and drink until 16:30 (4:30 pm). Kitchens will close by 17:00 and reopen at 20:30. You take a siesta (“nap”) during that gap. Then, you eat and drink until midnight. Some bars and nightclubs stay open past sunrise.
These tapas bars and restaurants have seating on the cobblestones outside. The weather has hovered at 18 °C (“64 °F”). At night, I can get warm enough that I walk around in short sleeves. Some restaurants have a window-less sill in between the inside and outside. People will eat anywhere there is space.
The food here is 40% cheaper than in Paris. Americans are used to paying $8 for a glass of wine, but in Sevilla, a whole bottle will be served to you for €11, tax and gratuity included. Tapas are generally €3, although they can vary from €2 to €8. A tapa and a cerveza (“beer”) will run €6. A mojito costs €6. An individual can be filled with tapas and drink for €10 to €20.
I saw a flamenco show my first night. I may see another tomorrow night. They range from free (“buy a drink”) to €20. Flamenco was born in this region, in the same way that the tango is from Buenos Aires. It is less dancing and more guitar wizardry than I would have thought, although the shows vary in the mix. As an ignorant but appreciative dance viewer, I did not how much stomping was involved in the dance–it is quite loud. The associated singing borders on mumbling, but it has its effect.