As our children go through college, it’s become an all too familiar and faintly bittersweet joke to say that we want to come back as them. This may conveniently edit out exams, all-nighters, job searches and the rest of the hard parts but the point is that they are having an awful lot of fun these days especially when it comes to travel. And while reincarnation may be a theoretical way to re-balance the fun, I say why wait? Elizabeth Miller and family decided not to, choosing instead to join their older daughter Abby this past holiday season in Seville. Elizabeth does a great job of making Seville absolutely irresistible. Read on and you’ll see what I mean…oh and, in addition, to Elizabeth’s personally vetted restaurant recommendations we include a few links to restaurant as well as hotel ‘best of’ lists. You’ll find them at the bottom of this terrific post.
DECEMBER IN SEVILLE
My daughter Abby studied abroad last semester in Seville, Spain. Her program ended mid-December, so we decided to join her and spend the holidays together in Spain. I went mid-month and my husband and younger daughter joined us a week later. The morning I arrived, it was pouring rain, which I was told is very uncommon. Pouring rain on cobblestone streets and jet lag are not a pleasant combination. Abby and I ran inside a store by the name of Cortes Ingles to buy umbrellas, paid and went outside. They immediately flipped inside out, so much for the 20 or so euros we’d just spent. A note on Cortes Ingles, these stores are everywhere and the joke is, if you can’t find it there, then it doesn’t exist. They are similar to a department store with add-ons such as a grocery store in the basement, optician, florist, teeth whitening, card shop, oh, and they sell umbrellas.
While in Seville, we rented two apartments through AirBnb. Our first was in an area called Alameda de Hercules. We started each morning by going to a small corner shop for my daughter’s favorite breakfast which is toasted bread, a mild tomato sauce, olive oil and a pinch of salt on top, in Spanish it is 'una media de tostada con tomate titulado y aciete de oliva'. To drink we’d have cafe con leche and agua de grifo (tap water). Additions that my husband liked were jamon iberico (Iberian ham) and manchego cheese. After breakfast we’d head out for the day’s adventure. I was very thankful that my daughter became fluent in Spanish because Seville is a small city and very few people speak English. I absolutely love how they schedule their day, breakfast when you get up (the place we liked stopped serving it at 1:00 p.m.), lunch after 3:00 p.m., then siesta and dinner sometime after 9:30. Staying up until 2:00 a.m. was the norm.
The second apartment we rented is in a neighborhood called Barrio Santa Cruz.
This was our favorite neighborhood in Seville. It is an older section of the city and, in fact, the old Jewish Quarter, located right next to La Catedral, once a mosque, now the largest Catholic Cathedral in the world.
We’d spend our days on foot with a destination in mind but let ourselves be lured away if something else caught our eye. A favorite lunch spot we happened upon was called La Chala, tapas but not as traditional. For traditional tapas we’d recommend Los Coloniales, and be sure to order Patatas Bravas, potatoes with a delicious sauce I can’t quite explain. One of our favorite things to do in the evenings was to find a terraza, or rooftop terrace. The one we liked most was at EME Catedral Hotel, the view was spectacular. Places we’d recommend visiting are La Catedral, the Alcazar Palace, a walk across the river to Triana where they sell beautiful ceramics.
Also stop in the Hotel Alfonso XIII and Metropol Parasol, or as the Sevillanos call it las setas.
A few standouts in Seville were how many people spend their time outside. It’s said that in Seville, life is lived in the streets, it really seems to be. I was charmed by how many seniors would be accompanied by a younger friend or family member, linked arm-in-arm walking together. There were so many young parents out with their children in carriages at all times of the day and night. Also surprising was how inexpensive Seville is, a good glass of rioja was about 3 euro. And of course no tipping, but I had a hard time not leaving some coins. One of the funniest/strangest things to me were how many little dogs there were out with their people, dressed up, hair dyed and not on leashes. Some people would have multiple dogs and they’d just all walk together in a group. I’d like to know their secret.
Seville is small and areas of it are quaint and charming. Some neighborhoods have tiny winding streets that weave through the older parts of the city, and others sections of the city have large open areas and plazas where people gather around the shops and in cafes. We absolutely loved it!
HERE ARE A FEW LINKS TO