We arrived in Seville on Friday welcomed by extreme heat and humidity. Spain was really putting us Aussies to the test! This was where were really able to perfect our Spanish siesta ways, catering a few hours of nap slash TV time in the afternoons into any of our plans. Definitely the way to go.
Our first night we signed up for a Tapas and Wine tour in the hope that we would eat good food and meet new people. Turns out that our hostel would organise things with ten other hostels to get enough people. So our cool host to the meeting area guided Elly and me, hopefully to meet a lot of other people and it not just be us two! Thankfully a whole bunch rocked up but then we felt like we were the new kids and everyone else had already got into little groups! Disaster.
Our first location was unfortunately outside and NOT under conveniently places 'people sprinklers'. The 36-degree NIGHT was not ideal for these conditions and produced a good layer of sweat on the bottom of our seats. Not a pretty sight, especially when trying to make friends! We were provided with jugs of Sangria (always a good sign) and plates of food to share. Sharing with strangers… not always easy. You try being really polite but at the same time Elly and I were both really hungry! Also the tapas we were giving we not ideal for the sharing factor. They were all things like mountains of vegetables or meat and salad and deep fried cheese. Very yummy but awkward to have to divide up evenly! We left the first place pretty unsatisfied and hoped that things would improve..
Which they didn't. More awkward tapas and coke substitutes (no, Pepsi is NOT ok) and on top of this: EXTREME HEAT. Not that great an investment for our night but we did end up meeting a couple of nice Americans (shock, horror) and decided to head to our air-conditioned room for salvation.
Our hostel was not too bad. We were both super excited to have a private room and not be in a 6-bed dorm and have to worry about anyone else. Unfortunately our private room was in an entirely other building, nowhere near wireless (the most important feature of a hostel) and up two very steep set of stairs. We were provided with a rooftop terrace in the main building and Friday night we signed up for a rooftop BBQ with the promise of meet, fish, vegetarian options and cheap sangria and 8.30. So we arrive keen for our feast at 8,30 on the dot. Bit too keen apparently as there was no one (or food) in sight. An hour later some salads and dip were laid out and we got stuck into it with our new friend Berta. Little did we know this was actually ALL we were provided with!!! Nooooooooo. This did not live up to Aussie barbeques, let alone ANY barbeques I had heard of. They didn't even USE a barbeque!!! So the three of us left in protest and sought out the nearest crepe and churros shop to indulge in. FAIL.
The next day I investigated some of the suggested places to go in Seville including Castillo de San Jorge (the inquisition museum), Metropol Parasol (the 'mushroom' building for a panorama), Plaza de Espana and the Maria Luisa Park, Cathedral and Giralda Tower and Los Reales Alcazar. Most of these places were covered on the walking tour we were intending on taking the next day so I thought we could go early to walk to the Mushroom building and then when it got hotter go to the inquisition museum. Unfortunately we go super lost in the streets and had to ask for help. And by we I mostly mean me. The problem with the maps is that there are all these tiny streets to walk around that cant possible be named on the map! SO you end up doing laps left right and centre through the heart of Seville. Not so bad. So by the time we found the building, walked around the top, took a panorama, and trekked it across the other side of town to the museum it was closing!!! Disaster. Sooo the day I was given any responsibility turned out to be a bit of a disaster but we got to see a lot of the town!
Next day we went on a walking tour to see the Cathedral, Torre del Oro, the river, S. Telmo's palace, the Royal Tobacco Factory, Plaza Espana and the Maria Luisa Park. Back in the day Seville used to be the major port where ships would have to bring all their products from South America to be taxed. It thrived as the largest city in Spain and then half the population got wiped out from the black plague! Other than that we didn't learn much more from our walking tour guide and we left early to try and quickly make it to the inquisition museum. JUST in time, and got to have a look around some old ruins. But mostly there wasn't much information on what actually happened in the Spanish inquisition other than they predictions of what the ruins would have been used for. We left glad we didn't have to pay for it!!!
Next day we took a day trip to the nearby town of Cordoba where there was a mosque that they had turned into a cathedral. The town had a lot of rich history and interesting places to visit and experience. The streets we very traditional and had a lot more of a Moroccan feel as we spent the morning exploring them. Exploring is one word but getting lost is probably another… We wanted to explore these gardens located next to the old royal stables so we walked down a street to a dead end, round the back to a current stable we turned around at, down under a bridge and along a derelict street passed an old man who gestured at us to keep going and finally found an old passage that led us to a main street and back to where we start, no where close to getting in the gardens! Turns out to had to pay to go into the castle and then visit the gardens. Unfortunately I had left my student card back in Australia and couldn't use it to pay half price so opted out of it while Elly explored.
Here we actually visited a really cool inquisition museum with all the torture instruments they used accompanied by gruesome details of how they would crush peoples skulls so the brains squeezed out and instruments that would stretch them out of needles until all their bones broke or the simplest one of tying their hand behind their back and dropping them so that their shoulders would dislocate! Soooo gruesome but sooo cool!!! Definitely one of the more interesting museums we have visited.
On our second last night we chose to give the hostel one more chance to actually organise something good and we went to the Flamenco night. AMAZING!!! Seriously the most incredible thing. We were seated in this sort of sport club type room with seats just set around a small wooden stage and 4 seats. The performers came out and started with a vocal performance where one guy sang and amazing traditional Spanish song, one guy played the Spanish guitar expertly and a guy and a girl accompanied with rhythmic clapping and foot stomping and encouraging cries. VERY intense! The singer was amazing, soooo much voice control!
Next the female got up and danced traditional flamenco to the music with finger clicks, dress swishes, feet stomping and arm waving. The look on her face was sooo focused, you could see she was just putting everything into the dance. And it was incredible. Next the male got up and it was an entirely different vibe! It was so powerful and strong and intense!!! I was immediately in love haha He was stomping and waving his arms and jumping around (but of course looking very coordinated) and all of this worked up SUCH a sweat! He was DRIPPING with sweat! It would have been super gross if it weren't for the fact that we could totally understand why. Elly and I had nabbed first row seats which meant with every fast turn we would be showered with a light spray, which would have been welcoming in the heat if it hadn't been sweat…
They finished off with a traditional partner dance that we were able to film, which was a perfect finale to the night. AMAZING! Probably one of my favourite things I have seen in Spain and something so rich in culture! Great way to end our Spanish adventure. Next stop MOROCCO!!!