What a thrill to walk down the boulevards of Seville with the scent of oranges in the air. The wonderful fruit contrast beautifully with the almost guaranteed azure blue skies and the leaf green of their foliage. We arrived in January to coincide with our annual sojourn for our anniversary. We settled on the 5 star Palacio de Villapanes in Calle Santiago.
It is a 19th century building based on a moorish courtyard design with beautifully appointed rooms. Huge wrought iron gates make you feel like royalty as you walk through them into the open air courtyard complete with sparkling fountain. As we were celebrating the manager gave us an upgrade to a Palacio Junior Suite, a huge room with separate dressing area, large freestanding bath and the best multi jet shower I have ever had. Our room overlooked an ancient well that was situated in an interior courtyard and this was where the southern pilgrim Santiago de Compostela route started, over time the starting point moved to the cathedral. It was sobering thinking about all the pilgrims that had come to that very spot before embarking on their walk of devotion, its guardians now a couple of white doves that would sit on top and then swoop to bathe in the fountain waters. Our breakfast was not included so every morning we would walk a different way from the hotel to discover our place to eat. Breakfast in Seville is very cheap, tostado, juice and coffee was about 3 euros.
The staff at the hotel are super friendly and the bar staff are so good at making yummy gin and tonics. My favourite is Gin Mare but I caught sight of a wonderful old looking bottle, square glass and a great logo. It was a London Gin but one I had not heard of. I googled the name on the back of the bottle and it turns out it is made not far from Seville in the heart of sherry country. Jerez! It was a delicious gin full to bursting with botanicals. The lovely girl at the bar, sorry forgot her name, was superb at making the G&T’s with perfection. She would put pink peppercorns, primroses, berries and fever tree tonic and make it the best mix ever. Feast your eyes on this!
We did walk ALOT during our weeks stay, traversing the centre of Seville, but as I love the tourist bus we had to do that too. We opted for the Seville bus which is green as we got 2 for 1 on the tickets costing 18 euros for 2 days. There are three different lines, a walking tour and a night tour so is excellent value. The buses are a bit older and the commentary is a patchwork of different voices but the information is of great benefit. We learnt about the historical past of Seville, and you could imagine the wonderful goods being delivered by Phonecian, Roman and Moorish merchants. Then the galleons in the time of Christopher Colombus. Indeed he studied before his second voyage in the convent across the river. He is also buried in the vast cathedral.
We wandered along the streets in the area of Triana, named after Trajan the Roman Emperor. It is a bright and buzzing place, just across the river. We were in search of a cigar shop for Mr B as grumpiness was starting to set in with our marathon walking so I googled the cigar shops in town. The Calle Betis cigar shop is on the lovely promenade a bit further down than the swanky Abade Triana restaurant. As we walked past, Mr B pulled me towards the menu. “Shall we go here for our anniversary?”. “Yes, looks lovely, let’s go and book.” The staff were very friendly and booked us in for the Thursday evening and showed us the river view tables for which a premium is paid but includes a drink and coffee. Perfect! The tasting menu with wine looked amazing. The cigar shop was only a few minutes down the road and was tiny but had a humidore. A good sign. Mr B bought himself some Romeo and Juliet cigars, Davidoff and La Paz his go to quick cigar. With a very happy Mr B we walked back across the bridge and towards the El Corte Ingles store. Bargains were to be had, but I didn’t buy. I was holding out for the perfect gift for my anniversary present. Jewelry perhaps?
One of the charming things at the weekend is watching the chestnut sellers on the street corners with their homemade stoves and curled paper cones. They tasted delicious too, especially the charred ones, they were extra sweet.
After we spent a long time eating tapas and drinking red Rioja at a delightful cafe we decided to head back to the hotel. However, we saw a group of people queueing and thinking it was a music venue went to investigate. It was the Museum of Flamenco and a performance was about to start in one minute. We hurriedly bought the last two tickets and entered the small, dark space with a balcony and rectangular shaped stage almost in the crowd. What a wonderful intimate venue for such a passionate dance. ‘Flamenco is a feeling’ we were told on the bus commentary. How true that was, from the moment the guitarist, singer and dancers appeared on stage and started to work their magic, you were immediately taken on a journey. Passion, emotion, and the percussion of their shoes striking the wooden floor transported you to ancient Andalucia. A member of the audience, who was clearly a flamenco guitarist judging by his beautiful long nails for picking out the notes, shouted out an appreciative ‘Olé’ when the drama got intense. It was fantastic and at the end another flamenco dancer in plain clothes got up and started dancing spontaneously. Seville is a wonderful city, full of history, great tapas, passionate flamenco and those orange trees! The scent will forever transport me to the land of Andalucia.