Seville – Bring your ‘A’ wardrobe

This is not an easy city to get to, direct flights are from Gatwick (Ryanair or Easyjet) or Stansted (Ryanair) taking about 2.45 hours otherwise it’s a bit of a tour of Europe and can take anything between 15 – 31 hours!  I used to search for my flights. 
Seville is full of beautiful buildings like the Cathedral and the Plaza de Espana, many of the walls are adorned with amazing tile work showing the Arabic heritage of the city.  There are plenty of horse and carriage rides on offer – though on a hot day in a downwind the smell of horse pee could burn your eyebrows off.  There is a tram system through the city and a very good Metro for those whose hotel is a little further out.  I would say just wander around on foot, take a left instead of a right and discover pretty parks to sit in the shade and the many gift shops for all your fan/castanet/mini flamenco dress needs.  There are 2 companies that do city bus tours, we went with City Sightseeing at €18 for 2 days, lucky we did as on the Saturday trip the heavens opened and every passenger ended up downstairs not able to see out of steamed up windows or plug in our complimentary headphones for the tour report.  Our 2nd attempt on the Sunday was more successful and it is worth going.
This was my first visit to Spain and I had no idea what to expect, certainly not that I would feel woefully underdressed!  This is a peacock city, best shod foot forward and never knowingly a hair out of place. Me in my Primark t-shirt dresses or shorts and vest felt very poorly turned out.  To blend in I would suggest for day dress as if going to a 21st birthday barbeque and for evening full on family wedding reception.  Shorts should be silky patterned or layered lacy style with a cute tangerine or pastel top, skirts are flippy and dresses are, in the day, of the tea variety and in the evening practically Prom.  And that is just for weekdays, on a Friday and Saturday night it felt like the Oscars. 
No one goes out to eat before 8pm and at the weekends this goes even later to maybe 10pm and this is a whole family event, children, babies, grandparents and all sitting outside the many tapas bars spilling on to the roads (not that this is really an issues as it is such a pedestrianised city, most common transport being the scooters or horse and carriage drivers) and EVERYONE smokes all the time, everywhere (though not inside venues) which was a bit of a surprise.
Eating out is so easy, wander down one of the many twisting cobbled streets and you will have so many tapas bars to choose from, and the menu is usually on a chalk board propped against the door, many giving the Spanish name then in English underneath.  We tended to sit at one, choose a dish (about €3) and have a drink (Sangria mainly – for a jug ask “Jarra (pronounce harra) de Sangria por favour – usually around €10 – €12), then stroll about and find another and do it again, our favourite street was Mateos Gago and the Cafe Tomate tapas bar.  Mas Q Meno, a café on the right side of the Cathedral was disappointing with bottled sangria and a sliced meat baguette filler that could have been ham/turkey/chicken and yet the prices were 2 or 3 euro’s more expensive, I guess you pay for the view. For a more formal dining experience we went to a very pretty Italian restaurant; L’Oca Giuliva (also in Mateos Gago).  Either make a reservation of be prepared to queue from 8pm, this place is justifiably popular and be careful when ordering as the servings are very generous, we decided on a sharing platter of mixed meats and cheese and when it arrived it was like a galleon sat between us, a quarter of a melon draped in hams, sliced meats and 3 different cheeses, bread sticks and a deep fired pastry something which was delicious but unidentifiable, this would have been better suited as a shared dish for 4 or even 6!  We had already ordered a main dish so we tried a little of everything but in no way could we finish it and attempt another mouthful.  Again portions were big, the beef steak was huge and the calzone was over the edge of the already generous sized plate.  All in all, with 2 beers and 3 glasses of house white the bill came to €65.  If you can’t hold out till 8pm to eat there is a nice Mexican place, again on the right of the cathedral, called Iguanas Ranas Cantina that is open from 11am to midnight and you get a free frozen margarita if you order food.  In all the places we ate and drank in the common factor was the friendliness of the people working there, every place was welcoming and kind to our stumbling attempts at Spanish.
For the sight of the tiniest cocktail waitress ever carrying a tray of 2/3 full spirit bottles, mixers and glasses full of ice on one hand while she mixes your chosen cocktail go past the bullring, cross the road when you see O’Neills Irish bar (huge screens for sport events) opposite and on the left is a street called Paseo Cristobal Colon and there are a row of tapas/cocktail bars and this is the 3rd along (building number 5) and they also provide hookahs but I can’t remember what it is called – Barah or similar I think !!
All in all a very pretty city for a long week/short city break or as part of a tour of Spain
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