Our third stop on our journey around southern Spain was Sevilla. Sevilla was by far my favorite city. When I first started taking Spanish in sixth grade, I was graced with learning from a teacher who would become one of my all-time favorites. She studied at the University of Sevilla so finally being there made me think of her and her belief in my Spanish skills, even when I was just a little middle schooler.
The weather in Sevilla was beautiful and warm and I loved everything about it from the get-go. Sevilla is how I imagined all of Spain to look: vibrant colored buildings, beautiful weather, traditions and history etc. Sevilla is what the rest of the world sees as Spain and as I’ve seen more and more of the country, not everywhere is the stereotypical look. The first place we visited was La Maestranza. La Maestranza is the bull fighting arena in Sevilla and is the second most important in all of Spain. [The first is Las Ventas, located in Madrid. It’s really close to my house here!] We took a tour of the ring and learned about the traditions of bullfighting and how the bulls are killed. Spoiler alert: the bulls die in bull fights. If you’re looking at my shirt and panicking a little bit because I wore red in a bull fighting ring, have no fear; there were no bulls there. It’s not toreo season yet.
Then for lunch we trolled around the city center and ate some traditional food of southern Spain. We had Gazpacho. It was at this moment when I re-fell in love with Sevilla. I had never had Gazpacho before but I LOVED it. It was one of the greatest foods I’ve ever had and I’ve already roped my dad into making some for me over the summer. Gazpacho is a cold tomato based soup, traditionally eaten in the summer, but the weather was so nice that it worked. I downed mine and didn’t even flinch. Get at me, bro. Anyway, the weird thing about gazpacho is that you’re not supposed to eat with a spoon. You dunk crackers or bread in it but for the most part, you drink it. It was served to me in a wine glass so that was an interesting cultural experience for me. But really, if you have the opportunity to have gazpacho, I highly recommend it.
After lunch, we saw another Cathedral. For those of you who actually read my blog, I hope you see the pattern of sites we go see. This cathedral was cool because it is the biggest Gothic church in the world. And it has the Giralda. The Giralda is currently the cathedral’s bell tower but it used to be the minaret of the mosque but was transformed into a cathedral and bell tower once Sevilla was reconquered. We got to climb to the top of the tower, like we did in Segovia. The difference between this tower is that there weren’t steps, but ramps instead. So we hiked more than 30 ramps up to the top to overlook all of Sevilla. Fun Fact: the Giralda had ramps instead of stairs because when the Muslims would announce prayer time from the top of the tower, they rode horses.
The last part of Sevilla was actually the next morning when we visited the Reales Alcázares. This castle and garden was beautiful and is still in use today! When the royal family comes to Sevilla, they stay in this castle and then tours are shut down. There was a gigantic hedge maze that we walked through that reminded me of Alice in Wonderland. The architecture was once again beautiful and the whole palace looked like it had been taken out of a completely different era and dropped into the 21st century. My favorite part was the little lake with a flume shooting water near the front of the royal building. There were carp in the lake and when we started to feed them bread, schools of them came to the surface. Codfish are single handedly the ugliest fish on the planet and they eat by sucking the bread into their mouths…ew. But our group just had a blast hanging out there and looking at the beautiful surroundings.
The last thing we saw in Sevilla was the Plaza de España. This plaza had a huge fountain and was just generally awesome. We walked around and took our pictures and then all of us laid out on the steps, basking in the sun and enjoying the relaxation of the plaza. There was music playing and people going for a casual Sunday stroll and I was working on my tan. Listen, anything to get rid of this winter white, you know what I mean? Something that’s really cool about this plaza is there is a scene from Star Wars II: Clone Wars there as the set of Naboo. Look at the picture and then click on the hyperlink and you’ll realize they are one and the same!
After we saw the Alcázares and Plaza, myself and a few other girls loaded up our stuff and were on a bus home headed to Madrid. Unfortunately, we couldn’t stay with the other kids as they travelled on to Lisbon, Portual because we had our business class on Monday morning. But all in all, the trip to Andalucia was wonderful! Though I won’t get to revisit these provinces again while I’m here this semester, I am going to Malaga, another Andalucia province, in May. Stay tuned for that!