Seville is the beautiful capital city of Aldalusia, southern Spain, and the winner of Lonely Planet’s best place to visit in 2018. I didn’t know this when I planned my visit; rather, I wanted to go somewhere warm, and when I realised that Seville was one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones’s Dorne, I knew I had to give it a visit.
In the spirit of travelling cheap, the journey started with a 3am bus from Prague to Berlin (yes, I live in Prague again now!) with the Student Agency, where I watched Wonderwoman, a brief stop at the airport for breakfast, and a 3 hour flight to Seville. Ryanair had kindly separated me from my travel partner by 30 rows because I didn’t want to pay $12 for an assigned seat, which might have been OK had the seat next to me not been completely empty. Feeling that this was taking the biscuit a bit, we moved seats once we were in mid-air, only to be told by a stern flight attendant that we had better return to our assigned seats for landing.
We arrived in Seville by around 2pm and took the bus into the centre (it’s easy – just look for bus signs when you arrive and pay €4). I was struck as soon as I got off the bus by how beautiful the city was. I wasn’t used to seeing palm trees and Moorish architecture, and the fact that it was so bright I had to view everything through the orange tint of my sunglasses put me instantly into holiday mode.
Seville was actually under Muslim (Moorish) rule from the 8-13th centuries, so a lot of the architecture is heavily influenced by that, although there are also a lot of Renaissance and baroque buildings that appeared in the 16th and 17th centuries. OK, that’s enough of me pretending I know anything about buildings – please check out some other sources if you want history!
The first day was mostly just spent wandering around, looking at pretty things. Behold:
It seemed that every corner we turned around revealed some new, pretty buildings – as well as tourists being pulled around by horses and carts, taking selfies, cheap souvenir shops and all the usual. Still, considering that we were wandering around the centre, tapas was surprisingly cheap everywhere – perhaps €2-3 per plate, and often 3 plates were enough for two of us.
To cope with the heat, I tried to do as the Spanish do and have a siesta. However, by the time we re-emerged from our dungeon (the hotel didn’t provide us with windows), I was almost too exhausted to do anything again. As I wandered around, I realised that Spanish life picks up at around 9 or 10pm, and as we made our way back to bed I could see entire families starting their dinner. What amazed me was children playing in parks, conveniently located next to the bars, full of energy even at 11pm. Much to my annoyance, the grandchildren of the hotel owners seemed to share this energy and didn’t stop screaming, playing and crying until around 1am.
The following day was 15th August, the Day of the Assumption, where we could have seen colourful parades at 8am – had we had the energy to get up. However, we were exhausted, so our plan to watch the parades and then get to the Alcazar by 9am were scuppered and we finally emerged from our room at 10.
The Alcazar is perhaps Seville’s most popular attraction – perhaps more so now that it appeared in Game of Thrones as the Water Gardens of Dorne. See here some GoT scenes:
If you want to visit the Alcazar, it’s a good idea to splash out on a guided tour (to skip the queues) or to turn up early – we ended up waiting for 90 minutes in line just to get in. However, once inside, you can easily spend hours there getting lost in the various courtyards, ornate rooms, and the sprawling gardens. It’s hard to believe that the Alcazar dates back over 1000 years! It’s a truly stunning place to spend a day, although I’d advise you to sneak in some water and snacks, because the cafe in there was really expensive..
After walking around for a while, we headed to Plaza de España, which was also stunning. There were people on gondolas, beautiful pink flowers, and a lot of tile. They really love tile in Spain and Portugal, so much so that you’ll find churches completely covered in it.
What I found most fascinating was that when you walk around the exterior of the building and get closer to the arches, you find a sort of “seat” that’s intricately decorated for each of Spain’s towns and cities:
After that, we were suddenly so exhausted that we decided to have a mini siesta again, only to find out from Google maps that we had walked 25km that day! However, after a brief rest, we went back out to check out the Alameda de Hercules – a big, open square with a lot of food options. Looking for a vegetarian option, or at least somewhere with more on the veggie tapas menu than patatas bravas and salad, we searched around until we found Duo Tapas, which had a pretty extensive vegetarian list of options and was very nice.
We wandered around for a while after that, noticing again how the children played in the parks until midnight while the parents sipped wine and ate tapas with their friends. Young couples were out having ice-cream at midnight as if it was the middle of the afternoon, and I couldn’t help but compare this to the UK, where many high street shops and cafes close before even 6pm, pubs are shut by 11, and midnight is more likely to bring you into contact with a drunk fight outside a kebab shop than a family eating strawberry gelato and sipping espresso.
You also have to check out the Metropol Parasol walkway, a sort of beehive-like structure that doesn’t have a particular function (as far as I know) but does look.. iconic? I guess. Well, we wandered under it anyway, and were impressed by a guy on a bicycle zooming up and down the walls .