Friday, December 6, 2013

Travelling Spain: Seville

Having descended from the higher ground of Córdoba and Granada, my first impression of Andalusia's capital was its weather. Winter in Sevilla turned out be the warmest I've ever encountered. On each of the five days spent there, afternoon temperatures climbed well over twenty degrees. Sitting short-sleeved on the grass, I could only imagine how oppressive the summers must be. 

I was formally introduced to Seville by another walking tour. It was guided by a local engineering student and centred on the fundamentals of a very long history. Given my interest in the more recent events of the 1930s, I was intrigued to hear how Franco and the Nationalists projected Andalusian traditions as the most "appropriate" expression of Spanish culture. But that could never have detracted from my later viewing of an authentic Flamenco at the local museum. The fusion of the dancers' graceful technique with elite musicianship made every one of my twenty euros count. 

The rallying point for Seville's sightseers is the Cathedral. But because I had just seen Córdoba's Mesquita, I opted instead for a walk around the nearby Alcázar. Here, as is common across the region, a Moorish palace is augmented by Christian alterations. But there remains enough class to make parts of it truly breathtaking. Combining intricate carvings with a "cupola" cedar-wood ceiling, the Hall of Ambassadors rivals the finest of Granada's Alhambra.

Strolling around Seville was especially rewarding. A distinguishing feature was to stumble upon concealed public gardens with elaborately painted and tiled seating. There was also the unmistakable drama of Plaza De España (pictured). Relaxing here revived my fascination with Europe's "patriotic" buildings. I always enjoy seeing how once mighty powers used architecture to project the notion that this continent was the centre of the world. 

My bed in Seville came courtesy of the very central La Banda Rooftop Hostel. This recently renamed digs is run by four English guys, the oldest of which looks about twenty-five. While being thoroughly dependable for anything weary travellers might need, they personified the laid-back attitude that every hostel is so desperate to convey. La Banda was definitely the first place that I felt like I got to know people. The "internationality" of these places makes them difficult to dislike. 

But there are two sides to every story. One night, as one of the hosts was closing the rooftop area, two well-wined guests demanded to know what the "craziest story" from the hostel was. It was 1am midweek, and as he struggled to recount sufficient "craziness", the Englishman's fatigued expression revealed a more realistic side to the lifestyle of low-budget accommodation. 

Then there was the snorer who shattered the previous tranquillity of our eight-bed dorm. I've never been subjected to so many different tones of breathing. After about three hours of sleep, I watched him gently climb down his bunk, delicately cross the floor, and almost silently lock the bathroom door. He was, in wakefulness, the most courteous of people.   


  1. Hi Dermot, Be sure to take the bus tour...very informative and reasonable.

  2. Where were the guests who asked for the crazy story from?