I had very few expectations of Seville before I actually arrived – not least because life is completely chaotic with 2 small children and I had no time to research…BUT before I blame them for everything, I’d just like to point out that I love a bit of mystery. I’m a huge fan of not reading ANYTHING about a film before I watch it – the same goes for cities that I’ve never visited before. I like to be surprised. Which is so hard these days where you can Google Map everything in advance. So, actually, thank you children for preventing me from draining the mystery out of our five-day stay!
The only pre-conceived idea I had in my head was of grand, orderly squares flanked by orange trees. And of course, I saw these squares, but everything exceeded my crude vision a thousand times over. Every street, every boulevard, every alley had orange trees just BURSTING with ripe bitter oranges. And nobody was picking them. Oranges lay disconsolately on the pavement, squashed underfoot. I have never seen people so disinterested in potentially edible fruit – I gather that the locals just view the trees as ornamental and that the local council does a mass ‘pick’ of the oranges at the end of Feb, but I think the only people interested in receiving them in any number must be Robinson’s jam factory in the UK! I was so desperate to pick some oranges, but typically every tree was very well tended and the fruit eluded my grasp, branches clipped to just above head height.
Will somebody please pick these up and make marmalade with them?
Seville was an intoxicating mix of elabarate architecture – Moorish, Gothic, Roman etc. And just when I thought I’d got a rough idea of what the city was about, I’d turn a corner and find some other stunning church or square just looming out at me, mocking me with its sheer elaborate bombastic-ness. We walked everywhere for our during our five-day stay and I think we still had 75% of the city left to see. It really was a feast for the eyes. And if you love patterned tiles like I do, then Seville is a dream because everything from park benches to balconies and grand hallways in palaces are covered in beautiful ceramics.
Eye-popping tiles from the bejewelled interior of the Alcazar Real Palace:
Street bench, snazzy with its tiles:
Examples of stunning architecture around the city:
Las Setas de Sevilla – basically giant ‘mushroom’ sculptures made from wood:
Palacio de Lebrija:
And now to the FOOD…
Any visit to a city, in my opinion, is incomplete without going to the food markets to see where the locals shop. I find this much more interesting than looking for clothes or going to a bland shopping centre. I managed to get to two markets, which ain’t bad with two young rascals in tow.
Mercado Puerto de la Carne is housed in a crumbling old bus terminal and is being renovated, with the aim of moving the market into a stately brick building behind it. The market still carries on amid all the building noise, metres away from the diggers. You won’t see many tourists here, but you will see some classic old ladies with properly set hair doing their daily shop.
It’s a bit reminiscent of Brixton Market’s fruit and veg shops in the arcades:
Daughter trying to convince me that she really needs some pick ‘n mix:
Stout, formidable fishmonger ladies:
This unassuming little cafe served us the BEST coffee of the entire holiday:
There it is – cortado con leche. Short, very strong and really needed a bit of sugar to take the edge off. Fantastic:
We also visited the Mercado de Feria, which is Seville’s oldest covered food market, very elegant and stately.
Extremely fresh fish:
You aren’t meant to touch anything or help yourself at the stalls, so shopping takes quite some time if you need more than three things…
The market has lovely bars all around its edges, for tapas-o’clock:
Seville happens to be the birthplace of tapas. The food is really good – great, gutsy flavours. And boy, do the Sevillianos LOVE their salt on food. Luckily I adore salt, but some of the dishes were even too salty for me.
Toritillitas de Camarones. This is a very special kind of Andalucian fritter, made with tiny prawns and flecked with onions. Really crispy and delicious:
Anchovies served atop tomato and drizzled with herby oil and balsamic – very fresh:
For the salt lovers out there – clams with a wine and seafood sauce, thick and retro like Campbell’s Mushroom Soup. Super savoury, gutsy and filthy (in a good way) – really made us hoover up our wine alongside:
Many of the tapas dishes come adorned with a quail’s egg:
A super-thick version of gazpacho soup called Salmorejo, which comes garnished with chopped jamon and boiled egg. Tomatoes, garlic and olive oil are blended with stale bread to give it its super creamy consistency. Epic:
Who doesn’t love a good bowlful of sturdy patatas bravas?
We found ice cream parlours that served their ices in the shape of flowers. Really gorgeous, but not so great to queue up for when both your kids are whining:
A closed bakery is a sad sight unless it has an awesome mural on its shutters:
Dried fruit and nut stall:
Gothic and terrifying display of fish in a restaurant window:
Sandwich shop near Mercado Puerta de la Carne:
We bought buttery biscuits from the Santa Ines Convent, where you don’t actually see the nuns serving you, you speak to them through a dark wooden hatch/cupboard (see below) and they send your pastry goods spinning out on a revolving Lazy Susan. Surreal!
I felt very holy after eating most of the entire packet of biscuits, I can tell you:
There is usually at least one ham leg – if not loads – hanging up in every bar, and if you’re lucky, you might stumble into a bar where locals are singing flamenco songs and getting lairy:
Not food, but this shop apparently sells ‘all things’. In particular, picture frames:
Not food-related either, but I find pavements in Spain far superior and more exciting than boring old British ones – just look at the patterns!
Tiles, tiles, everywhere:
My daughter took this shot! She really wanted the shoes:
Gah! More oranges just lolling about on the tree! I can’t bear it…
I’m now off to eat some marmalade on toast.