Seville was the one place that most of my Facebook friends agreed was a must see while in Spain.
We took a 3.5 hour train to Seville from Granada and arrived around 9:30 p.m.
We stayed at a pretty good hostel called The Garden Backpacker. Although the rooms were a little small and the wifi wasn’t great, the hostel has a really great vibe for meeting people. Every night from 8:30 to 9:30 they have free sangria. They also have a 5 Euro homemade dinner around 9:30 p.m. This is a great way to get people out of their rooms and hanging out in the common areas of the hostel. This hostel really knows what they’re doing!
Our first few hours in Seville we just sort of explored the area around us. There were these funny looking sculptures that the hostel receptionist described to us as mushrooms. They’re not very old and their only purpose seems to be as a viewpoint to see the rest of the city.
As it was a Sunday night, everything seemed to be closed. Bars, restaurants, supermarkets. Nothing seems to ever really be open in Spain.
We had to spend most of our first full day figuring out how we would be getting to San Sebastián. We saw online that there was a 9.5 hour train with only two transfers the following day so we set out for the station to get our tickets.
Of course it was full. The man helping us book the tickets at the station didn’t really speak English. I used the little amount of Spanish I had to understand that we could either go to Madrid, transfer for about two hours to another station in Madrid and then get on another train for about 100 Euros or go to Madrid, spend the night and take a train in the morning to San Sebastián.
I haven’t taken a Spanish class since freshman year of college so my Spanish is shaky at best. But I’ve found that in situations like this where Spanish is my only option to figure out what we need, I remember a lot more. I was listening so intently to this Spaniard as he explained our options and I was watching every one of his lip movements to try to determine what he was saying. After about 20 minutes, we had a train ticket from Madrid to San Sebastián in our hand. And I was feeling pretty accomplished about the little Spanish that I was able to use and understand.
We ended up booking a 39 Euro flight to Madrid and getting a hotel room near the train station. I have the Eurail pass so all of my trains in Spain are only 6 Euros but Mel does not have a Eurail so each train was going to be at least 50 Euros for her, so the flight was the cheaper option for her.
After getting our travel to Madrid all figured out, we went into Seville to do some sightseeing.
Our first stop was the Plaza de Espana. It is a magnificent structure. I think it’s more beautiful and vast than the Vatican. The intricate detail on the buildings and railings were stunning. The Spanish really know how to do architecture!
Next, we tried to find a market our hostel recommended but of course it was siesta time so it wasn’t open. I also think we were walking in the wrong place. We were basically just wandering.
We wandered back along the river past the bullfighting ring and along the main shopping street of Seville.
We stopped for fresh salads before heading back to our hostel for a walking tour.
Walking tours are my favorite part about staying in hostels! They’re always free, plus a small donation for your guide. I usually tip about 5 Euro. I’m not sure if this is too much or too little but most people we’ve met seem to tip about the same.
Our hostel had one walking tour in the morning that took you past the major sightseeing attractions of Seville and the afternoon tour was more about the legends and stories of Seville.
The tour started almost an hour late (that European time!) and lasted about three hours. We started at the Town Hall and walked past the Cathedral and Alcazar as we headed into the Jewish quarter, or “old town” of Seville.
Our guide told us legends and history about the different statues and monuments around the city.
That night we had planned to have some wine and go out with the pub crawl. But when we went out to find a supermarket at 10 p.m., they were all closed. Everything is always closed!
We took this as a sign that we should save the money on drinking and treat ourselves with ice cream instead. Mel and I seem to eat a lot in Spain and it’s really starting to show on our bodies which I am not liking very much!
We sat on the steps near the Cathedral and just enjoyed the warm night in Seville. I like it a lot more by night than by day. The Spanish (and really all Europeans) really know how to perfectly light their monuments and streets.
Spain is very interesting in August. A lot of store fronts have signs that say they are closed for vacations. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s the hottest month of the year or what but everyone seems to leave the cities to head for the beaches. Seville seemed pretty empty. Although we did not experience the night life there, a fellow hostel dweller told us the bars were all basically empty.
We spent our last day in Seville just wandering the streets and people watching. This is my favorite way to get to know a place. Just watching life happen as I pass by.
I think I liked Granada more than Seville. Both had their own charm but Granada just had more character than Seville.
Our last stop in Spain is San Sebastián, a beach town in the north of Spain on the border of France. Then Mel will leave me to go back to Barcelona to meet her sister and I’ll head up to Paris to meet back up with Chelsea. Less than a week until we’re America bound.