Girls of Melbourne - Girls of Sevilla

Sevilla Travel Blog

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Yes, I am still alive and well in Sevilla. It has been a crazy wonderful few weeks with trips, visits and lots of work!

Where do I start?
My first visit was from lovely Gill, a girlfriend from Melbourne. We had studied together a few years ago doing our Masters and stayed close ever since. Gill has located to Portugal to be with her partner and is only a hop, skip and a jump form me now.

It was time for us to have a girly catch up so she took the 4 hour bus from her town and arrived soon after lunch to my excited greeting at the bus station, a mere 6 minutes walk from my house.
We took no time in settling in and heading off to savour the sights, sounds and smells of Sevilla. Although Gill was only here for 2 days, I made sure she left with a sense of my life(style) here.

As a fervent shoe lover (like myself), I showed her the high and low-lights of shoe shopping in central Sevilla. By now I have sussed all the good deals out and knew exactly which shops had the last of the summer stock at crazy reduced prices. Imagine if I could get paid for this information . . .

There was much laughing and giggling as we reminisced about our 5 day sojourn in Bilbao last year also. Gill had joined me after I finished walking the Camino and it was a similar story - shoes, food and art!

On the Friday night, I had been alerted to a public (local, not tourist) Flamenco show in one of the oldest Peña’s in Sevilla. It is in the neighbourhood of Macarena (yes! THAT Macarena, of the song fame).
A Peña is kind of like a local social club and this one in particular is well respected for Flamenco singers, guitarists and dancers. The show was to be a remembrance of Manolo Caracol (1909 - 1973), a singer of great acclaim who was tragically killed in a car accident.

We successfully alighted the bus in Macarena and quite quickly found the tiny side street housing the Peña. As we walked further and further from the main street we began to wonder if we had been given the wrong address. it seemed to be a very quiet cobbled street with typical Andalusian houses rising two - three storeys above us in the soft yellow light from the pretty street lamps. We found the address in no time and stopped in front of the unimposing entrance, now sure we were in the right place.

It was austere from the outside, appearing to be the corridor-ed entrance to a normal house, but continuing inside we walked in to a beautiful walled patio, typically decorated with colourful tiled murals from Triana (just over the river) and lush greenery in huge terra-cotta pots. This led to a small bar and further on to the stage area and seating for the small intimate concert.

Luck was on our side as we made our way through the local folk to the little bar. The tapas were home made and delicious so we quenched our appetite and thirst (with a manzanilla) and took our places on the old rickety wooden seats. The evening started with a rousing (30 minute - I know I counted every one of them!) speech in Spanish explaining the life and times of Manolo Caracol - had we known, we would have remained at the bar. But we wanted to ensure our seats near the front.

What a treat to follow though - a young but incredibly talented pianist (Laura de los Ángeles), a guitarist (Manolo Herrera) and the star of the evening El Polaco (singer) enthralled us. The song was so emotional that at one point I had to brush the side of my face to clear away a tiny escaping tear.

Now I really understand what ‘gets’ people about Flamenco. If you are only exposed to the occasional song out of context, or are not in a conducive environment, it can sound like the piercing wailing of someone in obvious pain.

That night in the Peña, we were transported. It was a treat to remember. Maybe next time I will get to experience the magic of the dance also.

Of course, I had to take Gill to my favourite place in Sevilla so I led (or is that - dragged??) her to the Cathedral and up in the 4-storey lift of plush Eme Hotel to the rooftop bar. The view of the Cathedral at night is my second favourite in all the world, after the Alhambra in Granada.

Some nights, I want to reach over the edge and touch it - it is so close and yet far enough away to give you a sense of the scale. The only downfall is the price of the drinks. While most bars rarely charge more than 2€ for a beer, wine or manzanilla you are up for 10-15€ up here. It is sort of like paying for the view and the drinks are for free!! Well worth it every now and then though. I think Gill enjoyed our tranquil end to the night also.

Unfortunately her visit was all too short and she had to leave on Saturday afternoon, merely hours after the arrival of my next guest, Sheralyn.

Sheralyn and I were friends in Melbourne and share Reiki and the gym as interests. She moved to Italy 7 years ago and I have only seen here on rare visits to Melbourne in the meantime but stayed in close contact through email. I was so excited to catch up with her and show her my Sevilla. She is a great traveller as well so I had my work cut out for me.

I had decided on a rough itinerary for the 2 days ahead with rest time in between. Thank heavens I had foresight as we walked for miles!

We started off with tapas at a small bar well known for revueltos (kinda like scrambled egg with all sorts of additions such as green beans, mushrooms, jamon or prawns). An introduction to tinto de verano for Sheralyn was mandatory and welcomed in the hot afternoon air.

Although autumn is officially here, the weather elves seem not to have heard! It is still consistently 30C and the nights are normally still warm enough to not need a cover up. Now this is MY idea of autumn !

Next on the list was a wander to Plaza Alfalfa, one of the oldest plazas in Sevilla and the scene of weekly animal markets (cattle, sheep etc) up until the 1960s I believe.

By taking a circular route we continued on past the Cathedral to the University building. Although it was late Saturday afternoon, the teaching rooms were locked up but the main atrium was open so we took a quick wander in the eery but beautiful central courtyard to cool off a little. How I wished I had been lucky enough to have a university campus as gorgeous as this one (sorry Massey U, your 1970s square concrete boxes just don’t cut it)

This building used to be the old cigar factory (scene of the musical, Carmen). I imagined the girls leaving work at the end of a long day, laughing and joking in bright floral swirling skirts, the aroma of tobacco leaves wafting after them. How different our lives are now and what a contrast to the lives of the girls from Melbourne.

For the last month Sevilla has been host to a ‘feria’ of sorts - like a fair with activities and marquees housing stalls selling food and produce from around the world (Aus included). It was a bit naff and by now the feet were a little stressed! A quick pit-stop to Eme rooftop bar for Sheralyn as tonight was the full moon and my special view is even more special with the moon shining on the Giralda and Cathedral from above.

Tired but happy with the magic dust of Sevilla in my veins, I dropped Sheralyn at her little hotel (20m from my front door) and slept with dreams of happy girls making cigars, dancing and laughing in the warm night air.

Sunday is my favourite day here as most of the shops are closed (like the ‘old days’) and I go wandering peacefully, discovering Sevilla at my leisure. I had decided to take Sheralyn to my favourite Sunday places so off we went firstly to the bullring, an old area of Sevilla near the river. I recently found out that our bullring is different to all other rings in Spain. It’s shape is not circular form the outside because it forms part of the entire city block - co-joined with normal houses. The ‘Real Maestranza’ is the name for the Sevilla bullring, and the locals tell me it is the most important in Spain. It was built over a period of 120 years, started in 1730.

Very near here is a regular Sunday market for coins, stamps and old prints and postcards housed in a beautiful semi-circular courtyard, complete with fountain. From here we walked back to the Cathedral and it’s neighbour, the Archivas de Indias for a 20-min sit down while watching to the rather-dramatic mini-documentary explaining the history of Sevilla and the archives which house some of the worlds oldest manuscripts documenting early discoveries of the Americas.

Early afternoon (3.00pm in Sevilla) brought on the ‘hungries’ so another 15 minute walk and we were at the oldest bar in Sevilla, Rinconcillo. It was a little busy with no bar space or even standing space so we discovered another cute bar over the way. The food was great, staff friendly and the tintos cold!

My ‘insider information’ had alerted me to a procession (of a local Virgin form the church - keep up with me here) this evening so I thought it would be fun to show Sheralyn. It was true to style with all the enormous candles, pungent lilies, brass bands and throngs of followers that I have become accustomed to here in the South. The glistening Virgin did her parishioners proud and was customarily paraded around the neighbourhood before being put back to rest for another few months.

Only one last visit for Monday and that was to the Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija (that’s a mouthful).
This is what the website has to say:
The history of the Lebrija Palace started when Dª Regla Manjón Mergelina, Countess of Lebrija decided to restore and decorate the family mansion almost 100 years ago. She was a learned Sevillian lady very interested in archaeology, so after the fortuitous discoveries in a property of olive trees next to the Roman ruins of Itálica she decided to incorporate these discoveries to the Palace adjusting the dimensions of some rooms to fit the mosaics, Roman pavements and other archaeological remains from Italica (Santiponce). She also included artistic decoration from different periods: Sevillian baseboards of tiles from a convent in ruins, artworks from a palace of Marchena and a renaissance frieze among others.

From its unimposing entrance on a normal street in the centre of Sevilla, you would hardly guess what treasures lay behind. Little by little now I am getting to uncover the secrets of the streets where I live.

So if you come to visit me any time soon, be prepared to help me uncover something else. I am determined to become one of the girls of Sevilla!
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photo by: JP-NED