Rooftops

Sevilla Travel Blog

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What a super week this has been. I have had a more tranquil week, safe in the knowledge that I might have found a new home and I can now ‘choose’ to live and work in Sevilla.
My efforts at hunting for a new home have borne fruit and early in the week I decided I would take a late afternoon look at the ads on the website loquo.
it was here that I spied a new addition and made that terrifying phone call, hoping I would be able to understand and in return be understood. A friendly young man answered the phone and I timidly asked if he spoke English (never hurts to ask!). Astonishingly (in this city of anglo-phobes) he did, and we were able to have a completely coherent conversation. The place sounded like it had all my pre-requisites to follow up with a visit and a time was made for later that evening at 8.30pm.

Woo-hoo, things could be looking up but as in all mattes Spanish, I have learnt not to get too excited too soon. I wandered the neighbourhood and found the apartment easily, well ahead of time. I wanted to do a bit of scouting and find out if the area was to my liking. it was certainly central enough, only about 5 minutes walk to Plaza Nueva. The street is peotonal (pedestrian) and close to one of the few roads that do actually take cars in the old town (good if I ever need a taxi). The apartment itself was not typical from the outside, in fact it had few windows and only one door buzzer indicating that it may not be shared with many other apartments.

I was pleased to note the two large planter tubs either side of the front door, each sporting a lovely tree. ¡Que. preciosa!
Finally the time came for my appointment and I was welcomed in warmly by Oscar, a youngish man with a friendly smile. We greeted in the typical Spanish manner (cheek air kiss left, cheek air kiss right) and he led me up the lovely marble spiral staircase, two floors to the apartment level.

What struck me instantly was the light and fresh air. Even though it looked from the outside as though it would be dark, a central ‘light well’ travelling from the rooftop to the lower level washed every space with luscious Sevilliana light. The apartment was built around this central well, similar to the Carmens in Granada.

I was shown through to the kitchen and then around the edge of the well to the dining area. It contained a gorgeous dark wooden table and leather chairs and led through to the enormous adjoining lounge with two living areas. One space had an open fire that looked perfect and a spot for sharing a bottle of wine in front of (winter evenings are cool in Sevilla). Alongside the fire were several interesting musical instruments. I was to find out later that Oscar is in a Jazz band and the house is home to a practice night once a week.

The other lounge area was tastefully decorated with 2 very long sofas and a big coffee table. Unobtrusively, a TV sat off to the side. Never the centre of attention in Spanish homes.

It was explained that Oscar has his bedroom and bathroom on this floor also and ‘my’ area was on the floor above, up a smaller spiral staircase, made of iron and a little steep but oh so cute.

Emerging at the top, I was greeted with my dream space - it was bright with light from the terrace and almost like my own private bedsit. I would have a cute bedroom with white painted cupboards, a bathroom to myself and (wait for it) - my own office area!! I just could not believe how perfect it was.

I stood gawking, not wanting to seem too excited but unable to hold back my enthusiasm. We then went out to the terrace, taking up almost the entire roof space. It was furnished with a lovely outdoor table, chairs, plants and plenty of shaded area. There was a view over the rooftops of Sevilla - completely unobstructed due to there being hardly any buildings over five storeys high.

As if that was not enough, we then climbed yet another small set of stairs and here on the very top of the building was an extra room, with a couch, air conditioner and washing machine! I doubt that anyone would want to stay here but maybe on Spring or Autumn days it is the perfect place to read.

I was so excited that I had found my perfect place. Now the fun began. Oscar had many enquiries and asked if I could wait a day for him to choose his prospective housemate. Can you imagine what those hours were like for me! I hardly slept and when I awoke the next day, I found myself in such a state that it took two cafe con lechés to settle myself down. It was an agonizing wait for the call and when it finally came, I had resigned myself to the fact that I would have to take the other place or head back to the drawing board.

Oscar was lovely on the phone and despite my worst fears and doubts, he cheerfully asked me to be his housemate. I was so excited. For a minute or two after the call I just stood on the corner of Plaza Alfalfa (where I had been holed up waiting) and let a few soft tears escape to release some of the pressure I had built up.

Although I was made the offer, I still could not believe it was actually going to happen and I wanted to seal the deal somehow. I had already paid for the next week’s accommodation with Marta and did not want to lose my new find. I asked Oscar if I could drop off one of my bags early in the week and pay some of the rent. I was hoping that would be enough to settle my apprehension.

That night I called twice but he did not answer. I had a bad feeling and another sleepless night. The next day I sent a message to ask if I could come over in the evening and he agreed on 7.30pm. Just as I was about to leave Marta’s with my trolley bag I received a message from Oscar to say he would be home late. My nerves were completely shattered by now. Regardless, I waited another hour and headed to my ‘new’ place, hoping against hope that all was well.

I must be a true plonker as Oscar opened the door with the same friendly smile and helped me up to my ‘office’. It was another great meeting and now all I had to do was get thorough the weekend, make it to Monday night, move the rest of my things and get MY OWN KEY. Only then would I be satisfied . . . . .to be continued.

So now another week in sunny (damn hot) Sevilla to enjoy. I suppose I should have spent the week getting myself set up for work but until I actually have an address, I am hesitant to do this. I may still end up back in Granada if the new place does not come off.
Regardless, I did do some background work. I finalized my new ‘English Teacher’ CV and Paco kindly printed off a copy for me. I can now get it photocopied and drop off at some of the English Academies in town.
I also started work on a cover letter, very important when sending unsolicited CVs etc. It is a whole new world, this ESL (English as a second language) game but I am sure I will get the hang of it quickly.

It is still perilously hot here and once the clock approaches 3.00pm, there is little to do but rest and relax somewhere cool. I have taken to reading my book on the roof, legs dangling in the pool. Often I can hear the neighbors making lunch al fresco or families also splashing about in small rooftop pools. One day this week, I had been in the shade for a couple of hours, enjoying one of my last English novels when I heard a strange whirring sound. I ignored it for a while, thinking it was some type of machinery or fan. As I packed up my things planning to go back downstairs I glimpsed a mirage on the roof opposite. I stole another look and my original notion was confirmed.

On the very top of the roof opposite, slightly hidden by the low walls, was a half naked (wearing shorts and shoes) specimen of a stunning Spanish man exercising on a rowing machine!
t was about 7.00pm, still well over 30C and I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. Many of the men here make Antonio Banderas look positively plain but this was something else. Blushing, I hastily slipped my tongue back in my mouth and went inside, clearly impressed with my new rooftop view. Does it get any better?

Every day I rise early and start with breakfast in one of my favourite small cafes. I have quite a few now and I am getting a little more familiar with the narrow maze of the Casco Antiguo (old town) streets. There is a gorgeous bar called El Rinconcillo and I was attracted to it because of it’s quaintness. The bar is curved and very old. The ceiling high shelves behind it are stacked with bottles so old, even the dust has dust on it. I recently read that the owners of some of the vineyards have asked to buy them back off the bar but they refuse! This bar is the oldest in Sevilla (17th century).

During the week I went in for a tinto and noticed the elderly barmen all had thick chunks of white chalk behind their ears. And then I watched - someone makes an order for drinks and tapas, the prices are scribbled on the rustic wooden counter. As delicious plates of food appear from the kitchen, they are ticked off. When time comes to pay, the chalk markings are used to add up. Very simple, very clever, very practical. A simple wipe with damp cloth and the next customer is served.

Another favourite bar (San Pedro de la . . . .something-or-other) at the end of my street is tiny and very plain. Nothing too old or fascinating but good home cooked tapas and a great coffee first thing. I have become so much of a regular that the barman now does the air kiss greeting with me, fuelled with a smile form ear to ear!

A week of faffing (wasting time) went really quick and on saturday morning I decided to head to yet another favourite place - Bar Europa. The coffee is perfect, croissants delicious and the ambience is typically chic Sevillano (i.e. old world European charm). I sat at the bar and read my book, just soaking up the atmosphere. After noticing a guy at one of the tables was working on his MAC, I stopped to ask if there was wifi in the cafe.

He explained that many of the city centre plazas have wifi provided by the local council. You get 30 minutes free. Hmmmm, a good thing to know.

We continued to chat and I discovered that Victor works for the Spanish Government and has job overseeing the Spanish teachers who give English lessons in the public school system. It was very interesting and we swapped numbers and email so might bump into each other again. It seems so much easier to make friends here. Is it just because I am away from home and more likely to talk to strangers? I am not sure I have the answer but I am enjoying the new experience, regardless.

This weekend is a very important one on the Spanish calendar. For the whole of July and August most Spanish take their annual holiday (either 2 weeks, a month or occasionally 2 months). As it is now the last weekend of August, the roads are slowed to a snail pace as half the country returns from their beach or country hideaways. All the bars that have been closed for August are bustling with owners cleaning off dust, cooling drinks, and preparing wonderful fresh food for next week. The town will look completely different by Tuesday. it is as if it has been running on only four cylinders and by the first of September, a magic wand is waved and miraculously the day starts on six cylinders. The buzz is back, the workers are back and best of all, every shop and bar will all be open, giving life to neighbourhood street corners and hidden plaza.

The ‘guests’ at Marta and Paco’s were treated to a fun night out on friday. They gathered us up (Mauro and Romano, Lisa and me) and took us to an amazing bar where the tapas were 3.50 euros and the size of main meals. Initially we had to wait a little, crushed against the rowdy bar until our name was called for a table. I would never have found this place on my own but now I have a new one to add to my list. I hope I will have some OS visitors this year as I have a list of typically Sevillano haunts already.

Our next stop was to a very upmarket hotel next to the Cathedral. It has a rooftop bar that rivals anything I have seen (anywhere!). It is about 40m from the cathedral as the crow flies. This funky bar with all the ‘beautiful’ people and chilled music seemed a long way from my image of a ‘simple life in Spain’
Even though the drinks were five times the normal prices, it was not mandatory to be drinking so we just talked and enjoyed the second most beautiful view in Spain (can’t beat my Alhambra!). The warm glow of lighting on the Giralda and Cathedral, the balmy still evening, half moon, new friends and full belly made it a night to remember.

And yet we were not yet done. In Spanish terms, the night was still young at 1.00am so we headed back home and up to ‘our roof’ for more conversation and more light refreshment. i am afraid I still have a long way to go before I am a bona fide Sevillana as I toddled off to bed at 3.00am and the others made it a 6.00am.

And now, I am back again, on my rooftop, next to the pool, so relaxed and calm as I contemplate whether I should take a siesta or a dip in the pool - or even both. It is Sunday and everything is closed. The day is one of family, friends and reflection. No rushing to the shops to spend spend spend. Maybe tonight I will take a paseo to the Alameda nearby or even a paseo to the cathedral to thank Santiago (St James) for my good fortune.

In 24 hours I will know if my dream to live in the perfect home on the roof of Sevilla will come true. Anyway, if it does not happen - there are plenty more where that came from.
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Sevilla
photo by: JP-NED