24 hours in Seville

Now why would you be spending only one night in Seville, if you are a traveler in your right mind?

It may be because, like us, you wanted to cram in as much as possible of the best of all that Spain has to offer, within a 10-day trip across the country.

Because a) taking more time off was just not doable due to work demands. And b) when might you next be able to make the 20-hour journey, is anyone’s guess. Also c) so that you can get a flavour of different regions to plan better for an extended and more leisurely future trip, whenever that may be.

So, 24 hours it is, and the question is – how are you going to spend it?

  1. Marvel at the varied and extravagant architecture of the Real Alcazar

After having recently re-visited the famous Mughal monuments of Agra, I wasn’t sure I would be impressed by the architecture in Spain. Obviously, I hadn’t done my research properly.

A walk through the Real Alcazar, one of the oldest royal residences in Europe, is like walking through different cultures and eras – the collection of buildings that make it up vary so much in style and architecture – a testament to the region’s history.

The sections built in mudejar style, with the intricate detailing on the walls, floors and ceilings, could keep you enthralled for days on end.

In spring, the bright purple blooms of the jacaranda trees add a beautiful splash of colou to the lovely gardens.

  1. Take in the stunning views of this white, yellow and brown city from the top of the Giralda

Standing in the snaking queue to gain entry to the Seville Cathedral, I struggled to appreciate the beauty of the exterior façade. Gothic architecture isn’t my cup of tea. The interior, though was very impressive in its scale.

The legend goes that when they started planning it, the members of the cathedral chapter said, “Let us build a church so beautiful and so grand that those who see it finished will think we are mad”. Today, this church houses the remains of Christopher Columbus and stands as the world’s largest cathedral.

The best part however, is the climb up to the top (relatively easy slope, not steps) of the Giralda, the former minaret of the mosque that stood on this site, which was later converted into a bell tower.

Seville-10The city extends below – the brown tiled-roof buildings and historic churches of the congested Jewish quarter, giving way to newer buildings and modern structures further away.

  1. Get lost in the labyrinth streets of the Barrio de Santa Cruz

As we made our way to our intended dinner destination, navigating the Barrio de Santa Cruz using a map, was about as fruitful as looking for a parking spot in Wanchai on a weekend.

In medieval times, this neighbourhood was the Jewish quarter, where the entire Jewish population of the city had been concentrated by Ferdinand III of Castille, when he captured it.

The maze of narrow cobble-stoned streets, with colorful architecture, beautiful plazas, vibrant shops and character-laden bars around every corner makes for a glorious stroll.

You might just forget what your destination was, and simply give in to the charms of the journey.

  1. Be mesmerized by an adrenalin-producing Flamenco performance

Hubby was convinced that I was dragging him to some “tourist trap” operation. After the first act, he admitted that he had to eat his words.

Flamenco’s origins are unclear, except that it grew out of the music and dance styles of Roma and Andalucian people. While the word traditionally conjures up images of female dancers in long layered gowns, the musicians, singers as well as the male dancers also play an integral part in the performances.

The style of Flamenco songs can vary from heart-achingly serious to upbeat and frivolous. An impossibly energetic dance performance to the blood-rushing sounds of a guitar accompanied by tapping feet, clapping hands and clicking castanets is sure to transport you into an ecstatic reverie.

Don’t ask how it happens, but merely watching may leave you exhausted by the end of it.

  1. Taste some of Andalucia’s best tapas

Our first encounter with Andalucian tapas at a highly recommended restaurant, had left us sadly disappointed, and we were worried that San Sebastian had spoiled us. Thankfully, our next meal at the bustling Bar LaBulla restored our faith in the city’s culinary skills.

As with many other countries, the cuisine of Spain varies significantly from region to region. Paella is not the national dish, and “Spanish tapas” is a term about as descriptive as “Indian breads”.

Given the varied topography, Andalusian cuisine itself is quite varied. Some famous dishes are piscaito frito (fried fish. Actually any form of seafood, deep fried), salmorejo cordobes (a cold mixture of tomato and bread), gazpacho (a cold soup of tomato, vegetables, vinegar, olive oil, etc.), etc.

Don’t try to decipher the menus and ask your waiter to recommend house specialties. And to celebrate being in the region that is home to bullfighting, try bull’s tail.

And here’s something extra. If you happen to visit the day after the city’s beloved football team wins the UEFA Europa League Final, you can join the hordes of fans across all ages congregating on the streets, to revel and give their heroes a warm welcome home.