Today I left Seville, a city that, unfortunately, underwhelmed me. Sure, the historical city is beautiful, although the rest is hideous. If you ever come here, close your eyes for the ride from the airport or train station to your hotel. The city is described by many as vibrant, romantic, intriguing, but I just did not feel any of those things. Seville is a bit like Disney World, something that I hate about many places I have visited.
As far as attractions go, of course the cathedral (third largest church in the world) is stunning and the Alcazar is worth a visit. I also saw an unbelievable Flamenco show, thanks to a recommendation from a friend. It was good value and very authentic (from my very limited experience) because it was put on by Casa de la Memoria, a cultural museum, rather than a show operator. Here are some photos from the cathedral (including a photo of the tomb of Columbus – DNA verified!) and the Flamenco show:
In general, I found Seville to be very expensive, which was a little surprising having come from two cities that I would have expected to be worse. I paid less for my accommodation in Seville, but still seemed to spend more generally (on what?…certainly no purchases). I guess it does make sense – the historical center of Seville is the only place that has any value to tourists and the only people who have reason to go there are tourists; whereas in Barcelona and San Sebastian, locals mix with tourists in most places.
The food was also little to write home (or blog) about. Deep fried fish is a specialty here in Andalusia and I tried it on my first night, but forgot my camera. Anything deep fried is good, so it was fine, but what was actually good was the cold pimento “salad” (more like a stew) that I had on the side. I was actually surprised by the amount of seafood served here, given that Seville is inland. There is great orange juice (always freshly squeezed and a lot better and cheaper than in New York). I did have a great experience with ice cream. A place right near my hotel makes it fresh daily and the owner was so generous with samples – I had to stop her at about seven (Steve K., you would love this) – that I had practically eaten a whole serving before I even placed my order (in the end I had a trio of banana chocolate, Dutch chocolate, and mint chocolate chip). I had a cheese quesadilla one night that was more like a goat cheese salad, but had won some sort of innovative tapas award. The lettuce, strawberries, and apple in the dish constituted the most fruit and vegetables I have had at once in the past two weeks — the Spanish are big on meat and cheese, not so big on leafy greens. Yesterday I had a bit of a stomach ache and needed a break from Spanish food, so I had some pizza at a highly recommended Italian restaurant. All I can say about that is no more Italian food until Italy (big fail on the pizza).
Admittedly, I was glad to move on from Seville. I just arrived in Granada and have a good feeling about this place. When I departed the train station, I promptly walked in the wrong direction. I asked a man who was carrying two eggplants for directions and rather than attempt to explain something that I would not understand, he kindly walked me, out of his way, to the correct street. The room in my pension makes the fresher rooms at Trinity look tremendous (seriously), but I know I picked the right place, because for twenty euros per night I have my own, personally operating and virtually silent air conditioner. I’ve made it.