Get that pronunciation right!
Seville is pronounced SAY-WEE-YAH and Giralda is HEE-RAL-DAH
Now you are ready to go!
Rent a bike
With hundreds of miles of cycle lanes and non aggressive traffic, Seville is a very bike friendly city. The city has bike stations for you to borrow a bike when you need and then return it when you are done. If you are on a short visit, like most things in life, you need to plan a bit in advance so that you have the card required for getting the bike.
Frankly, we did not use the service. We continued our tradition of staying in the historic district so that most places we visited were within walking distance.
Arrive early at the Giralda
Set a pre-dawn alarm and arrive early at Giralda. If the service trucks are unloading fresh produce at the restaurant door-steps and there are no cops around, you are in time. Look around. No crowd! In a couple of hours this place will be teeming with Rick Steve totting crowd and one will be jostled around. For now, enjoy the fresh crisp air and crane up to take in the tower that epitomizes Seville. The tower was built at the turn of the millennia and is a hotchpotch of many building styles. Walk around the cathedral. Like Brunelleschi’s dome in Florence, the tower is visible from almost everywhere.
Grab a coffee and proceed to the Seville Cathedral – Cathedral of the Saint Mary of the See.
Visit Christopher Columbus
The cathedral is historic, enormous and beautiful. Being on the last leg of our stay in Spain, we had seen similar historic, enormous and beautiful churches. So we did not spent too much time gawking at the monumental arches, humongous naves and intricate venetian glass. We headed straight to Christopher Columbus’ tomb.
Columbus was as mobile after his death as he was when he was alive. The story goes that he was buried in Vallodolid then moved to Seville and then to Santa Domingo on Hispaniola. Even after his death, Columbus continued to across the Atlantic. The French then moved the body to Havana in Cuba. After Cuba gained independence, Columbus was moved back to Seville.
Except that Columbus’ remains were found in Santa Domingo in the nineteenth century, the most popular theory being that the wrong Columbus, Diego – his son, was moved to Havana by mistake. In the meantime, scientists claim that the wrong body was moved from Havana to Seville, while the city of Valladodid claims Columbus never left the city. Just to add to the confusion, part of Columbus’s remains were given to the city of Genoa in 1892. So Columbus has a tomb in Vallodolid, Seville, Santa Domingo, Havana, Seville and Genoa. For the famed admiral, a tomb in every port! I guess only Columbus knows where he is, like he did all his life.
Christopher Columbus hopefully rests here in peace ? Or should I say piece?
Climb the Giralda
Climb it, if not for the view, to burn those calories you have put on hogging the tapas. Apparently, there is no plan or layout to Seville. The breeze is crisp, the descent is easy.
Book a flamenco show
Seville is the best place to see the most traditional flavor of the Flamenco. The Spaniards are so good at it, that you can pick any show and you cannot go wrong with it. A typical two hour show is a boon to the eyes and ears. A couple of individual performances followed by a melodramatic love story, it is an experience not to be missed. Especially not in Seville.
Sneak into Alcazar
If you have not yet been to the Alhambra or do not plan to go there, Alcazar is a great preview or a perfect replacement for the original respectively. If you have already been to Alhambra, Alcazar will refresh the memories. The Moorish palace/fort is breathtaking, a living example of mudéjar architecture – the confluence of Islamic and Christian Spanish building principles. Sprawling courtyards lined with foliage with gurgling fountains in the center, pristine arches that leads to halls and passages, tapestries, stucco work and paintings – Alcazar needs a slow two hours to imbibe it all in. Lots of benches everywhere to take the weight off the feet and a beautiful cafeteria with good food completes the experience.
Try and arrive early. Alcazar is hot on the tourist roadmap and crowd kills the experience.
Follow a bride
Alcazar is a popular place for couple to say their vows. Attractive couple in wedding attires brightens this place. The bride in this picture had crossed us on the main road and it was fun to follow their official photo session through the historical corners. Find your couple, or better still, get married here.
Dine at Toledo
All guide books call Toledo a day trip from Seville. So buck the trend and go there for dinner. At least you will miss all the day trippers. Dine al fresco in the main square. The full blooded Spanish spirit is still alive while the museums and cathedrals are closed, so no pressure to sight see. Sit back, relax, order a beer, tuck into those tapas.
Buy your daughter a flamenco outfit
Yes, they may feel cheap to the touch (but not to the wallet). Yes, she might only wear it once, but go on, buy one anyways. Also buy her a matching polka dotted Flamenco doll.
It is the spirit of Seville.
And make let her earn it…