SEVILLE STOLE MY HEART & MY BIKE

Seville was an experience to say the least. It was probably one of the places that had many ups and the first real downs we’d experienced on our travels. We chose to stay in a campsite after hours of trawling the internet in search of cheap parking in Seville or somewhere that was safe. To be fair it was only €12 a night and we needed a bit of a clean up. The facilities at Area Sosta Camper – Siviglia left a lot to be desired but hey this is life on the road, it isn’t about the glamour of your accommodation but the places you see. We arrived in the afternoon so were excited to get out away from the car park campsite and into what I hoped would be a magical city of oranges. Only a short cycle over the bridge and into the city was the Plaza de Espana. I was completely blown away by the stunning architecture. Every angle gave a different persecutive of mosaics, columns, stairs and rooftops. Maybe it was due to the boiling midday sun deterring tourists but the square was so quiet and very very very hot. Diving from the shaded edges to the central fountain we enjoyed the fizz of water spray. Mosaic tiles cascaded and covered every wall, pillar and step creating a bright colourful haven juxtaposing the lush greenery of the surrounding park. Each little cove along the edge depicts a different city of importance and behind the pillars hid elaborately decorated staircases holding secret views.. Every angle held a surprise and I could’ve wandered all day seeing something new. We walked over to the old town of Seville and locked up the bikes. Shaded from the sun we walk through narrow pedestrianised streets taking in the array of shops, cafes and restaurants. As the streets opened up we were greeted by the huge vision of the mushroom Metropol Parasol and as the market was closed we carried on down the the La Alameda. It was still a tad early for food so to pass away the time we sampled a local Mojito (or two) in a nearby bar overlooking the roman columns before heading over to the market Lonja de Feria. I guess we were out early for the Spanish as the market seemed closed so instead I took up a recommendation and headed over to try Duo Tapas. Just a few feet from the roman ruins it had a great selection of tapas and we tucked into an amazing selection of delights including duck and octopus.

Day two and after a peaceful nights sleep we were ready to explore this amazing city again. We got up to get morning views from the top of the Cathedral. It was worth the short queue and masses of uphill slopes (yes thats right not stairs just slopes, so bad on the knees!). The orange courtyard was beautiful too even if they weren’t in season. The interior was held up with huge columns of stone and every wall was elaborately decorated. Christopher Columbus’ tomb lies here too which was adorned with cherubs and paintings. Lunch was at a little cafe called Cocome which I would highly recommend for a light lunch pit stop. Think of it like an upmarket subway but not in  bad way of course, they had a huge selection of mix your own salads and sandwiches paired with homemade sauces. It was perfect for us and we relaxed for a bit in the cool air con. Our next stop was the famous bullring and standing by the river it was a fair walk but thankfully the narrow streets cast cool shadows as we took a slow walk over. The temperatures were slowly rising to unbearable so we were glad when the grand structure came into view. The only way you can visit the bullring on day where there is no fighting is to take the tour which I did find a bit of shame, I guess I just wanted to wander in see it and walk out. We hooked up to the audioguide and along with our group we learnt all the details of a matadors routine pre-fight, how the sport evolved and the garments which were worn as well as so much more. I have to be honest and say I don’t agree with the sport so was thankful that there wasn’t a fight on, I knew I’d be dragged to it! On the way back to pick up our bikes we thought we would drop into the Alcazar as we were struggling to pre order our tickets for the next day. The staff were lovely in particular one member who asked for our names and told us to find him first thing in the morning and he would see what he could do. I didn’t expect anything and assumed it was a courteous gesture but it was worth a try. We thought after a rather sweaty day we would cycle back, get changed and enjoy a nice evening and have a few drinks. Only, we got back to the bike rack to see only one bike. I could have cried and was legitimately so close I could feel my eyes well up, I was so disheartened that someone would be so low to steal my bike. It wasn’t even anything fancy just a second hand one we’d picked up before we left. It was more the fact we had come to rely on them so much. I’ll admit I never thought we would be as reliant but we rode our bikes basically everyday and I was worrying about how not having one would impact our plans. Where could I pick up a cheap bike in a foreign country? Are they expensive? I hadn’t seen anywhere to get one  never mind the price. Most importantly though was how would we get back to our campervan? The campsite was over 3 miles from where we were and it was going to be a long long very long walk home. Joshua is genuinely my superhero I must say, I don’t know what I would do without him (cry probably) but he ran the whole way home alongside me whilst I used his bike so we could still carry on as planned. When we got back and in some wifi we looked up second hand bike shops and taxis because even though it was ok we didn’t fancy that hike into town. We took the Spanish version of uber (MyTaxi – that app saved our lives!) over to the only bike shop I found online. It was closed but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The bikes all looked old which is to be expected of course but they were expensive at €120 for a super rusty thing. So anyway we gave up on that idea and tried to enjoy our evening as best we could. The market which was closed the night before seemed a lot busier as we wandered past so we thought we’d give it a try. Usually you expected these places to be brimming with food and counters full of an array of options but that wasn’t the case here. An older gentleman introduced himself as the owner and gave us the low down on how you actually purchase food. To anyone who wants to visit he is genuinely the key and without him you’d probably not venture in as we hadn’t the day before. You go to the bar and purchase tickets, its something like €3 for a dish or €4 including a drink (please don’t quote me my memory is shocking at times). So obviously we had drinks with every single dish! We walked round the stalls introduced us to everyone and he explained what each person served up. We got a mix of paella, fresh grilled prawns, chicken and tacos. Everything was sublime and we were glad we went back! I was still a little disheartened and stressed over the bike situation and as we discussed I felt a heavy weight as though I was a burden and a bit lost. To cheer me up Joshua suggested a leisurely walk through the old town to an ice-cream shop wed spotted earlier in the day. We tucked into our ice wave rolls as the street lights popped on and the streets filled with locals and tourists ready to enjoy the nightlife whilst we were heading home.

True to our word we arrived as gates opened for the Alcazar. The queue was already huge and maybe been at least 50 metres long but we though f*ck it what was there to lose by going to ask for the staff wed spoken to yesterday, wed just just go to the back and wait if necessary. True to his word he was there and he’d remembered our names and quickly ushered us through the gates. We felt so bad but it was worth it and before we knew it we were inside the gates. He was called Sam and he taught me that even though there are some awful people in the world some people are good and do things just to be nice, he didn’t need to do the kind gesture but he did. We were so glad we went as it was so stunning. The building was a maze of courtyards and pillars and secret rooms inspired by middle eastern culture but blended with Spanish heritage. It was easy to envision elements from Game of Thrones as this was used as the as the setting for “Dorn”. The gardens were vast and we enjoyed the cool breeze and shade from the ancient trees and the mist that sprayed off the fountains. The main central room was too so spectacular covered with geometric tiles creating mesmerising patterns. It was interesting to read the uses for each room like the entrances for men and women and the covered corridors for privacy. When wed combed through every element on offer we headed across the road dow a small alley to Filo where we enjoyed a late breakfast feast. Le Torre was our last stop, over looking the river as a guardian to the city it was a perfect finish to our time in seville. So even though the city stole my bike it definitely stole my heart and I would go back, every experience is a learning curve and we knew to be more careful with choosing where we  kept our bikes and also the type of locks we should be using.

 

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