Careful What You Wish For
If you follow us on social media, you probably already know that we're in Seville. We'll tell you more about what we're doing in this gorgeous corner of the world and how we got here real soon. Today, however, we want to focus on our adjustment period to a new city and everything such a change of rhythm and customs involves when you're no longer passing by, but you've chosen to make it your home.
The first thing we did when we learned about our destination was research: we started following the City Hall Twitter account and subscribed to mailing lists. From there, one thing led to another and, in a matter of days, we already had a bunch of cultural activities in our schedule to fast-track our immersion over the first month.
There is no better way to become familiar with a new city than doing a walking tour and, like we always say, if the tour guide is a local, even better. We were lucky enough to have Marta as our guide and she went above and beyond by not only telling us the history of Moors and Romans roaming the streets and alleys of Seville, but also giving us a long list of restaurant recommendations to eat out. That was the moment when we realized that the regional cuisine in Spain is almost as important as flamenco and one of their main sources of national pride.
Thanks to the City Hall e-bulletin we heard that one of Spain's most iconic actresses, the one and only Carmen Maura, was going on stage at Lope de la Vega theater starring in a play that made us quite curious after reading the synopsis. What a wise choice! We never dreamed of seeing one of Almodovar's actresses perform and we were not disappointed. “La Golondrina” is on a world tour with local casts, so if you have the opportunity to see it, don't miss out. We recommend going in blind since at first it seems the story will go one way but then things take an unexpected turn that gave us some serious goosebumps.
A week later, we opened our mailbox to find the weekend events and a very special program which detailed the activities scheduled for the White Night festival, the one night of the year when many sights open after hours and charge a reduced fee or allow free access. You can't even begin to imagine all the options. In circumstances such as this one, it is best to have a contingency plan. We made a list with our top three options and their back-ups, just in case the events were at full capacity or closing by the time we got there.
We managed to successfully meet our ambitious goal: we did a tour that took us to key historical places related to Sevillian women that are rarely remembered (such as Doña Guiomar and Pastora Imperio), we went to La Giralda and were amazed by how fast que line moved being one of the most attractive and popular spots in the city, and lastly, at midnight, we got on a double-decker sightseeing bus to see Seville under a different light. We made it to that moment with enough energy thanks to a quick stop at one of the many charming tapas bars in the old part of town. The cuisine deserves a post of its own, so we will not go into detail right now for fear of going off topic.
Dramatized visit to historic ships
This activity was not free, but the stars were finally aligned, so we couldn't miss this rare opportunity. We were in Spain the night before October 12 and, as luck would have it, it was the 500th anniversary of the first single voyage of global circumnavigation, a fact Seville celebrated by giving tours of exact replicas of the vessels docked at the pier. A troupe of actors welcomed us in character and began to tell us what life was like on board of galleons and caravels from the 15th century according to their roles in the Spanish and Portuguese-led expeditions.
It is fascinating to hear the other side of the story, that of the conquistadors, the “discoverers” who ended up plundering our territories. It is worth mentioning that these stories of explorers are usually told from a male perspective, but this time around we were able to learn about two women; whether real or not is beside the point, what matters is that they represented the story of many unsung female heroes cast aside by our History books.
Guided tour with a restoration expert at Real Alcazar
What is the main advantage of being an active Twitter user and following the right accounts? When the Real Alcazar gave out 80 free tickets to the general public to be part of a lucky few who would be able to ask an expert any questions about the restoration process in a World Heritage site, we were the first to hear about it and sign up. Once the 45 minute walk came to an end and after taking our time to appreciate all the little details that would go unnoticed to the untrained eye, we had the rest of the afternoon free to wander around the halls and gardens at will.
Ham Carving Contest
Can you get any more Spanish than a ham carving contest? When we saw the street posters advertising the event, we didn't know exactly what it was all about, but when we arrived that Sunday morning at Plaza España, we realized just how serious they are about mastering not only the best technique, but also the art of skillful ham carving and its presentation. The finalists were placed in tents where all the curious eyes could see them work hard while dancers in their traditional flamenco dresses performed in a nearby stage. During the contest, they also offered a 6 euro tasting of ham slices. It may not be my grandmother's Sunday pasta, but it was a pretty good Sunday in Seville.
Meeting of regional and provincial houses
In the Andalusian city that doesn't sleep, on that very same weekend, there was a meeting of community representatives from all across Spain. They gathered in stalls around Plaza Nueva, where they offered produce from each region and we were able to try goat cheese and Iberian spicy sausage from Extremadura and a refreshing cup of Valencian horchata to ease the heat of the mid-afternoon October sun. There was a stage placed in the center of the square where the representatives of Asturias sang their anthem and showed us the proper way to pour their cider. We left with the certainty that we are more than ready to travel across a country that turned out to be much more diverse and full of complexities than we had anticipated.
Festival of Nations
As if all of that weren't enough, our first month in Seville came to an end with a night out in Prado de San Sebastian, where we took a food tour around the world while looking at the most diverse crafts and clothes from all the countries that had booths at the market. I have to admit that it was exciting to see the Argentinian booth with alfajores de maicena and choripán. There were musical performances every day but, for us, that night was all about finding the perfect dinner. We couldn't make up our minds until we heard a group of cheerful cooks singing and dancing traditional music as they prepared paella, chicken cooked on a disc and chorizo in cider with potatoes. We may have had to make some tea to help with digestion once we got to our apartment, but it was completely worth it.
If we've learned anything during our first few weeks in Seville is that even when you take your time to plan ahead and pay attention to all there is to see and do, it may not be one of the largest cities, but it is all the same impossible to take it all in. Now we have the advantage of officially being legal residents, though temporarily adopted, we enjoy the same benefits as Sevillians to access their culture and their history, one more enriching and captivating than the other.
The most difficult part about living in such a vibrant city with so much to offer day in and day out is going to be studying and working when every fiber in our bodies is telling us to go outside and be tourists… How does the saying go? Be careful what you wish for.