A Long Weekend in Seville – Part 1 – Getting to Know The City, Alcázar Palace and My New Favourite Bar

At the beginning of July, Iñaki and I spent a long weekend in a place new to both of us. We took a couple of days off work and met in the middle. We went to Seville, to explore a little!
Yaaaas, it felt good to flex those rhyming muscles.
Anyway, dazzling rhyming aside, I also realise Seville isn’t in the middle of Spain. But it took us pretty much the same amount of time (just short of three hours) from our respective cities to meet at Sevilla Santa Justa station. Normally one of us travels, so it was fun to reunite in a new place in a new way.

We arrived in the early afternoon, checked into our hotel and left the bags. I wanted to stay in the old town of Seville, the best part of town! I chose Hotel Abanico as it had great reviews on location, price and service. Hotel Abanico is a charming little spot and it’s got a lot of character; as you can see from the lobby shots. Our bedroom walls were terracotta, the curtains flowery. We had a tiny balcony and the bed was the best. Crisp white sheets and super cosy. I slept like a rock every night.

The bathrooms could do with an update but hey, you can’t have everything! They had complimentary coffee throughout the day and a good breakfast deal that to be honest, we skipped. It was a prepay option for the entire stay and I don’t like that sort of commitment. I’m glad we didn’t as I’d rather find new spots for my favourite meal of the day. Pancakes rule! As do all other breakfast foods.
The hotel’s best part for sure is the aforementioned location, but it’s also kinda dangerous – you need to be alert! The streets are so incredibly narrow, so much so that you need to duck your head out of the building slowly so you don’t lose it to a passing van. When the coast is clear, scurry, scurry away and never look back!

With check-in and bag abandonment done and dusted, we were ready for a beer. Checking in is thirsty work you know. The thirstiest. We found a bar nearby; Bar Alfalfa. This was both a blessing and a curse. Allow me to explain.
I fell in love with this bar. Immediately. It ticks every god damn box on the checklist of everything an amazing bar should possess. Great food, great value, great atmosphere, those airy window-to-floor-open-door* vibes, great music and super happy, totally relaxed staff. Like a drug, I was hooked. I couldn’t get enough. My arms itched when I left. I knew it wouldn’t be long until I’d need another fix. While I’m happy we were so close and it was fate, finding your gem spot at the beginning of the holiday means that every other place has to live up to it. And believe me, Sevilla has a LOT of great bars. None like Bar Alfalfa though, that’s for sure.

*Rhyming again. I’m on FIRE

So we got crackin’ on the catching up and the cañas. We ordered a plate of mindblowing bresoala. It was only €3.50.

Bruschetta Sicilana – Warm toasty and comforting, with melted provolone, mortadella, tomato, rocket and olive oil dressing. This guy cost €3.20. He didn’t last long.

Last but not least, baked goat’s cheese with salsa verde. €2.80. Melted goat’s cheese should be illegal, it’s too good. The texture, smell and flavours are not of this world.

Here you go, just in case you were dying to see them all together. Can you deal with this beauty?

Then, when I’m absolutely overwhelmed with joy and genuinely couldn’t be more elated, Iñaki points out that they serve breakfast. GAHHHHHH. Too much to handle, right? I thought so too. He knew by my face we’d be having breakfast here. And maybe every meal, forever. I don’t think his Italian roots minded so much.

Post lunch and we did some strollin’. A few laps around to take everything in. I tried hard to get a picture of the cathedral – it just wouldn’t fit! The best thing to do is go a couple of streets back. Pro tip, right there. Close to the cathedral is the Alcázar Palace, so we decided to go there for the day, knowing it would be all queues and humans during the weekend. It did not disappoint.
The Alcázar is very similar to my ol’ neighbouring pal here, The Alhambra. You can’t beat a bit of Moorish influence and their lavish attention to detail. I found the Alcázar palace a bit more relaxed than The Alhambra, it’s less complex and the whole thing can be covered in a lot less time. Alhambra tickets are also tricky to get your hands on last minute, pre-booking is a must. We waltzed into Alcázar with no issues. Both are similar and at the same time, uniquely beautiful – and both were used as filming locations for Game of Thrones. Y’know, just in case you’re into TV facts.
I took a lot of pictures. I cut them in half. So here we go!

Spot the garden gnome.The gardens* were my favourite part. Oh boy, they were neat. Beautiful courtyards and all kinds of curious flowers encapsulated in a maze of perfectly manicured hedges, babbling fountains and colourful tiles. The tiles all around the city each tell a different story. The combination of colours and designs paired with a perfect blue sky is an instant mood booster.

* there’s even a café!

Post palace and we were hungry again. Off I go, ponytail swinging. I mean business.

We met an adorably fuzzy (albeit nonchalant) new friend on the way. I realise I just told you we were on the prowl for food, but no, of course we didn’t eat him. As if we’d be capable of such a catastrophe! Ha!
Yes, there will be more puns. No, please don’t leave.

We soon found ourselves in the Santa Cruz neighbourhood and our first food stop was Casa Tomate; which I’ll admit I chose due to the dazzling lights. I’d love my sitting room to have that many twinklers. I also looked around for tomatoes. I found no tomatoes. They dazzled me with their lights, and then with their lies.
We ordered two glasses of tinto de verano (with lemon, of course) which I will now associate forever with Seville. We had it at pretty much every bar so we could drink and eat ’til kingdom come without feeling the effects.
Still on my goat’s cheese buzz, I ordered some with maple syrup, and Iñaki ordered rabo de toro croquetas. Anything to do with rabo de toro (oxtail) is his thing. Safe to say, he loved them. My goat’s cheese was good too, but that amount of maple syrup would drown a man. I was expecting a little swirl. Only a sap would enjoy that much.

We stayed close to Casa Tomate, as Calle Mateos Gago is just wall to wall tapas bars. It’s got a great atmosphere – a lot is going on and there’s a lot of people, but not annoyingly so. We went to a bar called Patanchón where I got some chicken skewers and Iñaki had rabo de toro again. To be fair, it’s on every menu in Seville, it’s their thing too; they love it as much as he does. We also stopped by La Azotea, a much-loved bar in the city. So much so that there’s more than one location. Their tapas are a bit more expensive but fancier, if you will. They serve up salmon tartar, foie, cod with bechamel, bellota, morcilla, things like that. You can’t go wrong with morcilla. Ever.

Our last stop on that particular eating spree was Gago 6, where we shared croquetas, a mini chicken curry (I can’t remember why we ordered this, random) and pork cheek cooked in Pedro Ximénez sherry. From my experience in Granada, you can’t walk too far without seeing or reading something about that sherry. It’s mighty popular here in Andalucía.
Apologies I have no pictures of the food (unlike me, I know) but more often than not, you gotta put the camera away.

Full of tapas and who knows how many oxtails, we were off again for a few laps around, veering off into not yet discovered narrow streets with all sorts of nooks and crannies. We ended up in a few of peaceful little squares with nothing but the soft sound of trickling water from one of the city’s many fountains, and the company of cheeky little birds who had no problem getting up close and personal on the hunt for scraps.

We were having the best day! It was also a tiring day. The early start and all the walking was catching up on us. We realised Plaza de España was a bit of a walk from where we were, so we decided to save it for another day.

Heading back toward our hotel, we passed a Hard Rock Cafe. Familiarity got the best of me (I’ve had some great nights in Hard Rock Cafes, from Dublin to Barcelona, Philadelphia to New Orleans) and we ended up having a drink in there. Why did I include this shot? This is the reason I was lured in! I love margaritas. And since Cinco de Mayo, Hard Rock has an offer where you can get a flight of three, with chips and salsa on the side.
Oh my god.
Sure, it was the weirdest Hard Rock I’ve ever been to (Spanish courtyards don’t really work with the HR brand) and only one of the margaritas was nice (pomegranate, if you’re wondering – the others were a bit too sweet) but they look the part and I wish more bars did this.

We then walked along Paseo de Catalina de Ribera, a shortcut around the corner from Hard Rock; the prettiest way to take us “home”. If you look to the top left, you can see the palm trees from the Alcázar Palace.
I say “home” because we didn’t go straight to the hotel. No way, no siree. Not on my watch.
We weren’t setting foot into Hotel Abanico or in fact anywhere until we paid another visit to…

BAR ALFALFA!!! I had an overwhelming urge to clap my hands after I wrote that. Ahem.

We stopped by for a little snack because everyone knows that nothing works up an appetite like eating all day.We ordered a cazuela of the most delicious and gooey good-for-the-sole-silky-smooth-strings-everywhere scamorza. You know the type, it tastes like hotdogs.
It was all we needed really; cava, scamorza and crusty bread in an ambient, beautifully lit bar. Oh, and each other of course! When we first started dating we used to share a lot of stringy melted cheese dishes in bars, and there’s no sign of it slowing down. The best tradition to be fair. Good times.

Action shot!

Easily one of the best and memorable days I’ve ever had, and we slept like babies. Not just that night but every night. During the entire trip, I felt relaxed and weightless (which is weird as I’m pretty sure I’d sink in the Guadalquivir with all the tapas I ate). Time seemed to slow right down, and four days felt like a full holiday.

I was convinced it was the bed and all the walking, but our pal Molly who did her Erasmus in Seville told us that’s the city’s zen. I’m inclined to believe her.

  ♥ ♥ ♥

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