A Long Weekend in Seville, Part 2 – Seville Cathedral, Plaza de España and 2 Flamenco Shows

Welcome to part 2, the final frontier!
…of this Sevillian adventure. I wanted to make that clear, in case you thought each day of our trip would warrant its very own post. Good heavens, no! Every meticulous detail? Overkill.
Instead, I squished them all together into a little Friday, Saturday, Sunday jamón sandwich.
I just added the jamón for funsies. Who doesn’t think of Spain when you hear the word jamón? That and it’s delicious, and as much of a Spanish staple (sandwich or otherwise) as it gets. You can also say, “Jamón! Let’s get to it!”
Such a versatile meat.

Exhibit A. A sandwich with juicy jamón.
On Friday morning we went for breakfast at Bar Alfalfa. We kickstarted our day with a tostada Andaluza (the freshest and crispiest bread with jamón and tomato) a tostada Italiana (that same divine bread but with provolone and mortadella) a picture-perfect frothy café con leche and some other liquidy things. I’m pretty sure it was just under €10. What a breakfast! Technically breakfast. We ordered at 11.45am; their menu runs until midday. Already winning.
We wanted to fuel up before heading to see the cathedral again. Not just all it’s glory on the outside, but the inside too! People do say it’s the inside that counts.

We took a leisurely food-go-down walk before paying Big C a visit, which really consisted of me taking a peek around a few lovely looking bars. It was a bit early for lunch or any sign of life yet. Passing by again later that day, it came as no surprise that each one was a hive of activity; the hum of conversation, a basket of bread at every table, the clinking of glasses and the occasional hyperactive child bouncing off the floorboards, testing the waiter’s patience. I blame the grandparents. Everyone knows they’re the real sugar pushers.

When we arrived at the cathedral, there was a queue. *Gasp* Other Friday tourists! That being said, the people herding was good. Things moved along very swiftly. While we were waiting, I couldn’t help but look over my shoulder at the Alcázar Palace across the square. The queue was far worse.* We definitely made the right choice going on Thursday. Winning again.

*It transpired that Saturday’s queue would take the cake; resembling a very long conga line. And not the fun kind. Poor souls.

These shots from inside The Santa Maria de la Sede really don’t do it justice. And for that, I had to make most of them into a collage. The quality has been a little off on both Seville posts. Apologies, things should be back to their regular programming in the next post.

Even if the pictures were better, you’d still have to visit to experience such a vastly impressive space. It is the world’s largest Gothic cathedral after all. The entire basilica is bordered by many uniquely designed, equally ornate rooms and the beautiful Patio de Naranjas.
I adored the little skylight. When we walked through the cathedral doors it felt like we were transported back in time. To look up and see a dot of blue sky reminded me of the present, the 21st century; how far we’ve come…how many people from all walks of life this sanctuary has seen.
With all corners of the cathedral done, it was time to take it to the next level – The Giralda; the bell tower.
I was really impressed by the walkway to the top. Any cathedral I have ever visited, getting to the top meant steep narrow steps that made me nervous; my nails dug deep into the walls. This was unique in that it’s ramped the whole way up. 
You just go around and around, walking on an incline until you reach the top. No tiny little deathtrap stone stairwells with steps designed to accommodate a badgers paw and not an actual human foot.

City views. We reached the top! I wouldn’t have minded a dip in that pool over yonder. It looks mighty refreshing.
Santa Maria de la Sede, done and dusted. Join us back at street level?

By the way, our friend Molly told us you can get a cheaper ticket that combines the cathedral and Alcázar Palace visits. We had already visited the palace by the time she kindly passed on some tips, but if you’re considering a visit to Seville, it’s a thing. No queues either.

Time for a snack! Isn’t it always? We liked the look of Pelayo each time we passed it by, so we stopped off in a seat by the street for a tinto de verano, a couple of tapas, and discussed our impressions of the cathedral. Nothing crazy or worth reporting on the food side of things (I’m pretty sure we shared chicken fingers) because we had our hearts set on…

…ice cream! A generous scoop of dulce de leche for both of us (the foundation of ice cream outings, the other flavour is a free-for-all) Nutella for me and vanilla for him. Or maybe pineapple, or some sort of odd flavour. He’s weird like that. If it’s not chocolate or Kinder based, I’m not interested.
We weren’t too far at all from Calle San Fernando (where Hard Rock Cafe featured in the last post) so we walked with the frozen goods in that general direction, ready to see Plaza de España. Iñaki was happy for two reasons. First of all, he had ice cream. One of his favourite foods of all time. Secondly, we weren’t just strolling for the hell of it. You see, I walk aimlessly; for fun. Iñaki walks with purpose, to get from A to B.

Isn’t this pretty? We stopped here for a few minutes to check out this building. It caught my eye from the street and I had to get closer. Oddly, no one was around. We sat for a few minutes in silence, listening to birds and the leaves rustling in the trees. Another reason I love Seville. Lots of opportunities to see green. I’m used to a lot of green, it revives me. I need the nature, I need the quiet.

Another greenery detour! Or maybe the building from above belongs to this park as it’s enormous? Parque María Luisa is one hell of a park. It’s a beautiful spot with plenty of shade, all you need for a super hot day in Seville. You can also rent a bike to whizz around, or if you fancy yourself enough, you could always get a horse-drawn carriage (which will also take you to Plaza de España). There are lots of ponds too, full of hungry little ducks. I wish I hadn’t eaten the biscuit with my café con leche earlier that day so I could feed the little guys some crumbs. Although I hear biscuits can kill a duck. Especially Jammie Dodgers.

Another handy thing about Parque de María Luisa; it’s right next to Plaza de España. You won’t need Google Maps – you’ll be able to see the towers in the distance. Or you can get there if you use the force! Like the Jedi did. Fun fact: Plaza de España was used as a filming location for Star Wars Episode II – Attack of The Clones. That was in 2002. Should we go back a little further?

Plaza de España was built in 1928, which I was quite surprised to hear. For Spanish architecture, that’s very recent. It was designed by Aníbal González (who also designed many pavilions in the María Luisa park) for the Ibero-American Exposition held in Seville in 1929. It’s home to 58 benches, all designed with colourful ceramics that represent different provinces of Spain.
The tiles are my favourite. Spectacular designs in cheery colours, shining in the sun. You can’t help but run your fingertips along them. So smooth!

Fun fact number 2: This picture was taken just as I was checking how the one before this one turned out on my little camera screen. Inception.

The stairs inside Plaza de España. Sometimes the parts you don’t often see are just as beautiful.

With the cathedral and Plaza de España done (such organisation!) we headed back toward the centre in no rush at all. The weekend was just beginning. We stopped in a bar or two along the way, grazing on ham and more of that tinto de verano goodness. Some sparkling water was thrown in for good measure of course. You gotta strike a balance somewhere, you know?
One of the bars was also a little food market which was very much a feast for the eyes. Just look at all those olive oils and jams! Adorable. And…jamón! For the rest of the trip, pictures are scarce. We stopped by the hotel so I could drop off my camera and some other bits I was so done carrying. I just wanna be free, man.

We figured when in Seville, we should probably visit a flamenco show. We passed by Casa de la Guitarra and booked seats to see the show on Saturday night. We both really enjoy Spanish guitar so it seemed like the obvious choice. We wanted some insider tips though, the real deal. Cue our insider, Molly. I realise I’ve mentioned her many times now. Hi Molly!
The lady of the hour suggested La Carbonería, where the flamenco is free and the drinks are cheap. You can’t argue with that. So we decided to do both as we figured they’d be completely different experiences. If you find yourself in Seville and want to see flamenco but don’t have the dollar, definitely stop by La Carbonería.  Everywhere else charges anywhere from €17 to €45 per person. Thanks for all the great tips Molls, they served us well.

La Carbonería has a great atmosphere and accommodates people aplenty with a plethora of long wooden benches. It’s pretty central (about 10 mins walking from the cathedral) and you can order food closer to the beginning of the show. Apparently their sangria is famous too. The stage is quite small, so you wanna head there a little early to get a good seat. The show starts about 10.30pm but if you miss the first, they come back on every half an hour or so.

The above black and whites of meeee are the only pictures from the show. I’m not big on recording shows or concerts anyway. All the bother people go to, do they ever watch them back? We were one of the first there (right in front of the stage, it paid off) which meant we got excited with cheap pitchers (first tinto de verano, then beer). I think we can all tell from the pictures that the tinto hit at a certain point. Or…was it the verano? We got a lot of sun that day. Yeah…it was probably that.

On Saturday we did what we do best. Hitting bars and eating things. You know what that looks like and how it goes! The picture above pays homage to my breakfast that day. We went to another place seconds from our hotel (it really is in the best location) which looked very modern indeed. It’s called PanYPiù, and reminded me of so many places in Madrid in my old neighbourhood.
We went there instead of Bar Alfalfa for a change because truth be told, I didn’t want to scare away my new crush, or at the very least get a restraining order!
PanYPiù was fancy. A bit pricey compared to other spots around the same area, but a good spot if you like elaborate sandwiches to start your day or if you’re a fan of baked goods, particularly chocolate croissants. The ones in PanYPiù have a more filling-to-croissant ratio, and will smear your entire face with oozing chocolate while you eat them. Have a fistful of napkins ready. Check your face before you pay the handsome waiter. And for the love of God, don’t wear white. I failed on all accounts.
If you’re more refined, they serve salads, cheeses, wines…all sorts. A nice bright spacious area with plenty of room for a good ol’ family meal, whatever time of day.

We then walked around the shopping streets and went to see the Metropol Parasol. Nicknamed ‘The Mushrooms’/’Las Setas’, as the wooden structure is in the form of giant mushrooms. The views are great, absolutely. Other than that, I found it plain and a bit of an eyesore. Apologies to any Metropol Parasol fans!

Then we went to The Merchant, one of Seville’s Irish bars. Sure you’d have to; it’s a right of passage! As a nation, we seem to love going on holiday and visiting the token Irish bar. Or in many cases, bars. I do it in Spain as sort of a hobby; my ongoing quest to find the best. I’ve been to some really impressive ones, and some that look like sad storage rooms with a single Guinness sign outside as the only Irish representation.
Well, friends (and fellow Irish) this pub is first-rate indeed. Above is my only picture of The Merchant as I only had my Spanish phone on me; which is old. You know yourself. Anyway, it’s a great bar. Good atmosphere, great music, sports, good prices, good food (a nice mix of American in there too – with the option of tapas or bigger portions) an impressive Guinness for Spain (or so Iñaki tells me, I had a Bulmers) and they even have the little half-pint Guinness glasses that are a rare find in Ireland because frankly, people nick them.
There’s just one single drawback – it’s warm. A ceiling fan in summer just doesn’t cut it. This is the Spanish-Irish bar of dreams. But for wintertime. Regardless of temperature, it’s worth a visit for the excellent playlist alone.

Two ciders and two pints of the black stuff and we were off again. Correction, I was off like a rocket, because we were on our way to Bodeguita Romero! The reason I was so excited to visit Bodega Romero was all thanks to an Instagram pal.
There’s this wonderful community of Irish foodies on Instagram. We share great places to eat, wines, cheeses, upcoming markets, the works. Along with our passion for food and wine, we share a love of Spain. The weather, the food, the drinks, the prices. Some of the Instagram gang are indeed Spanish too.
The very knowledgeable and helpful Kyran (@kyranwexford) who has been to Seville many times suggested a few places to go, and one was Bodeguita Romero. When I read the word pringa, my heart fluttered. Then his equally lovely wife Claire (@clairesquire) came along and we had all the interweb laughs. I’ll forever remember them as the couple who made my Saturday! Just look at that picture above.
Why does my heart flutter for pringa? I was spellbound by it once in my life, and spent many weeks after looking for it on menus all over the place. It wasn’t easy to find, and I soon forgot about it. But let me tell you, Pringa is the bomb. It’s basically a selection of different pig meats (morcilla, chorizo, pork) slow cooked for hours then sandwiched between crusty bread. We ordered a few montaditos to share – pringa (delicious) chorizo picante and sobresada (Balearic sausage) and Roquefort. All delicious, all kinda greasy, none light or diet- friendly in any way. Real Spanish tapas. Bring your meatlover pals here, and thank Kyran and Claire. The staff are particularly nice at Bodeguita Romero too, presumably loving life because their bellies are full of pringa.

That’s it for the Saturday afternoon tapas tales. Those montaditos kept us full for hours, all the way to our 9pm show at Casa de la Guitarra. Above is my only picture of the venue. You could call it intimate, as it only seats about 50 or 60 people. If you want to have a beer, do so beforehand as there’s no bar. It simply wouldn’t fit!
The show lasted an hour, and as I mentioned before it focuses a lot more classic Spanish guitar than regular flamenco shows. There were three performers – the amazing guitarist who played beautifully, as if the guitar was an extension of his arm. A talented lady singing the ever emotional cante jondo and a very intense dancer. Intense in a good way, flamenco dancers always are.
It was very enjoyable, but for such a small room I’d make the show 45 minutes, you become aware of the size and it can get warm. Overall a really good experience, especially the guitar.

Seeing our very indulgent Saturday through (heavy foods and croissants everywhere…yikes!) we couldn’t not pay a visit to Bar Alfalfa. It was our last night in Seville after all.

We sat in our favourite corner, the place was swinging as usual. Good music, atmosphere and a lot of relaxed looking people with very happy faces. We ordered provoleta, the second dish of the Stringy Cheese in Seville Saga. I had a glass of wine from Penedès (we’ll be going there in the not too distant future, exciting!) and Iñaki had their vermut casero, which is really good. Of course a bar like this makes their own vermouth and pacharán.
On Sunday morning we went again, for the real very last time. We both had the tosada Italiana (more provoleta to send us on our way) fresh orange juice and coffee. I asked Iñaki if they think that we’re total weirdos, visiting every day like lovelorn stalkers. Although why would they? Bars and restaurants love regulars, business is business after all. I looked around the bar one last time, at all the others enjoying their breakfast, some buried in the paper. And then I saw it. I recognised that loud Hawaiian shirt from last night! And the two ladies sipping coffee, they were there too the night before, sharing dessert. It turns out we weren’t the only repeat offenders, the bar suddenly took on a new meaning. It became a clubhouse for a group of weirdos with unspoken bond who just couldn’t get enough. Turns out a lot of people know an excellent bar when they see one. I’ll definitely be back, and I’ll be looking out for that blinding Hawaiian shirt.

And so concludes our July trip to Seville, documented on the last day of September. I hope if you end up in Seville, you’ll scale the heights of the cathedral with a pringa in hand, bring a sleeping bag to Bar Alfalfa (as there’s no point in ever leaving) try an impressive Irish bar and go to a flamenco show. No matter what you choose to do, you’ll enjoy it through and through. It’s a very special city, that much I’ll say is true. Olé!

By the way, people said we were crazy to go to Seville in July. We got lucky, it actually wasn’t that hot; the weather was very pleasant. The city is also a lot quieter in July, so hotels are that little bit cheaper, and they’re already very affordable as it is. Just a tip!

If you missed it, here’s part one.

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