Trip Report Part 3 - Seville

Jun 14th, 2004, 03:13 PM
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Trip Report Part 3 - Seville

Seville:

Aah Seville! Upon arriving to Seville the first and most difficult challenge of the time spent there is finding the hotel. Even though you might have the street address, as we did, the cab driver had no idea where our particular street was (we understood why later on) so it was good we knew of some key areas nearby, such as the plaza our hotel was nearest to. Upon getting dropped off at this nearest plaza, we now had to set about finding the hotel on our own which was no small feat! We walked around for a few minutes and absolutely dumb lucked into finding our place, the Casa del Maestro. We were originally going to stay at the Hotel Amadeus but upon reading some things about the history and charm of the Casa del Maestro I chose to have us stay there instead. I can't say with certainty that this was a great decision as I think the Amadeus is very, very good, but I also can say it was not a bad decision as the Casa del Maestro was very charming, very romantic and we received amazing service as well as a first rate breakfast each morning on the roof top terrace. And the Escada products in the bathroom were a nice touch as was the comfy living room on the main floor with CD player and available computer for guests to check on emails and playoff hockey scores.

Once settled in to our room (the very romantic Almoradi room) we wandered around Seville to try to orient ourselves and to get some key reference points. Back to the hotel for a little siesta (it was about 33C / 92F while we were there) and then we got ready to go out for our first night in Seville. Our first night was a bit of a disaster as we wandered around lost for a good two hours. We do not normally get lost when we travel, but we did not have good reference points yet and you can get pretty turned around in Seville. We finally got our bearings (and our exercise) and found a tapas bar to sit down to for something to eat. I cannot recall the name which is fine as it was not spectacular although it did satisfy our general formula of locals, off the main drag and very busy. But, we ordered the variety fish platter which was pretty much all deep fried (what is the cholesterol level in Spain) and quite average. The night ended on a good note however as we found an amazing ice cream place (incredibly busy even at 12:30am) and then retired to the rooftop terrace to share a glass of wine, some cheese, and some jamon from a black hoofed pig all obtained earlier in the day from a local deli type place.

Woke up and went for a run along the river which was not quite as spectacular as running in Toledo, but still very nice. Started off our day with an amazing breakfast on the roof overlooking the Giralda and then headed to the Plaza Nuevo for a walking tour with the incredible and charming Concepcion. She is a native Sevillian and is a delight to spend time with. She knows her history very well and delivers it in an entertaining and personable way. Following the two hour walking tour with her we not only understood the history of Seville better, but we also had a great recommendation for lunch and had a much better understanding of our way around Seville. I highly recommend everyone take this tour with Concepcion and do it sooner in your visit to Seville rather than later. We had fresh paella for lunch at the place that was recommended which is on an intersecting street between the two main shopping streets of Tetuana and Sierpes. Most paella you find is frozen but at this place it is cooked fresh each day in a big cauldron and is crowded with locals by 2:00pm for their lunch. Once it is gone, it is gone. We got there at about 1:15 to make sure we did not miss out. Following lunch we joined Concepcion again for a tour of the Cathedral which was again a great experience. This Cathedral is amazing and she showed us the key areas of interest. My wife and I raced each other up the 35 (or is it 37) ramps to the top of the Giralda tower to see some amazing views of Seville. What a beautiful city full of history and romance.

Back to the room for our Spanish siesta and now that we know our way around much better it was time to tackle the city for some great tapas fare based on Maribel's recommendations. Our first place was the reputed genesis of tapas, El Reconcillo. We had lots of fun here trying to figure out what to order, watching them write our bill out in chalk on the centuries old bar and realizing early on that this is not the type of place where you order a sangria and chose instead to simply order cerveza. From our first tapas bar we headed to our favourite, Casablanca. As soon as we walked in we knew we were going to love it. The food looked amazing, the place was packed with locals (or at least they looked and sounded local) and the waiter / bartender was very friendly and helpful. We had a few dishes by seeing what others were ordering and it was all good. We liked to stand together at the bar and try to blend in watching all the goings on. Great fun and great food! We ventured to one last place for some outdoor people watching and sangria drinking (had not had our quota yet) and then to the ice cream place for a midnight bowl of wonderful ice cream. When we find a good thing we stick with it - which is probably why we were there celebrating our 10 year anniversary. We ended the night back on our rooftop terrace with a glass of red wine and a very satisfying day now forever in our memories.

Woke up and went for a run along the river again and then sat down to our relaxing and very satisfying breakfast on the rooftop. We loved this each morning and really got us off on a great note. Not only was the breakfast very delicious, but they also provided wonderful treats and cookies from the nearby La Campana that we took with us for little snacks during the day. We went on our final tour with Concepcion to see the Alcazar. All three tours with Concepcion cost us 19 Euros each and were well worth the money. The Alcazar was beautiful and the gardens were a wonderful place to wander around together after the official tour was over. Following the tour we did a little shopping on the two main shopping streets that are pedestrian only and then we went for a fancy lunch to the Taberna Alabardero for a very nice and well priced lunch put on by the students of the cooking school. It is not only a satisfying experience from an gastronomic perspective, but it is also lots of fun as everyone from the chefs to the waiters to the bartenders are students however the quality of food and service is not even a little bit compromised. Following lunch we spent a few hours shopping along our two main shopping streets which seemed to contain a shoe store every second shop. We did have fun and came home with some gifts for family and friends. Back for a little rest and then out for the night again.

Although we do not typically like to repeat, as there is so much to discover, we had such fun the night before and enjoyed the food so much that we returned to El Reconcillo and Casablanca again, although we ordered different items. It was fun to go back to a place where you are recognized almost as if you were a regular and we seemed to be treated even better our second night there. Cannot say enough good things about both of these places and they were just as good, if not better, on our second visit. After Casablanca we decided to take the horse and carriage ride from the Cathedral to the park and back. It takes about 45 minutes and costs 30 Euros, but I talked our driver down to 25. When we were in Venice on our honeymoon we did not take a gondola ride as we thought it was too expensive and we have always regretted that decision. So, having learned from our mistake we did not pass up on the carriage ride and are glad for it. It was a wonderful experience and we will always remember it. During our travels from the one tapa bar to the other we passed by Alfalfa street and noticed everyone eating these steaming shell-like things at the outdoor tables and decided after Casablanca we would have to come back to try them out. We did get back and sat down outside with the locals and ordered a bowl of what everyone else was eating. They ended up being little snails which I think are called coquinas and the way you eat them is to grab the little heads that are barely sticking out of their shell with your front teeth and then slurp them into your mouth, or at least that is the way we ate them. Pretty tasty even if you are grabbing these little guys by the head to eat them. And of course, we had our pitcher of sangria. We ended the night as we did all others with some ice cream in the plaza and a glass of wine on the rooftop terrace. What a great way to end another great day.

Our final day allowed us to linger over breakfast, as we packed up and got ready to check out. Said our farewells to the ladies running the Casa del Maestro who had been very helpful and very kind to us and then took a taxi to the train station after we ran down to Sierpes street in order to get my wife a pair of shoes she had been thinking about. Hated to say goodbye to Seville but have wonderful memories of our time there and are certain we will be back some day. We got to the train station in order to rent our car from AutoEurope which was very easy and very good. We had requested a diesel with a cd player even though we were only getting a compact, and of course we had rented a car with a/c. We got everything we asked for and were pleased with our little car. Our trip now heads to Portugal so I will not bother posting details of that part of the trip under Spain but will author my 4th installment of Spain on the details of our return to Spain to visit the Extremadura area on our way back to Madrid.
10YearAnniversary is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 10:14 PM
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For the beginning of this trip report: http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34506428

- Sharon
SharonNRayMc is offline  
Jun 15th, 2004, 10:17 PM
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Actually... the entire trip report is at http://www.fodors.com/forums/threads...2&tid=34506525

- Sharon
SharonNRayMc is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 03:15 AM
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Thanks for the wonderful trip report. We're headed to Seville for a week in Nov., and it looks that with a combination of Maribel's file and Concepción the tour guide, we can't go wrong!

Riffic is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 05:23 AM
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I have fond memories of my trip to Sevilla in February, and this helped bring them back! I recall, an hour or so I spent being lost in Sevilla too!

Thanks.

Karen
kaudrey is offline  
Aug 24th, 2004, 05:55 AM
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What a wonderful trip report! We will be in Seville the end of September. I would love contact information for Concepcion if you can provide it.
mamc is offline  
Sep 27th, 2004, 03:25 PM
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Thanks for this trip report. I'm also interested in getting more information about the walking tours.
111op is offline  
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