(Speed Read and pictures below!)
I finally get to tell you about my trip to Sevilla! It’s one of my favorite cities in Spain. Orange trees in the streets, flamenco guitar in the plaza, the world’s oldest bullfighting ring, an old city that’s still mainly intact from sometime in the tenth century—it basically contains all of the Spanish stereotypes, and it’s amazing.
This was an NYU sponsored trip, which meant my only responsibility was to make it to the train on time Friday morning (I did, no worries!). Traveling by train is a lot more fun than airplane—less security, and the view out the window is a lot prettier! I discovered that there are lakes in Spain! Not many, and they’re really little, but they are there!
Anyway, we hit the ground running when we arrived in Sevilla—dropped off our backpacks in the hostel [which was amazing, it had an interior courtyard with a fountain and old furniture and book shelves with books about flamenco in the room] and then we headed right to the Cathedral. Two NYU professors came with us, and they guided us through all of our touristy things (and made it fun!).
Cathedral history: it was originally built as a mosque back in the day when Muslims ruled in southern Spain. Ferdinand III conquered the city in 1248 and turned it into a church, but the tower from the old mosque is still standing (it’s called la Giralda, named after the weather vane on top of it). Fun fact: There are no stairs in this tower, only a ramp that goes to the top. Back when the Muslim muezzin had to do the call to prayer five times a day from the tower, he would ride a horse to the top—much smarter than climbing a million stairs.
The Cathedral houses the tombs of several important Spanish kings and also, supposedly, Christopher Columbus (the Dominican Republic also claims to have his body, although I think they did some DNA tests a few years ago to verify this. You can Google it and let me know J )
The Cathedral was really neat, but also dark and kind of like other cathedrals—a bunch of side chapels with paintings and statues of saints, central chorus area where the organ is, and a huge altar. After the Cathedral, we ate lunch (Spanish lunch, so it took like two hours. But it was lovely J) and then visited the Alcázar, the royal palace.
Alcázar: First off, this is one of my favorite sites in Spain. Although it was built for a Christian king, he was a huge fan of Islamic architecture, o he commissioned Muslim architects to build it. This means that the decorations are a mix of the royal Spanish coat of arms and lines and lines of Arabic calligraphy quoting from the Qur’an. All of the walls are covered beautiful tiles (azulejos) and I’ve decided that in the future mansion I own, I will cover the walls in the tiles. The Alcázar also has a huge garden (from the Cathedral tower it looked like a jungle in the middle of the city), but we didn’t have much time to explore it.
After seeing the Alcázar, we walked through the Jewish quarter, which was a lot of pretty, old buildings and winding streets, then went back to the hotel to rest for a while, since we’d missed our siesta earlier. Later that evening, we went out for dinner, and then some friends and I went to a flamenco show. It was pretty informal, mainly a bar with long tables surrounding a little stage. The flamenco show was short, but amazing, and I really wish I had a video because I don’t think I’ll be able to explain it well. There were three people on stage, a guitar player, a singer, and the dancer, and the musicians started to play/sing, and it seemed like the danger just got up and started pretty much whenever she wanted to. Flamenco dance seems to have a lot of expressive arm movements, jumping, twirling, and incredibly fast tap dancing. [Fun fact: you can get a PhD in flamenco. They even train you how to do the facial expressions. Crazy right?] It was a ton of fun to watch, and I wish it would have lasted longer!
Saturday morning we visited la Macarena, the Virgin Mary that’s the patron saint of Sevilla. La Macarena is a statue of Mary housed in a church (same name), and every year during Holy Week there is a huge celebration with floats, people in costume, and they put the statue on a float that’s carried by a group of men who are members of groups connected with the church. Carrying the float is a huge honor—I’m not quite sure how they work out who gets picked, but I suspect donations are involved. People work all year round maintaining the floats and the robes and costumes that everyone wears.
We were also lucky enough to see a wedding when we visited the Macarena! This one looked pretty traditional—all of the women were wearing really brightly colored dressed (magenta, orange, green) with big hats that had huge feathers on them. They were a lot of fun to see!
After that we went to the Maestranza, the bull ring in Sevilla. It’s the oldest bull fighting ring continuously in operation in the world, so it’s kind of a big deal. (We just toured the building; we didn’t have tickets to a show). We learned about the history of the ring, the school for bullfighters that’s next door, and the culture of bullfighting (tauromaquia). I’m not a huge fan of the idea of bullfighting, but I can respect their dedication to it.
I spent the rest of my time in Sevilla walking around the narrow streets in the old city with some of my friends, stopping for cookies on the way, before we had to get on the train back to Madrid. It was a lovely trip, but, as always, too short!
This past week nothing too notable happened, since we’re in the height of paper deadlines, so my fellow students and I have been spending most of our free hours in the library. I did, however, manage to find the time to return to our taco place and walk through the Retiro park—we’re just starting to get some fall colors here, I will try to take pictures before the leaves fall (apparently autumn is super short here).
I hope you’re all well and you enjoyed reading!
-Awesome trip to Sevilla, saw ALL the sights
-Spent 95% of my time in the library
1. There was an adoption drive for puppies and kittens in Retiro this weekend. It was so hard to resist the cute fluffy things!
2. I got my flu shot! Now I can travel the metro without fear of infection
3. I learned the word for “discombobulated” this week: despistado