So, I probably don’t need to tell most of you about how amazing Spain is. If you’ve been, you can relate, and if you haven’t been – GO!
After years of trying to decide between Madrid and Barcelona as my favorite Spanish city, on this trip I fell in love with yet another: Seville. It definitely had something to do with the spirit of this trip. I didn’t plan much beforehand – all I knew was that I was so excited to reconnect with old friends and share life with them in a beautiful new place. Looking back, I think this is the best way to experience Seville. My favorite thing about the city was getting a little lost amongst the windy, cobble-stoned side streets, only to turn a corner and discover a lovely plaza lined with cafes, the scent of coffee and freshly baked pastries wafting in the air. Luckily my friends didn’t have much of an agenda either, so we ordered lots of coffee and basked in sunny plazas and talked about life. Sounds dreamy, but at the same time I felt like it was the most vividly real my life had felt in a while. The companionship of my friends, the beauty of my surroundings, and the slow way I took in everything around me – that’s what life should be like!
I was also able to spend some time in Madrid with my host family from my semester abroad. I was happy to learn that I could still understand mostly everything, but my speaking skills have definitely decayed a bit in 3 years. I kept saying that it was “crying” rather than it was “raining” outside (the verbs in Spanish are llorar and llover, respectively. They are similar in my defense!). Something that didn’t change was the connection I felt with my Spanish family. They are some of the kindest people I know, and never hesitate to accommodate my needs. I feel so lucky to have their continued friendship, despite being separated by an ocean, time zones, and language.
Now, I don’t think I have an answer for what my favorite Spanish city is – and I’m not going to try and decide! Each place in Spain has it’s own special charm waiting to be discovered, but Spain as a whole is so special to me. The connection I feel to the language, to the lifestyle, to the culture – it’s unlike anywhere else. I wouldn’t be upset if I never returned to Italy, or England, but I know that Spain is somewhere my soul needs to return!
…but wait, how do you ever decide where to go?!
I actually had a friend ask me if he should visit Madrid or Seville not too long ago. I can’t pick between them myself, but I can certainly write a really really long email about my feelings on both 🙂 Here’s my take on each city:
Madrid is a lot more fast-paced and you can do things like go to these two awesome and world renowned Museums: La Reina Sofia and El Prado. Other cool sites are the Parque de Retiro where you can rent a little row boat, Plaza Mayor (apparently people were tried here during the Spanish Inquisition!), and the Royal Palace. You also could check out the awesome “mercados” where you can try different tapas and drinks at every counter (I like Mercado San Miguel and Mercado San Anton). The nightlife is insane – expect to stay out until the metro reopens at 6 am 😉 From Madrid it’s also easier to do day trips to really cool medieval cities like Toledo and Segovia. Not sure how into history you are, but in Segovia they have like the best preserved Roman aqueducts in the world:
… and Toledo is basically still a castle on a hill.
Seville was more relaxed and maybe more beautiful of a city. Every street is windy and gorgeous and full of personality, and you can discover the cutest café or plaza around every corner. The food was amazing and it was pretty easy to walk throughout the whole city (you’ll have to use public transport in Madrid). Walking through the city and pausing for “un café con leche” in plazas, without much of an agenda was my favorite part of Seville 🙂
One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been was the Real Alcazar in Seville:
It’s this castle that was built by Moors then taken over by the Catholics so you can see both influences really clearly. Also the acres of gardens are insane and will be even more beautiful in the summer when you’re there. P.S. I heard there’s a peacock somewhere in the garden although I never saw it myself…
There’s also a great market here (Mercado Lonja Del Barranco) and of course there’s a giant, gorgeous cathedral if you haven’t had your fill of that kind of thing already. Seville feels more “classically” Spanish in that everyone takes siesta (you never know when a place will be open/closed), also lots of authentic flamenco shows to go to.
So, that’s the lowdown!
The memories I have from this trip are truly irreplaceable. Totally worth a little frugal and meat-free eating if you ask me 😉
Here’s a few more pictures, because I can’t stop: