After two nights exploring Cordoba (read about it here) we were headed to Seville for four nights. There are so many trains each day from Cordoba to Seville that I did not bother to buy train tickets in advance. We went on the 11:44am train and arrived in Seville about 12:30pm and took a taxi to Hotel Amadeus. This hotel is on a tiny narrow street in the Santa Cruz barrio (the Jewish Quarter) with great small streets and beautiful plazas, located not far from the cathedral.
We had a superior double that had a nice terrace in a small interior courtyard. The room sort of had two separate spaces so Lauren had a small pull out couch as her bed (twin) in the small entry room. This did not leave a lot of room for luggage, but we managed fine. The hotel has a nice rooftop terrace with couches, tables, chairs, sun loungers, small Jacuzzi and bar service. This is a nice enough hotel but we started with two problems. First, the refrigerator was not cold and second, the drain in the bathroom shower was so plugged up that when you took a shower the entire bathroom was soaked, and water even started to go into the bedroom hallway.
First, with the refrigerator. It was hot when we arrived and Stephen wanted some water. He opened the refrigerator and there were several bottles of water, but they were all warm. He went out to the front desk to ask for cold water and they said it was in the refrigerator. He explained that it was not working so they said they would bring some cold water to him and someone to look at the refrigerator. No one ever came to bring cold water nor to come look at the refrigerator. Stephen did discover that the refrigerator was just unplugged, so he plugged it back in, but they never asked about it.
Then, the next morning I was the first to take a shower. I could tell while I was in there that there was going to be a big problem. When I got out of shower, I put on some clothes and went out to the front desk to explain and ask for LOTS of towels. She said let us know when you are done and they would have someone come take a look. I said, I can not do anymore to get ready until I have A LOT of towels to clean this up and two more of us still need to take a shower. She got the message and someone came quickly with tons of towels. Stephen and Lauren took showers by only running the water for a short time. I will say they did come and fix the shower and we did not have any more problems with it.
Back to our arrival day in Seville. After we settled in we walked over to Plaza de san Francisco and had lunch at Albarama (Plaza de SanFrancisco, 5), where we had delicious tapas, particularly the risotto with shrimp – excellent creamy risotto.
Stephen went back to hotel to rest and Lauren and I set out for Tetuan St. one of the main pedestrian shopping streets. Stephen was not feeling well so Lauren and I had dinner at Vineria San Telmo. It was so warm that we were able to sit outside, even for dinner. Our favorite tapas was the creamy bulghur wheat dish but did also enjoy Argentinian steak, spaghetti with squid ink, salmorejo (it was good but the one at Tabernas Salinas in Cordoba was better), and housemade foie.
Today I had booked a half day tour with Marta Cassis. She was highly recommended on Trip Advisor. (http://www.toursevilla.com/en/). Stephen still was not feeling well so Lauren and I just went. The hotel breakfast was 8,50 euro and did not include meat or cereal, basically just cheese and pastries, so we decided to find something elsewhere. We stopped at El Toro Toro for churros for breakfast, quite a treat!
After our churros breakfast we met Marta at our hotel at 10am. She was extremely knowledgeable and very nice and we both felt as though we had learned a lot. I was sorry Stephen missed this. We started out just meandering through the Jewish Quarter and Marta would stop and show us things and tell us different stories. My favorite was the Three Crosses Plaza – a small plaza with three beautiful crosses in the middle.
We also enjoyed peaking through the rod iron gates to see the beautiful interior courtyard gardens. Most homeowners would leave the heavy wooden doors open, and just have the rod iron gates so passersby could enjoy the gardens.
Our first major stop was the Alcazar. Very beautiful, and I have to agree with the person I read who said that it was more beautiful than the Alhambra because of the brighter colored tiles. It is much different than the Alhambra as it is smaller and built/designed by a Muslim for a Christian king
The gardens were also beautiful.
Then she took us through the Cathedral and again we learned a lot of history and interesting stories.
We said goodbye to Marta after this and headed to lunch at La Azotea (Zaragoza, 5). Again we had tapas – grilled octopus, steak tartar and another dish I can not remember. This was a more modern place then some of the others we had gone to. Charming service, but also a bit more expensive.
After lunch Lauren and I did a bit more shopping and then headed back to the hotel to rest. Along our way we found a lot of flamenco dresses to buy as well as some very expensive looking clothes for children’s first communion.
Stephen was feeling a bit better now so he joined us for dinner at PaCatar (Javier Lasso de la Vega, 1) a little bit of a walk but so beautiful out it was not a problem. We enjoyed an artichoke dish recommended by our waiter, vegetable raviolis, a salmon and pork dish and this delicious dessert called Galletas Maria. Our waiter, again recommended it to us, though he had difficulty describing it as he kept telling us it had broken biscuits in it – he finally said just trust me and we did! Once we ate it, we realized we were thinking breakfast biscuits or biscuits and gravy, but he really meant cookies or crackers. It was delicious, sort of like a budino with crushed cookies in it.
Today we had breakfast at a large restaurant right across from the cathedral. Can not remember the name, the service came with a bit of an attitude, but we were able to get eggs for breakfast!
We decided to walk across Triana bridge to Triana and see the pottery places. I had read this was a good place to buy pottery. This is more of a working class neighborhood which was nice, but I was not really impressed with the pottery. Most places seemed to be carrying the same things. Although there was one shop that had some very interesting large pots. The neighborhood itself was very quiet. There was an interesting food market just to the right when you get off the bridge on St. Jorge St. The opening to the market is just a small door, but inside the market is quite large. We enjoyed walking through there.
From here we walked to the bullring. Odd, but actually kind of hard to find as three sides of it just look like a regular building. Look for the large statue of a woman on a horse along Paseo de Cristo – that is where the entrance is.
Every half an hour they give a 45 minute tour. We saw the bullring, the museum, chapel and an art gallery. The guide says things in Spanish and then repeats everything in English. We found this very interesting and informative and would highly recommend it. Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and able to answer everyone’s detailed questions.
For lunch we went to Bodeguita Antonio Romero (Calle Gamazo, 16), not far from the bullring. We had tortilla de camerones, albondigas with almonds, mixed salad with salmon and ham and cheese. The albondigas and tortilla de camarones were the best. Tortilla de camarones actually reminded us of the Vietnamese pancakes we had in Vietnam, only these were crisper.
At 7pm we had a reservation at Museo de flamenco for a flamenco show. Marta had actually recommended a different flamenco show, but it is in an uncovered patio, and it definitely seemed as though it might rain so we asked the hotel for a recommendation and they chose this one. In addition, to the show there is also a museum, but we did not go inside. We had the hotel call ahead to make our reservation. We arrived about 6:30pm and most of the seats were already taken. You probably need to arrive closer to 6:15 to assure a good seat. A small but beautiful venue with one singer, one guitarist and a male and female dancer. The show lasted about an hour and was quite good. I believe there is another show at 8:30pm.
We had a 9pm dinner reservation at Az-Zait at Plaza San Lorenzo, 1. A bit further out so we took a taxi. It was a nice dinner, this is a full service restaurant, not just a tapas bar. The service was excellent and even the chef came to serve courses. We ordered the 4-course tasting menu for 31,90 euro. We began with an amuse bouche of gin and tonic gelatinous balls with crackers. Our appetizer was pate that was in a sweet sauce – sometimes a bit too sweet, so would scrape off some of the sauce. Then we had a sorbet palate cleanser. Next, was a fish course that was delicious – cod? with wonderful soft vegetables. The meat course was a beef stroganoff – ok, but a bit of a disappointment for me because I am not a fan of stroganoff. For dessert, a delicious torta de caramel!
Breakfast was at El Toro. Right next door was a churreria where you could order churros and bring them to El Toro to eat and order additional food. We walked over to Metropol Parasol or the “giant mushrooms”. It is a large wooden structure in La Encarnacion Square, which from far away looks like giant mushrooms. Actually I thought more interesting to look at from a distance than close up. However, underneath was a beautiful market.
Last time out shopping and found this great jewelry store called Une de 50 (Calle Sierpes, 56). Everything is designed and handmade in Madrid – mostly all silver and there are only fifty copies made of each piece, thus the name. I found a great bracelet and necklace that I love!!
We had a 2pm reservation at Aire de Seville, the Arab baths. Before heading over there we got a quick bite to eat at a tapas bar on Fabiola right near our hotel. First off, I recommend you book at least a day in advance for the baths. It was located very close to our hotel so the day before we had gone over there to check out the services and make the reservations. We had wanted to include a 30 min. massage but were only able to get 15 minute massages. Basically, you are in the baths for 1.5 hours which includes your massage. There is a hot bath, a very hot bath, a cold bath, a Jacuzzi bath, a salt bath and a sauna room. They do a good job of limiting the reservations so things are not too crowded. It is a nice space that is dimly lit with candles and lanterns. Everyone is required to wear a bathing suit (apparently they have some to borrow if you did not bring one). I had read that this can be a makeout place for some people, but we did not run into this, but maybe because we were there in the mid afternoon. While the massage was a bit short at only 15 minutes we all enjoyed it, and found it a nice break from the baths. Just want to note, that they do not call you by name for the massage. They just call out “massage 15 minutes” in Spanish. Luckily Lauren finally figured out what they were saying and we were able to get up the next time they called. Massages are given in a room with several massage tables, but it was very quiet. They have showers, hair dryers, etc. there. Be sure and ask for a plastic bag to put your wet bathing suit in. It was a pleasant, relaxing way to spend some of the afternoon.
Afterwards, we just spent time relaxing on the hotel rooftop terrace until the sunset.
We decided to go back to Pa Catar for dinner. Arrived at 8:45pm and this time it was already busy. We had to sit at the bar. We had the same charming waiter and were able to order more tapas this time as Stephen was feeling much better.
Today, Lauren had to fly back to Los Angeles as her classes would be starting back up. She had a 7am flight Seville-Madrid-London-LA. She left the hotel at 5:15am and was sitting at the gate waiting for the plane by 5:50am. This was her first time traveling internationally alone, and everything went smoothly.
We slept in and went to one of the small bars for breakfast where we enjoyed crepes, omelette and fruit. We went back to the hotel to pack and check out. We left our luggage there and then went out one last time to enjoy Seville.
Since Stephen had been sick the day we went with Marta he had not been to the Alcazar or Cathedral. We first walked around the barrio Santa Cruz – I tried to follow the places that Marta had taken us, and I must admit I some how managed to get us to all the charming little plazas and repeat the interesting stories she had told. We went through the Alcazar and enjoyed walking through the gardens. Unlike me, Stephen preferred the Alhambra to the Alcazar. Then we were going to go to the cathedral but since it was Sunday it did not open until 2:30pm. It was 2:15 and there was an incredibly long line to get in and it was quite hot. We decided to skip it and go have a nice lunch. I was disappointed as I had really wanted to go back to the cathedral but, oh well.
We had lunch at La Cueva (Calle Rodrigo Caro, 18) located in a lovely plaza. We sat outside under some shady trees. We had two great dishes and two so-so dishes. The really good dishes were the clams in marinere sauce and the salmorejo. The not so good were the grilled gambas (not so fresh) and the iberico with melon (ham not so great). Also, they forgot to bring the appetizers – just brought the entrees so had to remind them to bring them afterward. However, it was an enjoyable leisurely lunch.
Went back to enjoy the rooftop terrace again before heading out to airport for our 7:25pm flight to Marseilles.