I was really looking for an opportune time to go to Sevilla. Initially I had it slated for August for when my friends from Singapore come to visit but after learning from the Spanish that the temperature in the whole of Andalucia (Sevilla is its capital) reaches 40 degrees in summer (July-Aug), that had me backing away from the plan. As a result, I wanted to go during spring. Spending Semana Santa there (as mentioned in a previous post) was an option that didn’t materialize because lodgings were fully booked. Thanks to Google I stumbled upon the Feria de Abril celebration which takes place 2 weeks after Semana Santa.
Sevilla, which was right next to Córdoba, was the second leg of our Labor Day long weekend trip. 28 April, Saturday, we took the 3pm train bound for Sevilla and we arrived in 45minutes. We were able to witness the last two days of the feria, which for me is one of the most (if not the most) colorful of fiestas in entire Spain. Those in disagreement check these photos out.
She’s really pretty this one. Elegant-looking too.
If the nicely dressed women in their full regalia of flamenco dresses were colorful enough, the festivities were equally vibrant. The celebration is situated in this vast lot in the Barrio de los Remedios where they put up individual stalls, the casetas.
Some have begun dancing outside the casetas.
The caseta is the heart of the feria. It’s where music, dancing, singing, eating and drinking all take place. Not to mention the lively conversations. These casetas are private and one could only get in by invitation. There are a couple of public ones too.
After spending the whole afternoon in the feria, we took the bus going back to our hostel. While fixing my stuff, something echoed in my mind – the words of the ticketing agent. We bought our train tickets bound for Madrid earlier that day upon arriving in Sevilla. I told him we wanted a ticket for Madrid leaving on Martes. The exact words that echoed on my mind was when he replied: dos de Mayo. The 2nd of May is Wednesday and not Tuesday! I quickly grabbed our tickets and to my horror we indeed have the wrong return date. We had to leave by Tuesday by hook or by crook because we already have classes on Wednesday.
Good thing our hostel was an eight-minute walk from the Santa Justa train station. It was 9pm. We quickly went to customer service for our problem and where we were told there’s no charge for changing the time but for changing the date, there is 10% additional charge. Oh my! We didn’t want to pay extra. He said we can go to the agent who sold us the ticket. By this time I was actually gearing up for battle mode and rehearsing my Spanish so I could be understood clearly. Good thing the agent was still there! I explained that he gave us the wrong date because I clearly said we wanted tickets for Martes. We were able to change our tickets with no issue. Whew! Lesson learned: always double check the date and time of tickets. When we were purchasing it we got preoccupied mainly with the time of arrival in Madrid as it has to coincide with the bus leaving for Pamplona that we forgot to check the date! ¡Qué barbaridad!
The following day we passed by the Cathedral first before going to the feria. As it was Sunday, we heard mass and afterwards hiked it all the way to the feria. The walk was quite long, it took us 20 minutes but a pleasant surprise came out of it. As we were making our way to the feria we saw a group of tourists entering a building. Just out of curiosity we followed them. I was thinking it must be a historic building or a museum. Once we have stepped inside, it actually opens up to an open space of several castle-looking edifices with a fountain in front and the most majestic textile embellishments on mini bridges and stairs. We just found ourselves in Plaza de España!
Back to entering the arch leading to the feria. There’s a yearly arch design contest and the winner, of course, gets to see his design come to life.
What would be a feria without the ferris wheel and other rides? They’re all situated on the far right in the street called calle de infiernos.
We were doing our last round of walks for the last night of the feria when a Chinese guy approached us, started talking to us in Spanish and invited us to a private caseta.
We had the most sinful of all tapas I’ve had so far, carchulitos de devilitos. I had a feeling it’s not available anywhere else and might be a specialty of the caseta we were able to get into. It’s ground pork with chicken with a salty and slightly peppery taste. There was a bit of a creamy texture to it. Couldn’t tell if it’s cheese but it’s so divine I swear it makes a good pulutan hahaha!
We were also wanting to try manzanilla, a clear wine produced from that region but since my casera told me to be take caution when drinking it (I had a feeling it’s really strong), I decided to have its friendlier version. So for drinks we had rebujito which is manzanilla mixed with Sprite, 7up or any soft drink with lemon flavor. It was very refreshing.
This unexpected invitation to a caseta is the cherry on top of our feria experience. 😉
The next two days we were back to sightseeing mode to check out the touristic spots of Sevilla. We queued up for La Giralda – the Cathedral’s equally famous bell tower it even has its own name.
There were lots of bells in the tower and provided an overview of the town.
Back down just a stone’s throw away, we next queued for Real Alcázar de Sevilla. It is a fortress composed of palaces, several gardens as well as halls and rooms for government functions.
Moorish influence as seen in the textiles of the stairs and hexagonal pattern of this fountain which I really love by the way. The complex is actually a mix of Moorish, Múdejar and Baroque style which was a result on the shift of power from the Muslims to the Catholic Kings.
The Cathedral of Sevilla along with the Real Alcázar and the Archivo de Indias, all situated near each other are UNESCO World Heritage sites. The latter kept archives of all Spanish conquests of the Americas and Filipinas.
They have an old map of the Philippines. Cavite was spelled with a B instead of V.
Torre de Oro situated by the Guadalquivir river is the point of embarcation of Spanish expeditions. It is dodecagonal in shape and received its name, Tower of Gold, because it gives off a golden glimmer under sunshine. Once it also served as a prison during the changing hands of Spanish history in the middle ages and is now a museum filled with paraphernalia of the Spanish fleet.
In all of the four afternoons we were in Sevilla, we always had churros for merienda. It served as our break from all the walking we were doing all day. Yummy!
Tuesday morning we still had time for breakfast. I had a typical Spanish breakfast of jamón con tomate. In Spain, it’s never to early for jamón. 😉
And then a last look at the Cathedral. An idea popped up to do a jump shot.
And then we ran the run of our lives back to the hostel. We were walking so leisurely on our way back that when we did a time check it was already 10:30 AM. Our train leaves at 10:45! We quickly grabbed out luggage and closed the room forgetting the key inside. But the door once shut cannot be opened from the outside. We went down and explained what happened to the hostel keeper. He just asked us if the remote control is in the room, we replied yes and he said no problem and off we go with our flying luggage.
With that said we made it to the train platforms by 10:42. I don’t know but it’s really funny how we almost didn’t make it to all the transportation transfers that day. At the Atocha train station in Madrid we still had to take the metro (or mrt) going to the Barajas Airport Terminal 4 where the buses leaving for Pamplona are. Well, the metro, which was undergoing some repairs I guess, had this annoying system where they flash on the screen which platform you should go into. It showed us the last minute which platform to go and we only had 2 minutes to reach it. I thought I was gonna collapse. We had to make a dash down to the trains but the thing is once you’ve gone down, you still have to go up two flights of stairs to reach the actual platform! I felt as if we were in Amazing Race!
We have planned to take our lunch in the airport but thanks to the crappy metro system we arrived there at 2:55PM and our bus leaves at 3:15. We still queued in McDonalds and when I did a time check, it was already 3:10 so with my unfinished fries and 7Up, we ran to where the buses are. They were a bit disorganized in there as passengers could not pinpoint exactly where their buses are. We had to ask three bus drivers to know if theirs is the bus leaving for Pamplona. The third one was able to direct us to our bus which, fortunately, hasn’t left yet. Inside the bus I checked the time and it was 3: 24, the bus was behind schedule. But really imagine we had to run all through these transfers!
We were back in Pamplona by 8:15. Happy to be back in the North with memories of the South. 🙂