There's Something About Seville...
On the 26th of April 2018, I lost my city break virginity- it was wonderful, in fact much more so than I expected.
Despite being warned perilously of wrinkles and sun spots, like any true brit -if there’s sunshine outside, I am outside - don’t worry mum, I always wear SPF. With that in mind when I envision a holiday I imagine lying by a pool with a stack of books for at least week with little else on the itinerary. However, time is a luxury that many of us can’t afford in large swathes, so like many before us, my boyfriend and I looked into booking a long weekend. On his suggestion (and that of many others) Seville was our chosen destination and we were lucky enough to be able to take 4 nights and 5 days off work.
Where we stayed…
It will probably come as no shock that Airbnb was number one on our list. We chose a modestly priced apartment, that for all intents and purposes was not ‘instagrammable’ with the agreement that when on holiday- especially a city break- one should probably strive to spend more time exploring than taking gratuitous photos from the confines of a beautiful hotel/apartment. If you have a larger disposable income/don’t visit over a weekend, then obviously go somewhere more luxurious- but like goldilocks porridge, for us, it was just right.
It turned out that our apartment was super close to a Lidl and a gym, winning. I know to most people this might sound as though we are either entirely boring or just enjoy very shoddy architecture, but as people who love training (v cool I know), and my being a ‘lidlophile’/’adliophile’ it really was a bonus.
If that doesn’t turn you on (I don’t blame you), the area we stayed in (Casco Antiguo near Jardines Del Valle) did have other redeeming qualities. It is nestled amongst local restaurants which are ranked highly on trip advisor (and now by me- the extensive list of restaurants can be found later in this post), and it also means that you walk through the old town-esque streets rather than being slap bang in the tourist centre. If you are someone who likes staying active this is also a bonus, as we did 15k-20k steps on average each day, opting to walk everywhere rather than get public transport. The latter is an option which seems a bit redundant, as it means missing out on seeing most of the city which is lots of tiny narrow cobbled streets- many of them inaccessible to cars.
My top tip 100% is to walk. Some people opted to go on a horse and carriage yet we were advised by our airbnb host that it is supremely overpriced- not to mention I felt pretty sorry for the horses.
Much to my delight we had a balcony which acted as a suntrap for when we took full steed of the ‘when in Rome’ mantra and came back home for an afternoon siesta, so we were able to bask in the sun. The only downside being my Irish heritage meaning I didn’t actually get that tanned- Matt however, did. This made me look paler-and if there’s one thing I hate, it’s being pale, irrespective of whether it’s by proxy of my browner boyfriend- anyway I digress.
Where we ate…
This portion of the blog is undoubtedly the most important so I will forgive you if it is all you read. For starters (pardon the pun), if you are visiting Seville, I highly recommend you do so with the intention of eating rich and delicious foods- being on a diet in Seville is not something I would advise. Secondly, whilst I eat a largely plant based diet at home, the local cuisine is predominantly tapas and as I was sharing with my non-vegan boyfriend- I took a sabbatical from the plants. In fact, we scarcely ate any vegetables at all, which admittedly would normally stress me out- but when the wine is that good you don’t even notice.
(This is also where Lidl comes in, the restaurants we ate at were all incredibly reasonable in terms of price, however on two of the days we opted to make breakfast ourselves post workout. (my classic egg & avo combo- if you know you know). We also stocked up on the local beer Cruzcampo and some red wine of course).
At each restaurant we opted for tapas rather than 'a la carte', usually choosing 5-10 dishes between us. This was always sufficient as they also give you olives/bread/breadsticks. We would order three at a time and then look at the menu again or re-order a particular favourite. I have copied my favourites as they are shown on the menu.
My top 5 restaurants...
This was the first restaurant we went to, and were extremely lucky to get a table- you can make reservations but the weekend books up quickly. If you are eating tapas they can pop you on a wait-list as there are tables outside/by the bar, as well as the restaurant area which is usually reserved for bookings/a la carte. We thought we might as well wait and have a glass of wine- it turns out any Vino Tinto (red wine) in Seville is delicious and at €2.5-€4 per glass (pretty much being standard across the board), you can try a few different ones rather than opting for a bottle- unless you absolutely love it of course. Each dish was so delicious and a great introduction to the local cuisine and I couldn't reccommend this place more! I'll give you my top three plates (prices shown/dish);
Un cigarro para Becquer (Cigar-shaped brick pastry with cuttlefish & algae) €3.10
Costilla de cerdo con miel de romero al horno (Roasted Pork ribs glazed in rosemary honey- we ordered this twice) €3.10
Yema sobre bizcocho de boletus y vino caramelizado (Slow-cooked egg served on boletus-cake with caramelised wine reduction) €3.10
Once again incredible food for a very reasonable price- no hyperbole it was incredible. You can't make reservations here so I would suggest arriving a little earlier (by Spanish standards) perhaps around 8.30-9pm to avoid missing out. Top three;
Poached egg, wild mushrooms & a PX sweet-wine reduction & bacon €2.90
Goats cheese, celery puree (Personally I wouldn't usually choose this but it was fab) €2.90
Morillo Tuna Iron (grilled tuna neck- sounds weird, tastes great) €3.20
The oldest tapas bar in Seville dating back to 1670 which also happened to be a 5 minute walk from our apartment. The staff were extremely friendly (in fact that was true everywhere, although I do think it helped that I speak Spanish), and it is gorgeously rustic. We came here a few times for a beer/wine when coming to or from sightseeing and had a few tapas dishes one afternoon by the bar just to fill a whole. Pretty much anywhere in Seville you can't go wrong with pork cheeks and El Rinconcillo was no exception. We also may or may not have had a cheesecake and a chocolate dessert late one evening on our way home after quite a lot of wine. This place is always super busy and the one time we tried to go for dinner were unable to get a table, but from the little bits we did have it was delicious and again pretty cheap!
This was one of my favourite dinners, not necessarily because of the food but more because of the waiter, the wine and the rustic-ness of the place. That being said I loved them all so perhaps it was just the evening itself that I particularly loved. Would recommend booking as again it's quite a small place! The food here probably stands out to be more different that the others, with more basic/classic cheeses/meats. Top three;
Spicy chorizo with 'Cabrales' cheese (this is a small sandwich which you can also find in other eateries around Seville- really great for a snack or lunch dish we had this by the bar as we waited for our table) €1.70
Range of delicatessens and cheese €6/person
Bacon, Prawn and Potato with sauce on a skewer (I can't find this one on the menu but it was fab)
Our last dinner of the trip and a great one to finish- slightly more pricey but well worth it. You can't make dinner/weekend reservations here and we tried to get a table each night to no avail, so on our last evening we arrived when it opened at 8.30pm and got a seat at the bar for tapas. The restaurant itself looked a bit more slick and expensive and the food was beautifully presented (as well as tasting great) so the price was completely justified (albeit still not expensive). Top three;
Rice paper triangles stuffed with cheese, prawns & leeks (Initially we didn't choose this but as something else wasn't available we thought we would give it a go- and so glad that we did, it was unreal) €4.75
Cod confit, black trumpets & potatoes with sobrasada (Can't remember/not sure what the trumpet bit was but sobrasada is spicy sausage) €6.50
Iberian marinated pork ribs with mashed potatoes & sweet potatoes €5
What we saw...
Seville is a relatively small city and you could definitely get most of it done in a few days, however it was so nice to have a bit more leisurely time to chill, read and eat in more places.
Casa de Pilatos
'It is also known as the Palacio de los Adelantados Mayores de Andalucía (Palace of the Governors of Andalusia)'. This beautiful 16th century house is well worth a visit, you can visit the ground floor for €8 without a guide, or do a full guided tour for €10. If you wish to do the latter make sure to check times, we just wandered in and the next tour wasn't for an hour so decided to only to the ground floor- this was still absolutely gorgeous.
What looks like a large mushroom structure, is actually a fantastic viewpoint that is perfect to visit late at night to look out onto the city. For only €3 you can go straight to the top and also receive a complimentary drink (we missed out on that bit as we arrived about 10 minutes before it shut but it was still a must).
The royal palace is incredible, especially its gardens which feature multiple rose beds of the largest, most sumptuous, smelliest (in a good way) roses you will ever see (imagine beauty and the beast) in every colour imaginable. It is extremely touristy and despite getting there at 10am we ended up queuing for the best part of an hour, so I would suggest getting there at 9.25am to be safe. (Also featured in Game of Thrones- I think I am one of the only people who doesn't watch it).
Plaza de España
We didn't actually venture inside but walking around the outside is just as beautiful and also leads you to our next destination...
Parque de Maria Luisa
I was totally overwhelmed by the beauty of this park, with so many different trees and topiary. It is vast and has quaint tiled ponds and statues as well as patches of green lawn to sprawl yourself on with a good book. Definitely a must if you want to relax and get some vitamin D.
Catedral de Sevilla
Once again there is the option for a guided tour, however we just popped our heads in the free entrance. There are beautiful stain glass windows and it is vast and impressive, if I went again I would perhaps have a proper look around.
Overall I loved Seville, in fact I would go so far as to say it is one of my most favourite cities... below I have attached some pictures from our mini adventure. I really hope you enjoyed this blog and that I can take you away with me again some time soon.