Sevilla: royal beauty, tapas & flamencoMay 5 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C
A three hour drive from the Algarve in Portugal brings us in Sevilla, Spain. A city I have visited with my sister Marleen eight years ago and loved so much, I looked forward to go back one day. Like with most bigger cities we have visited this trip there is only one campsite to stay at, this time located at a little town outside of Sevilla called “two sisters” in Spanish. The campsite is packed and the spots are small, made for people like us who just plan to stay long enough to see Sevilla and then leave. For this purpose, it does the job!
The bus we catch from the campsite to the city conveniently stops at one of the highlights of Sevilla: Plaza España in the gorgeous Maria Luisa park. Built in 1929 as part of the Iberco-American Exposition (wereldtentoonstelling), it was the largest and most expensive project. It still draws many admirers every day. Some come to explore in detail the highly symbolic architecture of the place, its shape and Andalusian tile art representing all Spanish provinces and other historical geographical areas of Spain. Others simply come to enjoy the sunshine. They relax at the fountain or on one of the many beautifully tiled benches, they romantically rent one of the rowing boats floating in the square’s canal, or they stroll around with a selfie stick at hand to catch themselves posing at every little corner - as all corners are just as beautiful. Meanwhile the sound of sweet Spanish guitar music fills the area. In the shade of one of the arches two elderly gentlemen share their talent hoping for some euros in return. We are only just starting our own experience at this attractive square when a single police officer is trying to block our way, clearly having some difficulty in achieving his task as he almost begs us in broken English: “you need to leave, please, no more” while the tourists divert around him in various directions. We ask him for the reason of his request and he replies: “heavy rain”, at which we wonder if he’s mixing up his English: the skies are clear blue and there’s not a single cloud in the sky. But, he doesn’t give in and repeats his plea. We have no choice but to leave both the plaza and park, as police is closing the whole place down.
Still enjoying the sunny weather we proceed to the city’s historical centre, walking around sightseeing and having ourselves some delicious tapas. We visit one of the palaces and enjoy some ice cream under the famous modern architectural Metropol Parasol, still wondering when the “heavy rain” is gonna come as meanwhile it’s late afternoon and the sky is still blue. Was it a bad weather prediction earlier in the day or some kind of code by the police to clear the touristy spot?
While we walk through the various neighbourhoods of Sevilla we are met by a lot of people dressed as if they are working at one of the (admittedly, many) flamenco dance theaters for tourists. At first we wonder if it’s just this in combination with tourists dressing up to enhance their holiday pictures, but after a while we conclude that it’s simply too many Spanish speaking people dressed up: young and old. That’s when we realise we find ourselves in Sevilla at the time of “Feria de Abril”, or “April Fair”, the annual highlight of the city. A bit of an odd name for a festival held in May, but that’s because it traditionally follows two weeks after Holy Week. Word goes that our king Willem-Alexander first met his now Queen Maxima at this festival, that’s characterised by socialising, drinking and dancing. As the day changes into evening we see more and more festive people all walking in a particular direction. While our feet are tired from walking the whole day our curiosity wins and we decide to follow the crowd.
After a few kilometer of growing anticipation we reach the apparently iconic arch of the festival area. This is where the flamenco style dresses, flower head pieces, and traditional suits come together to party. As the dresscode is somewhat holy we stand out from the crowd in our shorts. In front of us are more than 1000 red and white striped party tents lined up; all providing for food, drinks and a dance floor. Lanterns decorate the tents and streets, and live flamenco bands at different corners invite the party people to get up and move their feet. Rows of standing horses have formed along the sidewalks, offering a seat to their single or duo riders (gentlemen astride and ladies sidesaddle) while they enjoy a glass of “Rebujito”. This is a typical drink for Feria de Abril, with the fresh taste of lemon-lime, mint, lots of ice and depending on the taste: mixed with wine or sherry. Something we would have liked to try for ourselves, but because the tents are private (they are rented by families, groups of friends, political parties, business associations, etc.) we aren’t able to reach any bar. It doesn’t really matter though, as looking around at all that’s happening and all the beautiful looking people is entertainment enough. Crossing the street is a challenge: an endless parade of horse carriages is continuously ongoing so you have to be very careful about your timing. At the time we arrive it’s considered early and “quiet” although it’s pretty crowded in our opinion. Most people join later in the evening and then stay until the very late (or early) hours. To be honest, we do feel somewhat sorry for the horses that are made part of this festival. There isn’t much space for them to move around, it’s hot, and they look tired. Still they are much better off than the bulls that are literally fighting to their death every day during the party week - another ugly part of this festival that looks so impressive at the surface. Obviously we stay far away from any such practices as we are strongly against these traditions of animal torture. Anyway - aside from us feeling sorry for the animals the feria is surely an impressive sight. And guess what? Around 20:00 in the evening we finally see clouds appear and it actually does start to rain. Time to hide indoors, eat some more tapas and return to the campsite.
Our second day Sevilla consists of more sightseeing and walking through the city, with the Real Alcázar de Sevilla as the ultimate highlight. This palace and its gardens is breathtaking! Pictures can’t do this place justice but please do note in the attached odd illustrations shown on some of the tiles in this palace :-). We also use this second day to finish our visit to the Plaza España and Maria Luisa Park, without interruptions this time. Another great day in this fabulous city - I am sure it will be worth coming back again!Read more