An April 2002 trip
to Seville by Harry Potter
Quote: Sevilla was the perfect place to take a Spanish immersion course. For 3 weeks, I attended morning classes which allowed ample time to sightsee and experience Sevilla. Being there during Feria was an amazing highlight. The Spanish lifestyle is so intoxicating that it's extremely difficult to leave.
Basking in the relaxed atmosphere of the cafes and drinking cheap "tinto veranos" (similiar to sangria sans fruit)
Living in a residence with 10 other international students
Opening night of Feria
Multiple dining experiences at San Marcos
Choosing then eating delicious tapas
Enjoying class so much that even after spending all night in the disco, I didn't miss class
Befriend students and locals who can show you the good, fun and inexpensive ways to see and do things
Learn some Spanish especially names of foods and you'll find it easier to order at restaurants
This isn't Paris, don't be afraid to try and speak the native tongue, the locals will try to understand you (don't get me wrong, I love visiting Paris too - I just can't communicate there)
Some incidents of petty robberies were reported, so be alert with your things, especially near the canal and when walking down small, vacant streets
Cars and motorscooters own the road, and many of the streets are narrow, so be prepared to continually move out of their way
Buses are cheap and safe, but slow and sometimes overcrowded
Taxis are also plentiful
Restaurant | "San Marcos"
There are 3 different dining areas and although it is always busy, there is usually a table available for a party of 4 or less without much wait, however it is probably better to make reservations. Our dining experiences were always lengthy affairs as is the case for most diners there, though this isn't a reflection of the service which was professional and outstanding, but more a Spanish tradition. One time we dined until 1am and though they never mentioned they wanted to close, we realized we were the last ones there and exited shortly.
The ambience is upscale but comfortable and diners are fully relaxed and conversational. The bright magenta walls add to the character of the atmosphere. The cost of a gourmet meal here is very reasonable by American standards.
However the best feature of San Marcos (as it should be in a restaurant) is its fantastic cuisine. Pasta, fish, fowl and meat dishes abound along with several vegetable accompaniments. The appetizers are superb especially the carpaccio options and the salads (carpacio de salmon with black capers and the Gorgonzola salad were my favorites in these groups). I could have eaten there every night during my stay and still not have been able to try all the entrees. Fortunately each of my friends ordered different entrees and so we had ample opportunity to taste several different dishes. However, I was enraptured by the salmon au gratin over spinach with mushrooms and had to order it again. Another time, I enjoyed a big piece of beef fillet called solomillo de ternera which I requested be cooked crudo (rare) and it came out just how I like it. On one occasion, my friends enjoyed lamb, monkfish and lasagna. The lamb was tender, but had a strong taste and was accompanied by cous cous and mint. The monkfish was also tender and similar to grouper, but a stronger tasting fish. The lasagna was interesting with a sweet flavor to it.
Several choices of desserts and wines were also available. My favorite desserts contained chocolate mousse and were the Marquesa de Chocolate - a square of firm chocolate mousse wrapped with a sponge cake and the Blanco y Negro - a very sweet chocolate mousse with pastachio wrapped in whip cream with a spongy texture. We had excellent red wines and probably the best was a wine of the house for 9 Euros called Vina Fronda Rioja. As I write, I am craving again those exquisite dishes and fondly remembering all of my wonderful experiences there.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on July 22, 2002
San Marco Restaurant
Calle Mesón del Moro 6
Attraction | "Catedral"
General adult admission is 6 Euros though students pay only 1.50 Euros. The Catedral is open to the public 7 days a week but only in the afternoon on Sundays. Detailed floor plans, available in several languages, are helpful in making your way around this enormous edifice.
The inside of the Catedral is as impressive as the outside and includes several chapels. The side chapels contain statues and tombs, though several of these chapels are blocked off by iron screens. The main chapel with its profusion of gold is exquisite and resides across from the enormous choir area. The high altar is adorned with huge silver religious relics. There are several remarkable treasures in the interior of the Catedral and side rooms contain works of arts by the great masters. Another famous item inside the Catedral is a grand tomb held up high by four pallbearers and in which, is claimed to be Christopher Columbus' remains. Supposedly his remains traveled around quite a bit before finally settling here in the Catedral.
On the northeastern side of the Catedral, is the entrance to La Giralda, which can be ascended by walking up 34 gradual, spiraling ramps then a small stairway. The long, but nonstrenuous climb is worth it for the magnificent view of the city. Stopping to look out the gated window at floor 16 will give you a good glimpse of the Catedral architecture from just above it. At the top, you will see the large bells above you, then move from gated window to gated window to observe the different sites below and afar. After descending from the miniaret, emerge into the light by walking into the Patio de los Naranjos, (courtyard of orange trees) to spend the final part of your visit reflecting on this landmark's beauty and grandeur.
Cathedral Santa Maria de la Sede
Plaza del Triunfo, Avenida de la Constitucion
Attraction | "Torero - Bullfighting"
The bullfights in Sevilla take place at the renowned La Maestranza bullring in the Plaza de Toros. Built in 1760, La Maestranza is one of the oldest bullrings in Spain, and there is a 30 minute guided tour available of its stables and museum. The spectators at bullfights are very civilized and sit quietly, paying full respect to the sport being watched. It reminded me of the crowd at a tennis match or golf tournament. In fact, once a matador has taken the ring, people who are not in their seats must wait outside until the kill has occurred.
The bull is first let into the ring and confronted by a single matador who bravely remains in place, often on his knees, waving his cape to escape the initial charges of the bull. Soon the men with long spears/lances appear riding on horses. The horses wear blinders and are padded but are still at the mercy of a charging bull with horns. The men use their lances to stick the bull a few times, getting him to bleed and lose some strength and speed. At the same time, the junior matadors are distracting the bull. Then men appear with what look like juggling pins, except they are more like long darts. Poised with one of these weapons in each hand, these men run around the bull trying to position themselves to be able to stab the bull hard enough so that their weapons remain in his back. At this point the bull is often profusely bleeding and disoriented. Soon the main matador will step back in to finish the kill. The object is for the matador to score a direct hit so the bull keels over dying immediately. Sometimes the bull is still full of fight and a slight mistake by the matador can result in his being gored. I have attended 2 bullfights and in both of them I saw matadors get gored. Once the bull is dead, a team of horses ride in to drag the bull from the field. Depending on how expertly the matador performed the kill, the judges may reward the matador with one ear, two ears or the ultimate, 2 ears and the tail.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on July 22, 2002
Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza
Attraction | "Feria"
Since we were foreigners without connections to enter the private casetas, we meandered down the street to find a public caseta. In the public casetas, locals also danced the Sevilliana, ate, drank and talked. Food and drink was served from a bar in the back at cheap prices.
The Feria also hosts an amusement park, called the Calle de Infierno, translated as Street of Hell and its rides were among the most thrilling I have experienced. Tickets for each ride are purchased just outside the ride for varying amounts depending on the level of the ride but generally range from 2-5 Euros per ride. Some of the most fantastic rides were the Caida Libre (Freefall) - a ride similiar to the Stratosphere in Las Vegas, the Bomber - like a salt and pepper shaker, the Scrambler and the most amazing ride of all for a whopping 10 Euros each - the 2 seater bungy ball. None of the rides had more than a few minutes wait and seemed perfectly secure with lots of seatbelts and harnesses.
The Feria is not just a night time event though. It actually has 2 distinct atmospheres and during the day from 3pm - 8pm the parade of horses takes place. Women are decked out in the traditional Sevilliana dresses both day and night. At about 10pm the streets are lit by orange and white lanterns and the partying continues each night until the wee hours of the morning. This week long grand festival is enough to wear out even the most endurable of party goers.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on August 21, 2002
Feria de Abril
Patronato Provincial de Turismo
Sevilla, Spain 41001
+34 95 4211091
New York, New York