You might remember when we left Málaga last summer. We belly-crawled like Navy SEALs out of our hotel in the middle of the night and shared the back of a pickup with live chickens as we hitchhiked our way to Seville. Whatever it took to escape to a place more fitting before the clock struck midnight on Cope’s 40th birthday. Plus, traveling is all about teaching the kids flexibility, life skills, and hand-to-hand combat. Sometimes you’ve gotta walk the walk.
And that — well, something like that — is how we arrived in Seville in August. Seville, the “frying pan of Andalusia,” where everyone knows that everything closes in August.
We loved it, thanks. We’re off-season folks at heart in so many ways, including the actual way. And traveling is all about teaching the kids how swimming in the clear waters of the great wide world helps us see ourselves with clarity. Off-season and proud. Off-season and aware.
Of course, the swimming was purely metaphorical, as Seville is landlocked and surprisingly devoid of public pools for a place that averages 97 degrees at certain times of year that shall not be named.
We balanced the self-discovery with several truckloads of ice cream. Traveling is all about stuffing the kids with ice cream.
There’s Cope making 40 look like it ain’t no thing on the roof deck of the airbnb we rented in the old town (Casco Antiguo) — the one with the “please eat the grapes” and the rad modern layout and the attentive decor that all cost half of what you’d pay for a decent dinner for two in New York. It couldn’t have been more reasonable. Unfortunately we learned from our hosts that unemployment in the region, particularly for women our age, is so high I blacked out the percentage: 70%? 80%? We thought we detected subtle signs of scrimping: people drinking more Coke than cerveza, people sharing entrees, but not in that fun tapas way. Beyond that, it was hard to separate the quiet of August from the quiet of scarcity. Even in tough times, though, Seville can’t help but shine. I mean, just look at it.
Here’s the Metropol Parasol at the Plaza de la Encarnación. This is what a shopping center looks like in Seville. Oh, and by the way, underneath the shops are some preserved Roman remains for your perusal. I mean, it’s a toss-up whether to prefer that or the parking deck under your average New Jersey mall, so I’ll leave it to you.
Oh, this old thing? This is what a church looks like in Seville. The Seville Cathedral is the largest cathedral in the world and one of the most ornate I’ve seen. Some of us were impressed.
Some of us a little less so.
Her Cathedrals Dragged To : Years of Life ratio is maybe a little high.
And here’s Alcázar, a UNESCO world heritage site along with the cathedral. It’s the oldest royal palace in Europe that is still in use as a residence for a royal family. It’s a stunning example of Mudéjar architecture. Although I’m sure you know what that means, I’ll say for my own sake that it is “a partly Gothic, partly Islamic style of architecture and art prevalent in Spain in the 12th to 15th centuries.” Obviously.
We loved that even though it’s super-fancy, there’s also a hedge maze. Boo! And lots of sweet, sweet shade, only some of which was provided by our own very stylish hats.
In a city like Seville, it’s not just the officially recognized world treasures that make you want to commune with the architecture. It’s everything. The residential buildings. The markets. The graffiti. And the churros. (Naturally the churros. What are we, robots?)
A few of our favorite spots:
Feria Food Market, pictured above with the dudes outside: Seville’s oldest market. Much of it was closed while we were there, but there’s tapas, fresh fish, flowers, you name it.
Churreria La Esperanza, pictured above with the giant paper cone of churros: Calle Feria, 108. There are lots of places to get churros and chocolate in Seville. This one was recommended by our hosts.
Plaza of the Alameda de Hercules, not pictured, because I’m even less organized than I look. Great place to walk around or sit at one of the many restaurants to have a drink and tapas. Local kids play in the square late into the night while parents smoke and drink, as only Spain can make normal.
Although even I wouldn’t listen to me about “normal.” Send your off-season questions this way instead. Talk to you soon.