It´s Friday night, you´ve dumped your bag at your hotel or AirBnB apartment of choice and now what? Your guidebook, which incidentally hasn´t been updated in about 10 years, shows a bewildering array of the best tapas bars in town or must see Flamenco shows. But really, do you want to be rubbing shoulders with every other Tom, Dick or Hans in town? If you´re anything like me, you´d rather merge seamlessly into the local crowd, or at least not stick out like a fold-out map wielding, slightly sun burned, sore thumb. So with this in mind, here´s my capsule 48 hours itinerary which will guarantee you the best weekend of your life.
|Dessert at Brunilda
8.30pm: There´s one time when being a ´Guiri´ or foreigner is something of an advantage in Seville and that is in the instance of feeling peckish at a sensible hour. Rather than holding out until the locals finally decide to chow down, why not head off early to one of the city´s swathe of affordable yet envelope pushing eateries such as Eslava, ConTenedor, La Azotea, La Brunilda or Perro Viejo, where your only chance of getting a table is doing it on northern European time.
10pm: Ok, tasty food done, now it´s time for some entertainment. Alongside Jerez, Seville is a mecca to Flamenco enthusiasts. I´m no expert, but given a choice, I´ll always rather see some flamenco in a peña, which is basically a social club for Flamenco aficionados. Compared to a few years ago, the peñas are fewer on the ground, as many have been closed down after noise complaints from neighbours, but one that continues to shine brightly is The Niño de la Alfalfa on Calle Castellar which has shows on Friday and Saturday nights from 10pm. Get there a bit early as if there´s a known artist performing it can fill up pretty sharply and leave you straining to see at the back.
|Roof top bar the Hotel Inglaterra
12pm: If you´re a flamenco nut, you might want to stay put all night at the Flamenco Peña where the real fun starts after the show, otherwise why not take yourself off to one of the city´s many roof top bars dotting the city. Personally, I´m not a fan of the EME which is constantly rolled out as the Azotea (roof top) bar of choice, all style over content in my books, but you could try the neighbouring Doña Maria Hotel, Hotel Inglaterra, Hotel Fontecruz or the Terraza Puerta Catedral, which while petite and bijoux boasts weekend concerts and DJs. And for close proximity to the Alameda try Hotel Espacio Azahar, or Roof, the terrace bar at the Casa Romana Hotel. Be warned, drinks tend to be on the pricey side.
Ok, you´re on holiday, it´s Spain, so there´s no rush to get up at the crack of dawn. Weekends in Seville are about moving slowly between various eating and drinking opportunities, breakfast being the first and my own personal favourite.
10ish: La Cacharreria on Calle Regina is undoubtedly THE breakfast place in town. Tiny, bare bricked, with beaming, yoga practising staff, this features in all the fashionable go-to guides for Seville due to its uniquely delicious brunch style offerings, ranging from the home made seeded bread and jam, the health busting juices, coffee that doesn´t take the roof of your mouth off, home made cakes to die for and a giant bowl of fruit, yogurt and muesli that will keep you going until dinner. It is small and outside space is minimal, but even if you´re propped up at the bar, it´s still worth it.
After breakfast, you´re perfectly positioned for some shopping on Seville´s of the moment street Calle Regina recently rebranded Regina Market. If you´re a foodie you can stock up on Spanish delicassies at Botellas y Latas where ex-Chef Carlos is happy to give you cooking tips, fashionistas can head to Verde Moscu and La Seta Coqueta, art lovers to Un Gato en Bicicleta and if you´ve forgotten your favourite organic beauty products, try Bien y Bio.
At the top of Calle Regina, you´ll find yourself in Plaza Encarnación, once a non-descript part of town, but now host to Seville´s controversial, modern architecture talking point The Setas. Setas mean wild mushrooms in Spanish and from afar as they span either side of the plaza, they do resemble some sort of mushroom/waffle hybrid. The Setas hold 3 ´experiences´ within their structure. Underneath you can find the Antiquarium housing the ancient Roman remains unearthed when building began, on the ground level there´s the traditional food market and then crane your neck upwards and you´ll see the undulating walkway that boast some of the best views of the city. It costs a very affordable 3 Euros to go up and in true Seville style, you can stop for a beer at one of the terrace bars at the top.
1pm: If you want to get a true picture of Seville weekend life then head to Plaza Salvador anytime beteen 12.30 and 3pm. The fairly inoquous square, once only known for its historic 17th century church, is transformed into decibel bursting, hive of cerveza quaffing activity, as Sevillanos gather en masse to talk extremely loudly, show off and eat fried fish. The only drinks available are sold from the narrow, spit and sawdust bars at one end, so be prepared for jostling and beefing up your bar presence in order to get served.
1.30pm: If you´re new to Seville you probably won´t last more than an hour in Plaza Salvador, in which case it´s chance to take advantage once again of ´Guiri´ eating hours and head to Ovejas Negras near the Cathedral, which starts serving lunch from 1.30pm. Juanma and his gang head up a cool, new breed of fusion tapas eateries proliferating the city, injecting both style and taste at affordable prices. Get there early before hordes arrive.
4pm SIESTA – your body will give you no other option but to indulge in this very sensible southern European afternoon ritual.
8pm: On a Saturday night, it´s got to be the Alameda de Hercules
to the north of the historic part of the city. Once only frequented by
drug users, pimps and prostitutes, it´s now the Boho, going out
hotspot in Seville. Start the evening by getting your bearings and go
for a stroll around the tree lined avenue where there are a whole host
of bars to hang out in and people watch. Some of the best tapas bars can
be found at the Calle Calatrava end, with my favourite being Duo Tapas, both for its reliably delicious dishes and the buzzing canteen atmosphere inside and perfectly positioned terraza outside.
I love the desserts at Duo Tapas, but you could always work off your
straining waistlines by strolling over to hip, artisan, ice cream hangout Freskura and indulge in one of their handmade italian gelatis. If you happen to be here in June or July don´t miss their fresh fig flavour. Who knew ice cream could be delicious and seasonal?
Midnight: From the witching hour onwards the Alameda comes into its own and is awash with drinkers, yoof strumming flamenco guitars, dogs hanging out and sniffing each other´s behinds and lots of cerveza fuelled excitement. Just opposite Freskura is Cafe Sonoro, which I´ve been reliably informed has the best selection of quality spirits in town and tends to attract a loyal over 30 crowd. If you want to see and be seen then primely positioned Cafe Central or Corral de Esquivel can´t be beaten, just don´t go expecting cutting edge music or the like: in Seville socialising is just that, talking, more talking, drinking beer and then some more talking. But if you find yourself in need of a nightclub then stumble a few paces along nearby Calle Relator and you´ll find Munich, the nearest club in the vicinity.
|classic breakfast: tostada con tomate y aceite
Any time until 2pm: If you can face the Alameda again by day, then for me this is my favourite place for a leisurely, traditional breakfast. Piola and Cafe Hercules offer the tostada and coffee classic to well after midday. And there´s no where I´d rather be on a sun-soaked Sunday morning, then sitting outside a café on the Alameda.
And then my dear friends, it´s up to you to get all touristy. For the picture postcard Seville experience you could get lost wandering around the narrow streets of barrio Santa Cruz, once the jewish quarter, or cross over to working class district Triana, walking along Calle Betis or Paseo de la O to see the weekend artisan market . Then of course there´s the Cathedral and the Giralda Tower, the Alcázar Palace and gardens and the Torre del Oro or Golden Tower. And that´s without even mentioning Plaza de España and Parque Maria Luisa. So if you haven´t exhausted yourself from all that eating and drinking, knock yourself out on a final dose of history, before crawling once more onto the airport bus and your return flight back to a your comparatively humdrum normality.