“My Unapologetic Love Affair” – Sevilla, Spain

24 06 2014

Day 6 – 10
June 20 – 24, 2014

At this very moment I am sitting on the bed of our hotel, waiting for f to finish packing; we are leaving Sevilla and headed for Cordoba. While I am excited to see the next city, I am truly saddened to leave Sevilla. From the moment we arrived here, I fell in love; so much so that I didn’t even have a moment to blog! I was too busy breathing in the culture and beauty of this place that I didn’t want to leave her for a moment. The streets are filled with the colourful buildings, full of character and charm. People are friendly and the air smells like fresh baked bread with a pinch of sugar. How can anyone not fall in love with Sevilla.
Rather than break down everyday, I will give you the highlights and the essence of these last few days. Of course we did all of the sightseeing that one should when on foreign soil. Our hotel actually provided us with a free walking tour, held by ‘feel the city tours’ which was fantastic. Our tour guide was named Mara and she really did feel the city! We saw the cathedral (largest gothic cathedral in the world, and 3rd largest overall), the Giralda tower, plaza del Toro, Real Alcazar, University of Sevilla and a bunch of others… all beautiful and filled with so much history. The tour was awesome because we really did learn so much. We learned that when Catholics took over, they made all of the gypsies, Jews and Muslims leave the city or convert to Catholicism. After a while, even the converted had to leave Sevilla because they weren’t ‘pure blood’ Catholics. These four different religions were all sent across the river to Triana. Triana is also the city were Flamenco was born… a form of dance created to express the devastated emotion of the forgotten people. Ohhh check out Plaza De Espana if you can. It is gorgeous!! It was used as Queen Amidala’s palace in Star Wars! I could go on about all of this, but google probably knows more. Fascinating stuff though isn’t it?
When we weren’t sight-seeing, we were sitting on a patio, doing our most favourite thing… eating and day-time drinking. I have definitely had my fill of sangria and cava over these last few days. It has been wonderful!! These really have been our most memorable and enjoyable moments. I don’t even know how much weight I’ve gained in this short time, but I’m telling myself that each 1/2pound is a testament to the enjoyment I’ve been experiencing! My belly is chalk full of churros&chocolate, alcohol, cheese & bread (which sevillans love by the way) and of course… gelato!! While I am sitting here typing this, I am realizing what made these moments so rich and intoxicating. When all of your senses are being so positively stimulated, it is a high like no other and there is no reason you would ever want it to end.
I love that it’s world cup season right now because pretty much every single restaurant and bar has been playing every futbol game non-stop. Of course it probably helps to have an appreciation for futbol, but even if you’re not a die hard fan, it’s difficult not to get caught up in the moment and want to be apart of the action. Last night after we finished watching our second flamenco show (amazing show btw, check it out if you can. We went to Casa Del Flamenco and Casa De La Guitarra; the latter was more authentic but both were great) we walked down the street, pulled up a couple of chairs outside on the curb of a tapas bar and watched the last 10 minutes of the Brasil vs. Cameroon game. Go Brasil!! After the game, we went next door to get some gelato and walked home on a brightly lit street still full of people just hanging out. To make our last night even more perfect, my gelato flavours were salted caramel and Maria Biscuit. Can you believe it… Maria biscuit is an actual flavour! And it was delicious or muy buenisimo as you say in Spanish!!
Some helpful things to know if/when you travel to Sevilla…. stay at a hotel in the centre of the city. We stayed at the Rey Alfonso X on Xeminez Encisco. Absolutely perfect location and great hotel as well. It is in the heart of the Santa Cruz district and walking distance from all of the important monuments, For the ladies, leave your high heels at home. I am the queen of wearing heels and even I had no use for them here. With all of the walking you will be doing on the narrow cobble stone streets, you will be a happier person if you’re roaming in a cute pair of flats instead.


 Every place we ate at was marvelous so you really can’t go wrong wherever you stop.On our first day in town, we happened to dine at the Horno San Buenaventura bakery, which is now a franchise but started out in the San Francisco district (on carlos &canal and bilbao street) as the very first bakery in Europe. Along with yummy baked goods, they also serve a great selection of paella and other savory items. There is a yummy pizza place on the corner of Alfalfa street called ‘Al Natural’ – they make your pizza on the spot… fresh and hot! Super thin crust and mouth watering gooey cheese ontop regardless of the kind you choose. If you are interested in having a drink at a nice lounge with a rooftop patio before you head out, try ‘Diez y Siete. Very cool and trendy vibe.


 No matter how sunny and beautiful the forecast reads, take a sweater and some warm clothes because the weather can be tempermental. Hot and steamy one minute and then a gust of wind will swoop and push you around for an hour so you may as well be prepared. One of my favourite tourist things we did was going to the top of the Giralda Tower. This is the best spot to see all of Sevilla from an aerial view and truly admire her beauty. Thanks to my curious hubby for wanting to do this because I was a bit cranky about having to walk up a ramp of 36 floors to get there. But let me tell you, it was well worth it.

The best advice I can give you is this: Do your best not to get so caught up in being a tourist. Yes of course you will want to see the major sites as we listed above. But don’t worry if you don’t make it to all of them, or any of them for that matter. Sevilla can only be truly appreciated by letting yourself be in it and just enjoy. Walk the streets aimlessly; leave your map at home for a day and get lost a few times; eat at random places you’ve never heard of (which will be just about everywhere if you’re north American); speak some broken Spanish; spend the day sitting on patios and trying as many tapas as your belly can hold!!
One day I will be able to tell my grandkids that Sevilla is the city where I fell in-love with their grandpa all over again. It is where we shared many magnum moments (as explained in my Morocco entry) and got to know each other as if it was our first of many dates. Purely magical.
Goodbye my dear Sevilla, you will be missed; hopefully we will see each other again one day.


Hurry Up And Wait…

15 06 2014

Day 1 – Travel Day

June 14-15, 2014

Calgary – Amsterdam – Morocco – Spain

The next few entries will be all about our travel experiences for the above named places. The original plan was to leave from Calgary, stop over in Amsterdam for an 8hr layover, then Morocco for 5 days and Southern Spain for 10.

So this day naturally started off with loads of excitement and anticipation for our long-awaited trip. In typical Dash style, we were both up until 430am the night before, packing and getting sorted. I actually don’t even think F slept at all.

Our flight was set for 3:20pm so we aimed to be at the airport by 1:30pm; plenty of time to check-in, have lunch and just take our time.   We get to the front of the KLM counter and the attendant says ‘would you like to volunteer to postpone your flight until tomorrow for a $600 credit?’ I started to lose my my mind before I could even get the words out of my mouth. ‘No I don’t want to volunteer to mess up my vacation and all of our plans for yet another day, but thanks for asking.’  Now I have learned a thing or two since my impulsive teenage years, so I kept my belligerent commentary to myself  in my head and simply said ‘no thank you.’  Three minutes later the KLM manager comes up to us and says  ‘I’m so sorry but this flight has actually been oversold and there are no longer any seats available. We can get you on the next flight out at this time tomorrow. ‘ Now this may not seem like a big deal to some of you, but for me it was like the sky was falling. I kept thinking about being in Amsterdam at a cute little cafe having cute little ‘brownies’ and cute little ‘coffee’ (when you’re as mad as I was, everything out of reach becomes cute and even more desirable than they otherwise would have been).  ‘ We can offer you a $600 credit as well as this is completely not your fault.  KLM oversells their tickets by 10 customers for every flight, thinking at least 10 will not show up. Today everyone showed up and you are part of the last 10’, he says.

My response: ‘ How is this our problem? I want a full refund for both tickets and a flight to our destination, that is compensation, not $600 that won’t even cover the cost of the loses we’ll endure for the next day.’  (My inside voice was no longer inside by the way… There is only so much I could learn between my teenage years and today. Maybe I’ll get it right by the time I’m 80.) Anyway, to make what has already been a long story a bit less long, after I walked away from the counter so my calm and more rational half could deal with this situation, KLM managed to re-route us through London and Amsterdam for quick stop overs so we could make our flight to Marrakech. The original plan for the extended stop over in Amsterdam was no longer an option but anything was better than delaying our vacation for an entire 24hrs. I guess our authentic ‘coffee shop’ experience will have to wait for the next trip.

To be honest, the entire journey from Calgary to Marrakech was a bit of a nightmare. For the first leg of the trip there was an ear-piercing screaming child sitting two rows ahead of us . For the second half there was a nuance 4 yr old sitting behind me, kicking my chair as if it just tried to steal his toy. When I would look at his dad to display my irritation, he would look at me with an expression that said ‘aw shuks, kids eh? So adorable. Boys will be boys. Smilie face.’ My expression back said ‘ Your child is the spawn of chucky and I am pretty close to taking him out if you don’t get some control over him. You imbecile.’ I know I should be more sensitive towards parents and their children on planes given that I have 100 nieces and nephews now since all of my friends have babies; but in this moment, I was not an aunt or a lover of children. I was a childless woman in her mid 30’s, wanting to get a little shut-eye before my big adventure starts… everything in me wanted to toss those kids right out the window.  Thank goodness they were just thoughts.

Our stop overs in London and Amsterdam were just as brutal… bad service, abandoned baggage, attendants who didn’t know what they were doing, time wasted rushing around only to wait and wait. I could go on and on but I won’t keep boring you with all that because in the end, we made it and it was definitely worth the ride. First stop Marrakech, Morocco.