Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Nuestras Vacaciones 1: Sevilla

Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of 2013: work abroad. If I could offer you only one piece of advice for the future, an Erasmus year would be it.

Or a foreign language assistantship. Or even that crummy summer camp job in Italy, because when you're a decade older, you won't be naive enough to take it again, and thus will miss out on the wonderful opportunities that only came as a consequence of a few weeks of slave labour for very little pay.

It's unlikely that I will be asked to dispense any advice to this year's crop of school leavers, and even if I am, it's even more unlikely that my listeners will understand the reference in the opening paragraph. (In fact, even as a teenager of the 1990s, I didn't discover its original source until I looked it up just now.) But regardless of all that, my point remains true: one of the best things you can do in your early adult life is travel, work abroad, and make friends with people who are doing the same, because not only will you learn many things and see wonderful places, when you are older and more settled you will have fabulous friends to visit all over the globe.

My friend R. is one such person. We studied at university together, and when I moved to France for my year abroad, she went to Spain. After graduation, we once again found ourselves heading for foreign lands at the same time, and she now lives in Sevillle. I went to visit her in 2010, and this month, 3 years later, it was more than time for a catch-up. I got to see her baby boy and she met Understanding Frenchman for the first time.

Their small apartment being a bit too cramped for 5, Understanding Frenchman and I booked a little studio through Abritel, in the city centre near the Alameda de Hercules, and our 3 days in Seville were a perfect combination of baby cuddles, catch-up chocolate and churros, and sightseeing.

We went to the cathedral, whose tower, with its views over the rooftops of Seville, is definitely one of my all-time favourite buildings to climb:

Last time I went to Seville we were mostly there for the Feria, so I didn't have time to visit the Alcazar, a royal palace of a similar style to the Alhambra in Granada, which also has beautiful gardens:

We went to Plaza de Espana and visited the stunning palace that was built for the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929:

With the city preparing for this year's Feria, there were plenty of opportunities to admire displays of flamenco outfits. To a trained eye, there are differences in the styles of ruffles, and some people invest in a new dress every year:

The point of taking an apartment instead of a hotel room was so that we could cook at home instead of having to eat in restaurants all the time, but the abundance of tempting tapas meant that in fact we hardly ever did. And with a typical bill for two of us coming to about 25 euros, including drinks, we were able to taste all the local delicacies without breaking the bank.

One of the best places we found was in the Triana district, on the opposite side of the river from the cathedral. While it's easily accessible from the centre, it had a much more local feel to it. R. and her boyfriend also gave us good advice about everything from which wines to try to how to use the metro and the result was a smooth and relaxing visit with lots of good times and good company.

So if there's anyone out there (class of 2013 or otherwise!) who's thinking of taking the expat plunge, do it! It won't necessarily all be plain sailing, but you'll be reaping the rewards for years to come.


  1. Amen to that! Discovering the world, across the globe or just across the border, is such a rewarding feeling!

    1. And with your beautiful tri-cultural family, you should know!

  2. If there's one thing I regret about my Erasmus semester in Granada, it's not having visited Sevilla. I am determined to make it out there one day!

    I've been the Erasmus student, the language assistant and had the crummy summer job in Southern Europe. I don't regret anything. You're right, these experiences were trying at times, and now that I am 30 those days are over, but I am glad that I have all these wonderful memories.

    1. I have a blog post on Granada coming up soon. You'll have to tell me if my first impressions match with your experiences!

      As for those days being over, I think we just have to find other ways to do it. I am very envious of your current status as an ex-patted expat!

  3. Haha! I have that speech practically memorized from the song they made out of it that was on the radio all the time around 1999. I think it was Baz Lurhmen who read the text?

    I've never thought much about going to Sevilla, but your post makes it sound interesting!

  4. Yep it was Baz Luhrman that made that text famous to me!

    You should definitely visit Sevilla. From the south of France, maybe you could even drive there. That way you would be able to see all the little towns in the area that we didn't have time to get to on public transport. Friends have also recommended Cordoba and Cadiz as places that are worth a visit.