Seville & Carmona: A Tale of Two Cities

It's back to reality for this girl. After 10 days in Spain, I'm finally home and trudging through my never-ending to-do list as I prepare myself to go back to Uni next week. And so today I'm writing to you in quite a jet-lagged state, ready to use this space to reminisce about the last bit of my holiday.

If you'd like to catch up on the happenings of the first part of my trip to Spain, you can read here about Barcelona. After a few days in the big city, we headed South to Malaga and spent most of our time lounging on the beach or by the pool, getting significantly tan in the hot Spanish sun.

Thoroughly tanned and full of food, my parents and I left Malaga for Seville on Friday and my brothers headed back home to the States to head back to work. So it was just the three of us for the car ride to Seville, where we stopped to soak up some of the city's most well-known sites.

Seville is steeped in history, and represents a fascinating meshing of cultures and religions, taking influence in both it's food and architecture from Islamic and Catholic communities. I particularly loved the Moorish aspect of the city, as it felt vastly different from the rest of Spain.

While we weren't staying in Seville, we took our first afternoon to explore the city, parking the car and walking through the surprisingly busy streets. Now, I'm not saying that Seville was crazy busy, but I personally didn't have the impression that it would be so crowded beforehand. And boy, was it hot. More than a half an hour spent in the sun had me feeling all kinds of dizzy.

So to escape from the heat, we first headed to the world-famous Cathedral of Seville, which is one of the largest of it's kind in the world. We gazed up at the vaulted ceilings, intricate mosaics, and gilded paintings for a few minutes before settling down in the pews to read up a bit on the history of the Cathedral. What stood out to me most of all was that the Cathedral actually is said to have it's own independent climate from the rest of the city due to the incredibly high ceilings!

After exploring the Cathedral, we walked up the seemingly infinite winding ramp up to the top of the tower. It was a long climb, but the views were definitely worth it. Well, I guess you can be the judge of that:

Awestruck by the city views, we made our way down the tower and into the town for lunch, where we stuffed ourselves with way too many tapas for our own good at Bar La Sacristia. If you ever find yourself in Seville, make sure to try a dish of stewed chickpeas and spinach- you'll find it on almost every menu, I swear.

We were ambitious in doing more sightseeing after our large lunch and exhaustion from the heat, and so we actually found ourselves getting lost trying to find the entrance to Alcazar. Which, by the way, is across the street from the Cathedral (and Google Maps will give you a totally different impression of this). Instead, we settled for ice cream at Amorino- which I've learned is an Italian gelato chain that has recently gone international. But don't be phased by the fact that it's a "chain"- the rose-petal shaped ice cream is as delicious as it is gorgeous.

As I said earlier, we weren't actually staying in Seville for this portion of our trip. Rather, we were staying in a small, more isolated town called Carmona just 45 minutes outside of Seville. While the town is significantly smaller than Seville, it was incredibly charming and full of just as much (if not more) character.

We stayed at the Parador of Carmona, which was stunning by the way! Built in a 14th century Arab fortress, this state-run hotel had surprises around every corner- a courtyard in the center, a pool that can only be reached by a long staircase, and a large terrace perfect for enjoying a drink.

On our second day, my boyfriend Ben joined me and my parents in Carmona after having worked for 9 weeks in London. It had been a long time since we had last seen each other so it was the ideal time to reunite prior to going back to uni.

Once we picked him up from the airport we immediately went to explore the ancient ruins of Carmona. Oddly enough, we were the only ones there so it was like we had a playground at our disposal. Okay, we didn't actually play around on the ruins (thus ruining them more), but we did have lots of fun exploring without anyone else getting in our way. It was such a different experience from nearby Seville!

Next was lunch, which we enjoyed at a local bar called Mingalario, where we once again ate our bodyweight in tapas (I'm not sure if that's really how "small plates" are supposed to work). The cutest part of the restaurant was that the tables were set up on the street, against the facade of an old church of sorts. The least cute part of the restaurant were these hefty quail egg, pate, and ham open-faced sandwiches. But they were tasty! 

After lunch, headed back to the hotel for a quick snooze, and then Ben and I set off without my parents to do a bit of wandering around the center of town to get a feel for the place and take some photos. I can always count on Ben to be my #1 photographer ;)

We found the cutest little wine bar in the middle of a square that was a bit out of the way, and promised to come back when it was open later that night. And so after dinner, we did! It was so surreal sitting in that pretty little square, watching adults and children alike enjoying their Saturday night, and drinking too much wine. In fact, we were even given two extra glasses of wine from the owner of the bar as he was closing up shop!

Our final full day obviously included more drinking, but this time in the form of a tour of the bodegas of Tio Pepe, a leading producer of sherry in nearby Jerez. The tour was notably cheesy, but this was made up for in the fact that the grounds of the winery were remarkably beautiful. Case in point: the grapevine "ceilings" shading the narrow streets of the property.

While I found the sherry at the tasting to be a bit of a disappointment, the tour allowed us to learn the basics about the drink. Luckily, however, we were able to taste some more sherry at a nearby restaurant, La Carbona, with a five course sherry-pairing menu. Now, I've eaten at a lot of places in many different countries and let me tell you, this was some of the best food I've ever put in my mouth. From luscious, rare-as-can-be steak to sherry-vinegar drenched artichoke hearts, each plate impressed more than the other. And don't even get me started on dessert! I thought I had died and gone to heaven with the "cheese" ice cream and raspberry coulis. I literally wouldn't stop talking about it for the rest of the day.

And right now I'm still dreaming about that dessert and wishing I was back in Carmona wandering around its cobbled streets. From Seville to Carmona, these two unique cities have me longing for a trip back. But for now, it's back to uni for me. Maybe next summer ;)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...