Spain was the next country to visit during my first European trip in 2014 (wow, almost three years ago). There are so many reasons to go there that I couldn’t list all, honestly. Football (Real Madrid x Barcelona to say the least), music, dance (flamenco fascinates me), history and several promises of good food and drink. So here we go!
With some help, suggestions and lots of advice from Spanish fellows I met along the way in Dublin, little by little I mapped out a plan: to access the country on the road from Lisbon, then Granada (highly recommended), Madrid (exciting just to hear its name) and Barcelona (a dream of almost all beginner travellers).
I reached Seville in the morning, very early – so early that I considered taking a nap on any corner at the bus station before moving on. However, I had to find my hostel and, of course, that would take some time as I hardly ever find my accommodation painlessly. Quite an hour later (yes, that much to find it), I came across the house, an old and impressive building in a historic part of the city (everything seems is historic there, though). Quickly I met the owner, who told me about a flamenco show in the evening. As the attraction was a must-see for me, I booked my ticket right away. According to him, that presentation would be the best in town. I don’t know if I trusted him very much, but it seemed a good deal. Twenty euro or something like that, but that was fine. I’m quite tight-fisted when I travel (I’m joking, I am a bit stingy all the time), but I do believe it’s morally wrong to set foot in Seville and don’t see people dancing flamenco, as the dance appeared exactly in that town.
Evening plans were scheduled, so it was time to explore the city. Seville is colourful and full of picturesque buildings. You breathe history there.
The trip would also be an opportunity to use my Spanish, as I was able to speak it fairly well (fairly well = broken Spanish, but still useful). In a bakery, I did my best to order my breakfast in that language, you know, somehow you want to feel a local for a while. I opened my mouth and… no Spanish. I was struggling to utter something, but only English came up, and eventually, the girl behind the counter asked me in English if I wanted something. Of course, a blonde girl having tremendous trouble to pronounce a couple of simple words… un café y un bocadillo… I felt quite embarrassed not because of the fact itself, as workers there must be too busy to notice someone’s effort to speak their language, but bloody hell I had studied Spanish for months. I had travelled to Colombia, interviewed people on the phone in the middle of protests in Paraguay and translated loads of articles. How come you can’t order a fucking coffee?
I put the frustration behind, though, as I didn’t have time for language failures. I should focus on exploring the town and all its precious buildings. Churches, old houses, small shops and beautiful balconies which seem to be a mark in Spanish architecture. The Cathedral of Sevilla is obviously fantastic, but even more was the chance to see many people, locals and tourists, up and down around the marvellous construction and its medieval walls.
Although my Spanish was poor, at least it was enough to understand signs and inscriptions in monuments, what enriched my experience there. I noticed that tables and chairs are placed outside bars, which reminded me of our Brazilian bars. After ages feeling “locked” in Irish pubs (usually with their doors closed) was way pleasant to be in a “Latin” environment.
Dead on my feet, in the evening I went to the hostel to have a shower and rest a little, and afterwards, I headed for the flamenco show. It paid off, certainly. Great dancers, enchanting music. Some people were also having dinner during the attraction, drinking wine and so on, but I couldn’t spend money like water, so watching the stuff was more than satisfying.
Next morning, I went downstairs for breakfast (I NEVER skip breakfast in hostels as it’s usually free and it can support you for hours during the day) and, having eaten a lot of bread and milk and cereal, I went for a tour at “El Patio Sevillano”, a place where toradas still take place. I pretty much know that the practice is loathsome and shameful, but I couldn’t help myself visiting one of those arenas which were scenarios for Hemingway’s stories.
You learn a lot about Spanish culture there and I do hope that this “sport” can be prohibited, so as to people can enter the building to know more about horrible events which inflicted pain to so many innocent animals.
I kept strolling around Seville (certainly my feet hated me at that time) trying to absorb all that history, its colours and details that tell so many stories that couldn’t be learned in only forty-eight hours.
Surely Plaza de España was one of the places that impressed me most in Spain. It’s hard to believe that the construction is new, as it really seems from centuries ago.
In my second (and last) evening, I hung out with Raquel and Valle, who I had met in Dublin during a Couchsurfing event months before. They helped me preparing the trip and it was such a pleasure to chat with them. I’m against the idea that your travels are only worth if you spend time with locals (sometimes you can’t do that), but when you can, gosh, your trip become so special. Not only did the girls meet me in a weekly evening, but also paid the whole bill. No words to thank them!
After our meal (diverse types of tapas and beers), they wished me a good trip to Granada, my next destination. I went back to the hostel (only men in the mixed room, but it turned out well) to get some sleep and be grateful to the universe for all my good moments.
The most surprising thing about Seville, though, I found out only when I was back to Brazil. Popping in one of my aunt’s house in my hometown, she told me something I didn’t know: that I had a Spanish background from Seville. I surely knew about my Italian roots and I had heard something about Spanish from my mom’s ancestors, but I didn’t know that it was from Andaluzia. I guess the information would have been important during the trip, as to establish even more connection with the place. But I don’t complain, as those days were unforgettable the way they were.