Museo de Bellas Artes y Plaza de España

On a Saturday, I proposed going to see a bit of Art with a friend because with our EU passports the Museo de Belle Artes in Sevilla is free. The museum itself is a beautiful salmon pink building. It showcases the work of Spanish artists but more specifically Andalusian artists.

We made our way through religious iconography and richly detailed still lifes, stopping to look at the little patios and ceilings which were sometimes better than the art itself.

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My favourite style will always be Impressionism and the more gestural brushwork which became popular in the late 19th Century. It’s truly expressive and I loved the more down to earth topics such as flamenco dancers and factory workers. Be sure to pick up a postcard as a memory from the gift shop.

It was quite late but Spaniards always eat and do everything a bit late so we decided to get some lunch. Whilst wandering around the streets we managed to find an amazing restaurant by chance called Mechela. I looked it up after and apparently it is very much in demand so you often need to book. It has a 4.5 rating on Tripadvisor and all! Alex and I were lucky enough to get a seat immediately albeit at the bar. My veggie lasagne was very reasonably priced at €6.00.

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But of course, we were craving dessert which we found further out during our walk. I opted for a lemon sorbet whilst Alex went with the more traditional ‘churros con chocolate’ which is as good as it sounds. Warm, crispy, slightly salted donuts dipped into a rich sweet sauce. Sadly I don’t have a picture to make you salivate.

We then ventuted on to Maria Luisa Park for a nice walk in the shade but were distracted by Plaza de Españas which looked especially beautiful in the sunshine. It was time to take copious amounts of photos because we had a bright blue sky.

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We read the name of each province and talked about whether we wanted to go there or not. We discovered there were many places we wanted to go to. Spanish tourists made sure they took a photo with the display of their hometown.

Finally, after drinking some overpriced but very much needed bottled water we went back to the cool park and explored around. There are horsecarriages and various types of bicycles that you can choose to ride around in. Two years ago, my parents had chosen one of these and mayhem ensued as they shouted at each other for their terrible coordination.

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To avoid, that and the hiring charge we just walked and sat down when we were tired by a little pool.

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There are more museums near the park and once again they were free so we chose the Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares. This one also had a lovely courtyard.

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It was filled with fabrics and information about various processes like tanning, gilding and pottery. Definitely one for those interested in all things crafty and traditional. So make the most if you are ever in town and happen to have an EU passport because it is FREE!

 

 

Feria

In Spain, there is a flamenco festival called Feria. Sevilla’s Feria de Abril is one of the most famous and beautiful. Sevillians really do get into it.

I work in a language school and during the week of Feria most children don’t turn up so I was given an unexpected week off right at the start of my internship. There was no excuse not to go to this fiesta.

Women dress up in traditional flamenco dresses and men wear suits. I did consider buying a dress and going all out but they are quite pricey at €100 each. Instead, I opted to wear one of my nicer dresses and put on some lipstick. You can also buy some cheap fake flowers to put into your hair to fit in with the locals. These ladies, were among the best dressed in my opinion. The detailing the dresses is very authentic with much craftsmanship- some genuinely looked as though they had come from the 19th Century.

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I can’t really speak for Ferias in other Spanish towns and cities as I only went to the one in Sevilla.

In the day time there are horse carriages which parade through Los Remidos. Horses have to answer nature’s call so it is best not to wear your best shoes to the Feria unless you want to spend the next day cleaning them.

As nightfalls, the lights come on and everything looks glittery and magical. There are stalls with games and candy floss for children to play with

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The tipple of Feria is called ‘rebujito’ a mix of sherry and lemonade. It doesn’t really taste of alcohol so be wary- it catches up on you. I thought I wasn’t particularly drunk but my headache the next day disagreed. At a public cassetta we got drinking rebujito out of tiny plastic cups which we kept filling up again and again.

We managed to get into a private cassetta where we drank more rebujito and I attempted (very badly) to dance the Sevillianas and Flamenco . Luckily my partners were patient and tried their best to teach me. The atmosphere is the tent was something else. Everyone was very merry and there was a live band playing traditional music. The floor was filled to the brim with dancers and everyone took part, laughing and swaying late into the night.

Sadly, I was very tired and decided to come home early at 3 am meaning I couldn’t watch the sun come up. It’s definitely an amazing cultural experience that tourists don’t often get to see because getting into a private cassetta requires connections. We were very lucky with the timing internship and this was definitely one of the best parties of my life.

The Alcazar and The Mushrooms

Every Monday evening after 6pm, the Reales Alcazar has free entry for all. Get in the queue nice and early at 5:15 to really make the most of it. In my week off for the Feria (which I will talk about later) I decided to pop in for a visit. I work evenings so normally this wouldn’t be possible meaning I jumped at the opportunity.

I have been to the Alcazar and in fact Seville before and can say it is well worth the price. But when something so amazing is free, it’s something you HAVE to do. I loved to rediscover the parts of the palace and gardens that I had fallen in love with earlier.

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Game of Thrones fans such as myself may recognise this place to be ‘Dorne’, you know the Water Gardens from season 5? Too bad they messed up the plot but that’s just my opinion…

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Strangely, the thing that I love the most about the Alcazar is the amazing tile work. Geometric mosaics line all the surfaces of the palace and you feel dizzied by the beautiful patterns and colours.

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The best example is the ceiling that made me trip over because I kept staring at it. Forgive the blurriness, it was a bit dark.

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There are also the pinky- purple flowers you can see throughout Sevilla in the springtime.

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When the gardens get too hot you can cool off in the underground bathrooms.

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The Alcazar is Old Sevilla which totally contrasts the Mushrooms or ‘Setas’ as they are known in Spanish. Their modern style has provoked a lot of debate within the city as some believe them to be eyesores. I personally quite like them.

Tickets were three Euros with a drink included. I ensured I asked the receptionist whether the free drink was ‘con alcohol’. It was so I was very, very happy.

We timed our visit pretty well so we could catch the sunset falling over the city. There weren’t enough clouds in the sky to get a proper picturesque sunset but the view was hardly ugly.

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Photo creds to Irilena my awesome flatmate for the last pic.

We finished the evening with lots of Tinto de Verano con limone and cervezas whilst tucking into tapas. All in all, a great start to my unexpected holiday.

 

 

 

Adventure Begins…

After endless job applications, cover letters and Skype interviews riddled with technical difficulties, I got an amazing opportunity.

The opportunity to live and work in Seville for three months as an English Teaching Assistant. Flights, insurance and a shared flat were paid for. There was even a hundred euro living allowance for each week so signing my contract was a no brainer. I didn’t even think I had a chance to get it because it really was my first choice.

Before the offer, I had begun to feel a bit worried and downhearted because I had left both my jobs with no offers in sight. The furthest I had been on my gap year was the University of Warwick which definitely didn’t give any elephants and architecture worthy enough for the Insta. So you’ll be surprised to find out that I felt really daunted by it all.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful for this internship but I’m 19 years old, with virtually no Spanish, living in a foreign country away from home for the first time in my life. I made countless to do lists and googled Seville but nothing really seemed to make me feel excited. I’m far from settled because I still get lost when going to buy vegetables (an hour of my life that I’ll never get back) but I feel much more excited about the next three months.

Packing was pretty last minute even by my standards. I had essentially dumped all my summer clothes into a suitcase and put it in my wardbrobe without much thought. Friday came along and I was feeling very, very stressed. I did a lot of folding which calmed me down but I realised that I really needed to sleep because the past week had been very busy. We had training days in London and after, I was always saying goodbye to friends and spending time with family.

At 6am on the day of the flight, I finally felt excited and realised that I would never really be ‘ready’ as such. I did some more haphazard packing and got my Dad to help me close my suitcase.  I slept during the journey but had one last coffee with my parents and took a really bad selfie at the airport. As I got deeper and deeper into the security queue my parents finally waved goodbye and disappeared. That’s when it struck me that it had really begun. My gap yah was going to quickly become more interesting so there was no excuse for a lack a blogging. This once in a lifetime opportunity shall make it onto the blogosphere.