THE SEVILLE CITY GUIDE - HOW TO SPEND THREE DAYS IN THE CAPITAL OF ANDALUSIA , SOUTH OF SPAIN

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We were desperate to be in Europe in December but wanted to avoid the cold as much as possible. The south of Spain proved to be the perfect destination. Earlier in the year, I wrote a blog post about traveling Europe in Winter. Seville is one of those destinations you can visit in winter as it has with milder winter compared to other parts of Spain and Europe. I had my eye on this region of the world for ages and I could never get the pieces lined up to take the trip that was until a while ago when the opportunity presented itself. We flew British Airways out of London Gatwick and despite the drama of getting through security (read: I almost missed the flight); we arrived in Seville ok; took a cab to our residence for the week.

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WHERE TO STAY. By sheer coincidence, we ended up staying at two different hotels during our stay. They were both excellent; except for the spotty internet at the first one; both had an insane view of the city and within walking distance to the Royal Alcazar palace and the Seville cathedral. We absolutely loved our time at Hotel Palacio Alcazar and Eurostar Seville.

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Sevilla

GETTING AROUND. Because there were three of us, we opted for taxis when the destination was not within walking distance. Cab fares split three ways was cheaper than getting a transport card. We used cabs to get to and from the airport ; to and from the train station for our day trips and once to get to/from the national museum. Almost everything else we did was within 20 to 30 minute trek of our hotels.

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TIME OFF WORK. We planned a full week in the South of Spain from Seville to Granada. We spent 3 days in Seville and it did not feel nearly enough. If I had to do it over again I will probably plan to spend four full days in the city as I felt we rushed thing. You will need a day dedicated to the Royal Alcazar and the Cathedral. If you want to take your time, you could stretch out the Royal Alcazar to a full day; we rushed through it because we knew we were short on time and want to do and see as much as possible.

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WHERE TO EAT. We did not have a bad meal in Seville, on our first full day, we stumbled on spot that became our default dining option when we could not agree. A note to bear in mind, meal times in this part of the world are typically later than meal times in London or the States. Once we showed up to dinner at 8:30 p.m. and were the only ones in the restaurant for about forty-five minutes. Our favorite spot for Tapas was Postiguillo and we loved every dish we ordered here. We especially enjoyed the OxTail. I grew eating OxTail in Nigeria but had a rediscovery while we were in Seville - we ordered it at every Tapas meal. Other favorites were Ovejas Negras Tapas and La Gorda de Las Setas. Curros was recommended to us but we did not get a chance to visit. Panypiu bakery was one of my favorite spots for coffee and a baked good in the morning. I recommend drinks at Hotel Alfonso XIII - the hotel was commission was the king of Spain in the 1920s and remains an iconic cultural landmark - we stopped by for tea and drinks before dinner one of the evening. I loved the vibe of this place. The Eurostar hotel rooftop bar with an excellent view, I cannot recall the quality of the drinks, but I remember the view. We also dined at La Moderna - while I did not enjoy the meal here, others in our party did, so I am including on this list due to that fact.

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WHAT TO DO. I have written blog posts of two of the highlights of our time in Seville - The Royal Alcazar of Seville and the Seville Cathedral - check those out here and here for details. The blog archives also contain all the details of the various days trips to Cordoba ; Granada and Carmona that we to completed during our time in Seville. If you can, I recommend spending at least forty-eight hours in Granada - our day trip was very rushed. Besides those, I recommend visiting the La Giralda, a bell tower next to the Seville Cathedral. Visit one of the many museums in the city - my personal recommendations are the museum of fine arts and Archaeological Museum. The Metropol Parasol (aka the Mushroom building) is a stunning structure that you should see if you are into that sort of thing. The Jewish quarter is a great area to explore. Besides the Jewish Quarter, I also recommend exploring Plaza Nueva outside city hall and Barrio Santa Cruz. My one regret of our trip was not visiting Plaza de Espana, do not miss it on your trip.

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A COMPLETE GUIDE TO SPENDING 36 HOURS IN BARCELONA <> BARCELONA , SPAIN

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Park Guell

My time in this city was too short and I cannot wait for an opportunity to do over. I spent about forty hours in Barcelona. It was just four days after the Paris attacks of 2015 and the city like the rest of Europe was on high alert. Getting off the aero bus airport shuttle bus at city center - it was impossible to miss the tribute to those who died in Paris and the armed military and police strolling the city (more so than they normally would).

I was very apprehensive to visit another city after having just being in France and Paris - everything in me wanted to run back home and never travel. Somehow, I talked myself into the trip and I am so glad I did. Barcelona reminded me that the best response to such events is not to hide away in fear; it was to step out and do more ; live more and refuse to let fear rule. Given my limited time in the city, I opted for exploring with a tour Company on my only full day in the city. The tour Company was Barcelona day tours and I thoroughly enjoyed the itinerary they put together. More of that later.

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The trip did not start off great. I arrived in city center and could not navigate myself to my hotel. The trek from city center to my hotel was supposed to be ten minutes; I spent an hour and half going round in circles. I eventually gave up and hailed a cab. I arrived at the hotel only to be informed that although I had confirmed booking and prepaid; there was no room for me. I was sent to a sister hotel which was not up to par the hotel I booked. The language barrier made my compliants futile. They apologised and offered me a decent bottle of Malbec. I am not sure if it was the frustration of the hotel situation or the events of the days leading up to my arrival in Barcelona; but I had a very good cry after checking into my room and just wanted to pull the plug on Barcelona. After pulling myself together, I talked myself into leaving my hotel to explore the area. I was staying in one of the popular neighborhoods in Barcelona - La Ramblas. There is quite a bit to do in La Ramblas, but it was my time a La Boqueria market that stuck with me. You can read my guide to La Ramblas here. The best way to explore the area is to stroll around the neighborhood - keep an eye out for the market ; Canalizes Fountain; Casa Bruno Cadres; Gran Teatre de Lice.

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After my time exploring La Ramblas - there was still a lot of day light left and although the tour I booked included a stop at La Sagrada La Familia; I could not wait to see the Gaudi masterpiece - I made a quick stiop there; there were no tickets for the day so I walked around the exterior before making my way to the other side of town to visit Camp Noud - possibly one of the most famed football statdiums in the world. My tour the next day kicked off at 7 a.m. so I called it a night after Camp Noud.

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DAY 2

I signed up for a tour with Barcelona day tours using my British Airways Avois points (the tour currently costs 99 euros). They managed to pack all the good things into one day. My tour package included tickets into Park Guell and a trip out to the Monastery in Montserrat.

The tour started at city center with a stop at one of Gaudi’s masterpeice - Casa Mila (La Pedrera). Our tour guide was incredibly knowleagable about the city and its history and also Gaudi and his works. We were constrained for time so we did not go into the building. Next, we visited the site of Sagrada Familia. It was still early but the lines were already forming. I was able to get closer to the structure than the day before and our guide pointed out some details on the structure I will have otherwise missed. We were off to a great start.

Casa Mila
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We continued the tour at Park Guell. Park Guell is one of Gaudi’s major works. It is a public park with gardens and architecture. It is said to be the project that captures all of Guadi’s architectural genius and innovative ideas. Because I am a Guadi fan girl - I have written a Park Guell post. We spent about an hour and half exploring the park before we began the journey up the the mountain to visit the Monastery at Montserraut.

We arrived at Montserraut around mid day just in time to hear La Escolania – the famous European boys’ choir perform and it was beautiful. We saw the spiritual black Madonna and spent a few hours exploring the grounds of the Monastery including the farmer’s market. This is a day trip I recommend if you are in Barcelona. All about my time at Montserraut here.

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We drove back to Barcelona to continue the tour. Back in Barcelona we made stops at Montjuic which offers an incredible view of the city and the port. Next stop, Plaza Espanya the most impressive plaza in Barcelona with its monumental fountain. The tour stops also included the national museum of art (Museu Nacional d'Art de Catalunya) which is an impressive building with great views. The tour did not include a visit inside. If you are a fan of architecture, you will be well satisfied seeing the exterior. The tour also made stops at Port Olympic ; the olympic rings; Passeig de Gracia and a stop to view Mount Tibidabo.

The tour ended at city center. I took the opportunity to walk around Plaza Catalunya - the famous plaza in city center before heading to dinner at La Boqueria.

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Plaza Espanya
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DAY 3

Last day in Barcelona. I had a flight back to Paris at noon and although I wanted to stop by one or two of Gaudi’s buildings; I chose to sleep in with only enough time for breakfast and one final stop at Plaza Catalunya for a bit of people watching before catching the bus to the airport. There is a shuttle bus from Plaza Catalunya.

Getting to and from the airport. There is a aero shuttle bus that runs from both Terminal 1 and 2 to city center. If you are staying in the La Ramblas area, the aero bus pick up and drop off is around the edge of Plaza de Catalunya (typically outside El Corte Ingles department stort). If you heading to the airport, make sure to get in the right bus for your terminal. It is about a half hour ordeal trying to get from T1 to T2 (and vice versa)

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This post contains affiliate link for Aerobus Barcelona - it is the best; most reliable way to get from the Airport to City Center. I use it myself whenever I am in Barcelona. The shuttle starts running at 5:30 a.m. and is available from both T1 and T2 of the Barcelona airport. Reserve your Aerobus ticket in advance here

THE BEST VIEW IN SEVILLE AND WHY THE SEVILLE CATHEDRAL SHOULD BE ON YOUR BUCKETLIST

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral

I did not intend to dedicate an entire post to our time at the Cathedral, but as I edited the photos for the city guide to Seville post, I knew I had to give our time at the Cathedral its own spot in this corner of the internet. The Cathedral is just a few feet from the Royal Alcazar, right in the city center; and it towers over the entire city.

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Seville Cathedral

 If you have seen other European cathedrals then you might think you know what to expect here but I can assure you - the cathedrals in the South of Spain are nothing like you have ever seen and the Seville Cathedral is in a class all by itself. In part, for its size and gorgeous exteriors but also for the seemingly over the top gold interiors and with a massive gold back drop at one end of the interior that will leave you in awe.

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
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Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral

As breathtaking as those are, it is the tower atatched to the Cathedral that made this one of our favorite parts of Seville. I cannot believe we debated skipping on climbing the tower. The trek up is not the worse one my out of shape self has ever done, but I will advise taking a bottle of water with you and pacing yourself - you will be rewarded for your effort. Even before we made it to the viewing platform - we knew we had made the right decision to climb the bell tower. On the trek up, we caught glimpses of what awaited us at the top and that was motivation to push on; we arrived at the bells first and then the colorful rooftops appeared before us. We were left speechless. We just looked at it each other and laughed loudly that we almost missed this. Then,  I proceeded to take over 250 pictures from every angle possible.

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
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Seville Cathedral

We were surrounded by people but it still felt incredibly peaceful up there viewing the city below. We had spent the morning at the Royal Alcazar and thought there was nothing else in Seville to top out time there - who knew. There was nothing else on the calendar so we were not rushed to escape the beautiful before us. My growling stomach was however not on board and we regrefully had to pull ourselves away to get nourishment. We followed the crowds out through the cathedral lawn which was equally beautiful. We exited through the gates from the lawn and rows of orange trees to join the rest of the tourist crowd exploring the city center.

Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral
Seville Cathedral

LA BOQUERIA MARKET // BARCELONA, SPAIN

La Boqueria
La Boqueria

I am obsessed with markets. No matter where I am in the world - if I find my way to a market - I feel as though I have had the local's experience. Of all the markets I have been lucky to visit, La Boqueria in Barcelona is my favorite. Located in the heart of La Ramblas - a visit to Barcelona is so much better if you have this on your itinerary. The La Ramblas neighboorhood is quite a tourist spot so the market does get busy at time but dont let that discourage you - it will be a disservice to skip a visit to La Boqueria if you are in Barcelona. It has got everything from an oyster bar ; fresh juices to empanadas (the best empanadas, ever). There are also restaurant ; vegetable and fruit stalls and spices and nuts on sale with locals and tourist shopping alongside.  I explored every nook of the market stopping by just about every food stall for a nibble from the taste platter; had two fruit drinks and ate the most delicious empanadas. I picked up some spices and sweets for friends back home and settled on a stool at the bar of one of the restaurant to people watching.  I could have sat there all day, but with only 48 hours in Barcelona - I had to force myself to go explore other parts of the city. If you find yourself in La Ramblas - stop by and also check out my guide to La Ramblas for other things to do in this part of Barcelona.

This post contains affiliate link for Aerobus Barcelona - it is the best; most reliable way to get from the Airport to City Center. I use it myself whenever I am in Barcelona. The shuttle starts running at 5:30 a.m. and is available from both T1 and T2 of the Barcelona airport. Reserve your Aerobus ticket in advance here

La Boqueria
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La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria
La Boqueria

A DAY AT THE ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE // SEVILLE, SPAIN

ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE

As soon as we decided to spend our winter vacation in the Andalusia region of Spain with a base camp in Seville. I immediately started planning the trip to the Royal Alcazar. We were lucky to get a hotel in the heart of the downtown area and just a few yards from the gate of the lion entrance to the palace. 

ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE

Sevilla and a lot of Andalusian region of Spain benefit from the combination of the Moorish; Mediterranean and European influences which are evident in its architecture and makes this part of Spain one of the most romantic; vibrant and beautiful places I have ever visited. The attention to detail of the palace space cannot be described in words - every tile; every ceiling; even the garden layout takes your breath away and in all the spaces we visited in this region, the Royal Alcazar stands in a class all by itself.

ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE

From the Puerta de Leon (Gate of the lion entrance), it was evident this was not going to be like any other historical site we have visited. The site of the palace was previously a Roman settlement that was used by the Visigoths as a fortress at some point and later conquered by the Arab who transformed the space. Many additions and renovations later, we get to enjoy the spectacular space. 

ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE

A few tips to keep in mind if you are planning a trip: go early because it is one of the top spots in Sevilla and it gets packed at certain times; plan to spend a couple of hours to get the most out of the visit;  take cash because when we visited we could not pay the entrance fee with cards; have a snack and water handy - there is a lot of ground to cover and you don't want to miss out on anything because you get peckish; wear comfortable shoes and be camera ready (every corner - even the ceiling) is photograph worthy. 

ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE

It was a challenge to put down my camera to enjoy the moment. I wanted to capture every detail of what made me fall in love with space. There is so much to see and experience so my one plea to you is to explore every turn and space that is open - you will not be disappointed. In every space you walk through - don't forget to look up because the ceiling work in this place is breathtaking ; make sure to explore the garden and the grounds - the main water feature has a simple elegance that I cannot describe; the garden layout with peacocks roaming the maze is something out of a storybook. Don't miss out on the top floors, the tiled stairways along will captivate you and the views from the top floors of the grounds and gardens should not be missed and the top floor spaces hold more wonder. 

ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
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ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE
ROYAL ALCAZAR OF SEVILLE