Sevilla: Where everything is a shade of yellow…

Where can I start? Seville in my head was different to Seville in front of my eyes. In my head it was this rugged farm lands with olive groves and small town with walls painted in mustard yellow. In reality it was a much bigger town. But when we went looking for accommodation, I was thrilled to find that we were yet again in other ‘old town’ area. It was amazing!!!!!

a little touristy at first with lot of eating places catering to that but nothing can beat walking in narrow paved paths with mustard yellow walls surrounding us.

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There were 100 of little roads and we got lost. Really lost. And it was fun. A place we saw once we could almost never find again. 🙂 I could Live in that old town for a long long time. I loved it. And then there were tapas. (Drool) We ate so much tapas as main meals I have forgotten what main meals look like. They were amazing and every 5 minutes after walking you will come across eateries/ restaurants/ tapas bars and deciding where to eat was out biggest problem. 🙂

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Main attractions in Seville include the Alcazar, with some saying it is more beautiful than the one in Alhambra, The Seville Cathedral, Metropol Parasol, Arena for bull fights,etc.. and even on a quiet day you will still have to stand in queue. So As we spent the first day walking around the town and appreciating the amazing architecture, the horse carts that are so unique to Seville and getting lost in the little streets we decided to leave out going inside the cathedral. Tough decision, I know but by this point we have been to so many cathedrals that were wonderful it didn’t feel appealing to wait in queue for hours to get into another. DSC_0939 DSC_0942 DSC_0991 DSC_1003

Of course that didn’t mean we didn’t appreciate the cathedral from outside. We did day and night. 🙂 It was magical atmosphere around the Cathedral and the horse carts made it extra special. (Even though at some point I did feel sorry for the horses)

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Then the  next stop was the Metropol parasol or the Mushroom. 🙂 I was quite excited to see this as I couldn’t picture the structure I have seen in photos in actual Seville town. But when I went there it was surprisingly well done. I didn’t expect to like it as I have heard Sevillians do not particularly like the structure. I understand why. It is something very different and we did question ‘why is it here’? 🙂 But I am glad I made the effort to go see it. It was structurally beautiful and the views of seville from the top was even more beautiful.

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Just as we got out of here it started pouring. We ran in to a local fish shop and had a drink while the rain stopped and called it a day. Next morning was the big day. Seeing the Alcazar. I really didn’t know what to expect but I was blown away. It was amazing.

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The architecture, the details, patterns. landscaping, colours, paintings and I could go on. It is a must see. I’ll let the photos speak for itself.

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After being awed by the Alcazar we did a night time walk around town. It was even more spectacular.

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Next day we headed to the other side of the town, where there were less tourist and not as glamorous but just as interesting. Ate some chestnuts, some ice cream, walked in and out of a few shops and headed to the Bull fighting arena.

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The day before it was the ‘final’ bull fight of the season and A was so eager to go. But I am not a fan of bull fights and will not stand and watch people kill animals so we skipped that. But as a peace offering to A we decided to take a tour of the arena. It was interesting. 😉

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All this time we were looking for a place to see some flamenco. After all this is Seville. But everything we came across was either expensive or just for tourists. As much as we wanted to see a local performance, with the amount of tourists in the area we realised it was going to be impossible. So while I was browsing online to find some info I came across a blog by some one (sorry I forget your name) talking about a very low key place so we decided that night to go on search of that. So like I have mentioned before, the old town is a tricky place to navigate. But we did well. We got there and it was just a red door with the name Carboneria. We walked in with a bit of suspicion and someone let us in to see the back was a bigger area packed with people but with a dodgy look. 🙂 We got ourselves a drink, found some amazing people, met a friend for life and got a seat to see what this was all about.

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It was definitely an interesting night with lots of fun. A good high to end our seville adventures.

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Madrid: Where it all began…

When we were trying to decide where to go for our next big adventure, we were tossing up between a few countries and then I put my foot down and decided on Spain & Portugal. (ok maybe I exaggerated a little bit there ;))
And then after 4 months of planning and a 25 hour plane ride later we were in Madrid. After finding our hotel and leaving our backpacks we stepped out to the streets of Madrid.

After just two minutes of walking we found plenty of cobble stone streets, cute restaurants with chairs and tables out on the street and jamon hanging off the ceilings and people chatting and getting ready for the lunch rush. We decided to first get some food so wandered in to a restaurant which had ‘Paella Marisco’ on their chalk board menu but it was empty. We knew before coming here that in Spain people don’t have lunch until well past 1pm. And we were a little bit early. The guy behind the bar was nice and asked us to have a seat but food won’t be ready till 1. We were fine with that and I ordered the paella and a sangria while A ordered jamon tostadas with a beer. We saw tostadas in every lunch menu and they were pretty much slices of toasted bread with thinly sliced cured meat.

Then we excitedly waited for our first taste of Spain.

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"Paella Marisco"
“Paella Marisco” 
"Pimientos & Sangria"
“Pimientos & Sangria”
"Churros of a different kind"
“Churros of a different kind”
"Cute shops everywhere"
“Cute shops everywhere”

Then we headed back for a nap to get rid of jet-lag (unsuccessfully) and started wandering again at night. It was a different sight. The streets were completely taken over by people. We walked to Puerta de sol (Gate of the sun) one of the most known and busiest squares in Madrid. People were everywhere. There were dancers, footballers, magicians and sellers. It was somewhat overwhelming but exciting at the same time. Next stop Gran via, the street known as the Spanish Broadway. It was big. Architecture, lights, shopping, food, people, cars, all in one place. It was a shoppers paradise. From there we moved onto Plaza Mayor, where grand buildings stood on all four sides making this one of the biggest squares I’ve seen, Yet it was much calmer than Sol, maybe it was late at night. Still it had a very real european feeling with restaurants on all sides and seating out in the open.

Puerta del sol
Puerta del sol

Gran via madrid

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Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor
Plaza Mayor

Day 2 in Madrid started with a walking tour. We decided to do a free walking tour just to get a glimpse of the city, to know the places we might not go otherwise. This turned out to be a good idea. We started from Plaza Mayor and went to the ‘square of the closed gate’, the oldest restaurant, Plaza de La villa, Catedral de La Almudena, Palacio Real de Madrid, Plaza Oriente and finished off at Plaza de Isabel II or the Opera Square.

walking tour

"colours of Spain"
“colours of Spain”
colours of Spain
colours of Spain
"Almudena Cathedral"
“Almudena Cathedral”
"Almudena Cathedral"
“Almudena Cathedral”
"Almudena Cathedral"
“Almudena Cathedral”
"Royal Palace of Madrid"
“Royal Palace of Madrid”
"Royal Palace of Madrid"
“Royal Palace of Madrid”

After the walk we decided to venture on our own towards the Art district which turned out to be quite different from the Madrid we have seen so far. It was big and clean with less tourists and felt more like a CBD in a western country of course except for the amazing architecture that are centuries old. First we headed towards Reina Sofia Museum, after being inspired by the works of Picasso, Salvador Dali and many alike we headed to the Prada Museum. It is Spain’s main National Museum and home to some of the finest collections. And not surprisingly there was a massive line. It was too long to wait to get in for us so we decided to take a photo of the line, say hello to the museum and move on.thumb_IMG_3942_1024

"Reina Sofia"
“Reina Sofia”
"Caixa Forum"
“Caixa Forum”
"Prada Museum"
“Prada Museum”

And move on we did. We spent an amazing Autumn evening in Retiro Park.The park was full of colours, sun was ready to set and the weather was beautiful. What better way could you end a day? Walk around the park, a quick look at the crystal palace just before it closed and ended the day sitting in a cafe near the lake, sipping coffee, watching people and writing postcards. The park was full of colours, sun was ready to set and the weather was beautiful. What better way could you end a day? Walk around the park, a quick look at the crystal palace just before it closed and ended the day sitting in a cafe near the lake, sipping coffee, watching people and writing postcards.

"Retiro park"
“Retiro park”

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"Crystal Palace"
“Crystal Palace”

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"Postcards from Madrid"
“Postcards from Madrid”

On our way back we came across the Puerta de Alcala. The light was perfect for some amazing shots. Dinner was at Mercado San Miguel. I have no photos for proof. But it’s something you have to do. There are lot of options. Buy some tapas with all sorts of fillings, a nice big glass of sangria and… The End. 🙂

"Puerta de Alcala"
“Puerta de Alcala”

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"Puerta de Alcala"
“Puerta de Alcala”

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Travel tip – Madrid is full of tourists and even more tourist traps when it comes to eating and drinking. Have meals at their times. Lunch after 1pm and dinner after 8pm. Always stay away from restaurants and bars near major sights and wander into the little streets. A tip we got from a local, if there are english menu’s, if there are signs saying’ we speak english’ or if there are photos of the dishes in the menu, especially paella, run! 🙂