This past week was Innovative Learning Week at the University of Edinburgh. There were no classes, and the school offered workshops all week for students who chose to stay on campus. I took this opportunity to travel to Spain, where I visited Shannon in Sevilla for 6 days and then spent a day in Madrid. I had the most magnificent time! Here is a summary of the first few days of my week in Spain 🙂
Thursday – Arrival
I arrived in Spain on Thursday night, checked into my hostel, and met up with Shannon for dinner and exploring. We got tapas for dinner… actually, we got tapas every time we went out to eat. Tapas are small dishes which can be served as snacks or, if you order several, as a whole meal. I am the most indecisive person when ordering at a restaurant, but tapas make it a little easier… I don’t have to commit to just one dish! After dinner, Shannon showed me a bit of the city and we went to her favorite heladeria (ice cream shop), Bolas. It was just okay. I went back two more times during my five-day stay purely for research purposes.
This is a small. Awesome, right?! I got Dulce de Leche (caramel colored, left) and Galletas de Maria (cream colored, right).
Shannon and I walked around the Alameda de Hércules (Hercules Mall; also referred to as just La Alameda), a square in Sevilla and popular hang-out spot. We made a canine friend in La Alameda! While we were talking, a dog ran up to the water fountain a couple feet away from us, looked at the button, then looked at us. I ran over to the fountain and pressed the button, and the dog started drinking :’) I got a picture as it was running away after drinking its water, but Shannon got a picture as it was happening!!
Friday – Lunch by Conchi, Torre del Oro, Plaza de España, Churros, Art Gallery
Friday was a very fun and busy day!! I went for a run in the morning – which I was already very excited about since I have been unable to run until recently due to my 2 knee surgeries! Being in such a beautiful city made it even more enjoyable 🙂
In the afternoon, Shannon’s host mom, Conchi, very graciously invited me to come over for lunch! A week later, I am still thinking about the food she made. It was all so good. She set out some tapas (chorizo and cheese, fried fish, bread, and picos), water and red wine to drink, and the most delicious rice for our main dish. I had some really phenomenal food in Spain, but Conchi’s cooking was definitely my favorite. After we finished all of that, she brought out fresh melon and oranges, which made the great meal even better. Here is a picture of me, Shannon, and Conchi all together!
After lunch, Shannon and I went to the Torre del Oro (Tower of Gold). The view from the top of the tower was so pretty.
We then went to Shannon’s favorite place, the Plaza de España. I loved it there so much and went back two more times during my stay in Sevilla!
We also walked around in some nearby gardens, where we saw a flamenco class occurring! After the Plaza de España and gardens, Shannon and I went to get churros con chocolate. We went to the same place that Shannon had her first churros con chocolate, and I was not disappointed in the least!! The churros were so tasty and greasy and all sorts of unhealthy, and the chocolate was rich and sweet… the combination of the two was just marvelous.
While walking around and exploring after churros, Shannon and I stumbled across an art gallery dedicated primarily to the works of Amalio Garcia del Moral, who created hundreds of pieces of art all centered around La Giralda, the tower of the Catedral de Sevilla. I had never heard of Amalio, nor had Shannon, but we loved his drawings and paintings and were so thankful to have come across the exhibit!
Saturday – Independent Exploring and Casa Anselma
Shannon had a day trip to Córdoba, so I spent most of the day exploring the city on my own! I had a very successful day of exploration. The first place I went was Parque Maria Luisa (Maria Luisa Park), where I spent a good chunk of time. The park is huge and beautiful and it was so calming to be surrounded by nature.
After walking through the park, I went back to Plaza de España, which is right next to Parque Maria Luisa. Then, I went to Iglesia del Salvador, which was once a mosque and is now a Catholic church.
I then went to what is officially called “Metropol Parasol“, but called Las Setas (the mushrooms) for its appearance. This is a large wooden structure which, in all honesty, is rather ugly… I am not alone in saying this, though! The construction of Las Setas is a point of contention among Sevillanos. Regardless, it provides some pretty unique views of the city. Here I am on Las Setas:
I met up with Shannon that night after she got back from her day trip. She was very excited to take me to her favorite bar in Sevilla: Casa Anselma. This is an authentic flamenco bar in Triana (the neighborhood where Shannon lives with her host family) that is popular among locals. At Casa Anselma, four very talented Spanish men play instruments and sing while a duo dances the Sevillanas.
We went with Shannon’s friends from school, Kathryn and Kate, and loved it. The atmosphere was so lively and homey – the majority of the people there knew the words to every song and would sing along and dance. The crowd was composed primarily of middle-aged Spaniards, presumably Sevillanos. I am fairly confident the four of us were the only Americans there, which made for a very authentic experience. And, presumably because it was technically Valentine’s Day while we were there, we witnessed a proposal!!! It was so cute.
Sunday (Valentine’s Day!)- Mass, Catedral de Sevilla, Chocolate-Filled Churros, and Fancy Dinner
On Sunday morning, I went to mass at Iglesias de Santa María Magdalena. The mass was in Spanish (which I have not studied since high school), so I did not understand everything, but I followed along pretty well. I took some pictures after mass was over, check out how beautiful it is!
In the afternoon, Shannon and I went to the Catedral de Sevilla, which was breathtaking. This cathedral was also originally a Muslim mosque, and there is still clear evidence of the difference in architectural styles between what the Muslims built and what the Christians built. Here is a photo from inside:
While there, we climbed La Giralda, the Cathedral’s bell tower. The views from the top were stupendous!! Here is one photo I took:
Here is a photo of me and Shannon inside La Giralda.
After the cathedral, we got chocolate-filled churros. YUM.
Shannon’s mom generously treated us to dinner – all the way from America! – at a restaurant right on the river. The food was SO good and I had so much fun talking to Shannon about anything and everything. It was so great to be reunited with my best friend… and in Spain on Valentine’s Day?! It cannot get much better than that!! Really, it could not have gotten any better unless there were puppies there too.
Here is a picture we took in front of Shannon’s favorite bridge, which she crosses every day to get from her apartment to school. It is called Puente de Isabel II, but people refer to it as Puente de Triana.
Stay tuned for the highlights of my last couple of days in Sevilla and my day in Madrid – coming in next week’s post!
Thanks for reading!!