Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Night and A Day in Sevilla

Buñuelos, churros, solomillo al whisky, ensaladilla, pan frito con jamón y salmorejo, croquetas, patatas bravas, cervezas, chupitos: this is the Sevilla I came to know. Tasting any single one of these dishes will make you a happier person, tasting all of them is ultimate satisfaction. My 24 hours in Sevilla were defined by savory food and the continuous flow of inexpensive drinks. It took no more than a day and night in the Andalusian capital to find myself in awe, in love and a changed man. Seven hundred years of Arabic influence mesh seamlessly with the Spanish city creating an inspirational combination of  architectural grace and vivid colors. The friendly people were even a capable match for this elegant city. My friend Carlos guided us through Spain, and his friends Guadalupe and Manuel were responsible for one of the truly great nights of food and drink in my life in the amazing city of Sevilla.

I had been looking forward to this trip for weeks Spanish music filled the air in my Italian apartment in the build up to the journey. I continually insisted that this trip would be one of a kind to my travel mate, and good friend, Alessandro. A smile came over my face the instant I departed the plane, and I expressed my feeling that this would be the best five days of my life to Alessandro like a jubilant child. Our long lost friend Carlitos greeted us at the airport and guided us by bus to our hostel in the very center of Sevilla. After checking in we wandered for a very short time before finding Guadalupe in a plaza in the center of the city. The bar we went to was a doorway with room for about six people inside where one Euro cervezas were served in order to be taken out into the plaza to drink. The thought of beer for one Euro was exciting enough but when Manuel arrived to show us the town, the night turned into a true dream of tapas and fun.

The list at the beginning of this post starting with solomillo and ending with bravas consists of some of the best foods that have ever graced my taste buds. Perfectly cooked Jamón and potatoes with sauces that I will soon have recipes for provided a culinary lesson. Alessandro and I adopted a new vocabulary word, "barquitos," which is the same as la scarpetta in Italian. Barquito is literally a little ship but it is used for the action of wiping your plate clean of every last drop of sauce with pieces of bread. The six delectable dishes ordered by Manuel were devoured and finished off by our five little boats. Ten Euros per person filled our stomachs, our glasses and the hearts of Alessandro and myself. One trip to Spain and you'll quickly realize why its party atmosphere is world renowned.

A wonderful night was already behind us but even more lie ahead. The medieval section of Sevilla known as Alfalfa is now home to numerous bars and clubs of all types. We had our first taste of local chupitos (shots) in run down bars of cheap liquor. Boys were boys roaming around the streets of Sevilla playing and clowning around. We represented the nationality of our choice between Italian or American as we mingled with groups of girls. The area is filled with European Erasmus students allowing us to interact with girls from Spain, Italy, the Netherlands and more. We called the night early relative to Spanish standards and headed back to the hostel. Unfortunately, our French hostel mates must have taken in the student section of Alfalfa as well. The difference was in that we only consumed alcohol rather than narcotics. A fight almost broke out at nearly five in the morning but our eventful evening finally came to an end as we waited without sleep to welcome our first full day of sightseeing.

The Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede and the Reales Alcázares de Sevilla were two of the first stops. Along with the Giralda, these sites were awe inspiring. The Gothic cathedral is the fourth largest church in the world near the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe in sight of the Moorish Giralda began our enchanting tour of Sevilla. We viewed the Torre del Oro as we crossed the city and the river to find more vividly colorful buildings. As we were approaching the Plaza de España, Alessandro and I found ourselves in a bit of shock. We couldn't turn our heads for a second without being amazed with the beauty. There was even a point where I threw my hands in the air as if I couldn't take anymore of the shock. The Moors left there architectural mark of occupation contrasting against the Catholic history of Spain but the stark contrasts are nicely pieced together like an elegant piece of art. The colors were marvelous throughout the city but maybe nowhere as much as the Plaza de España. This square is one of the most majestic creations that I've ever seen. The reds, oranges, blues create a majestic color palate in the impressive square. Horses still patrol the inside as fountains and fountains sprayed in the foreground of my colorful photos. The creation of this plaza was a true work of art among the likes of Picasso.

Anticipation filled my mind as we fled south to Granada in the afternoon. Sevilla was a city of riches leading me to believe that Granada could only bring more. I was prepared for nothing less than one of the best trips of my life. I could have even returned to Italy that day as a happy man for the one day spent in Andalusia, but there was still more to come. Do not let this southern belle be overlooked on any trip to Spain.

Coca-Cola=2euro, agua=1euro, cerveza=1euro

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