I had my first bank holiday off this year at the end of May so saw it as the perfect opportunity to spend a long weekend in a nearby city, Seville. What a stunning and colourful city it is! I was staying in Triana Backpackers (which has a very welcome - and clean - hot tub on its roof terrace) just south of the river, which meant crossing the beautiful Puente de Triana every time I wanted to head to the city centre.
Three days is enough to see most of Seville - I raked up a good 20,000 steps on my fitbit everyday I was there! I would recommend picking up a 'City Sightseeing Tour' map and making your own way around so you are carrying all the main tourist landmarks and points to see in your hand. Lonely planet also has a handy city guide that you can download for free which took me to the best meal of the weekend at the very popular tapas restaurant 'La Brunilda.' On the first evening the waiting time for a table was at least 90 minutes so I went back promptly before it opened for the lunch the next day instead - it was full within 5 minutes with a queue outside and when you taste the food... you'll know why.
Plaza de Espana, with it's surrounding Parque de Maria Luisa, is a place of heaven. Vivid colours and plants with beautiful ceramic detailing, and of course water features, made it a tranquil place to escape to and almost had you believe you were no longer in a busy, thriving city.
Real Alcazar de Sevilla's gardens were of a similar picturesque nature and the guided tour of the palace allowed me to avoid the long lengthy queue and really learn about the architecture and history without just wondering aimlessly around.
Having never been to a Bullfight before, I decided to purchase a ticket for a show one evening. Well... what can I say. How naive was I?! I had no idea what I had signed myself up for as I was very much under the impression that the bulls were no longer killed. I was shocked beyond belief that this still went on and my experience of the first 15 minutes was as follows: 'Is that blood? No, it can't be. It's just the ribbon flapping and shining in the breeze as it moves... although I don't remember it being dark red when it came into the ring. Wow, the bull is looking shiny, did the man on the horse just throw water over it to cool it down? How are those metal sticks attaching to the bulls back/neck... it must be velcro... that matador has a very good aim. Or maybe they're magnetic? Ooo, looks like the matador has hurt his leg. Unless that's stage blood? Yeh, it must be this is all just a performance surely. Amazing that the bull fell down on queue! What a well rehearsed piece of... oh no wait, what's with the sword?! WHAT am I watching?! None of this was a 'performance' it was all real?!?!'
I remained for the entirety of the show but from this point onwards did not applaud the teasing and torturing of the bull and merely watched as a spectator trying to take in and comprehend what was happening. I understand and respect that it is a Spanish tradition and upon leaving the ring, researched into it. I read that bulls who enter the ring are allowed to live for at least 1 year longer than those who don't. I am not a vegetarian so can not be a hypocrite and say that the killing of the mammal is wrong however I do not believe the circumstances in which the bull loses its life is right or humane. The way the matador very chauvinistically parades around the ring, presenting his crotch towards the bull in a stance of dominance and then after the slaying has been done, laps up the applause from those giving it to him was completely overwhelming and unbelievable to see. An experience I don't think I will ever forget but is certainly a 'once in a lifetime' moment for me and I shall not be going to one ever again.
The weather remained sunny with barely a cloud in the sky during the weekend which allowed for plenty of Spanish stops: eating churros, ordering tapas, having a glass of tinto de verano whilst basking in the heat of the city. I have to say, I didn't find the churros particularly nice but perhaps I've never had "traditional" churros before?!
I had driven to the city and had pre-paid parking in a secure underground car park just a 5 minute walk from the hostel. I highly recommend doing this as it massively knocked down the price and you know that your car is safe and on the outskirts of the bustling traffic giving you a quick and easy get out on departure. If you like traditional Spanish cities, add Seville to your list to visit, be prepared if you choose to attend a bullfight, and most of all... eat as much tapas as you can! Although I feel I managed to see a lot during my time there, it is definitely a city I see myself returning to.