Monday, January 21, 2008

Me encanta Sevilla

I have been in Sevilla for almost two weeks and in some ways it feels like I haven't seen half of it and in others it feels like I have been here forever. Thanks for the friendly prodding from a few of you to keep blogging. It has been kind of a challenge for me to get in the reflective mindset that blogging often necessitates (at least for me), but I know you're not asking for the here it goes.

Very simply, I love Sevilla. I love the incredible vibrancy of this city, the colors of the buildings and the sky along the river at sunset, getting lost in the windy streets of barrio Santa Rosa, the fashionista Sevillanos, the enormous parques, the uneven tempo of the day and week, the cafe fuerte (Amy you would love it), the constant walking, the month long city-wide "day-after-thanksgiving-like" sale (rebajas), copas (drinks) any time of the day or night, the buzzing discos in the wee-est hours of the morning, the most adorable ninos you have ever seen, the guapos (hay muchisimo;), the bell at my language school, the fact that Friday night I was in a piso with a Mexican, a Spaniard, Danish girls, Belgian boys, Icelandic girls, a British boy, Germans...and was the only American (and the only person who could speak less than 3 languages) in the room, the tapas, the periwinkle sky at twilight (never seen anything like it) the siestas, the distinctly Sevillan spanish- short and sweet, the Spanish (in general) who speak the same language as the latinos but with the passion and energy of the Italianos...todos Bellisimo!

Last week I moved in with a Sevillano named David. He is such a fun guy, great energy, talks to/knows everyone in this city, and so nice! He owns three businesses in Sevilla: a finance/consulting company, a tourist/Spanish fusion company called We Love Spain, and a bar called El Duende. I was directed to We Love Spain by Mara's roommate who said they may be able to help me with housing, school, job, whatever I decided (I'll explain more about their business in another post- pretty cool idea though).

David's girlfriend, Elizabeth, who is from Redondo Beach originally, co-owns We Love Spain and she hooked me up with a room in David's piso (apt.). It's typically Spanish, which means out-of-date, muchas cosas no funcionas, y hay un perro- no me le gusta...but David and Liz are so sweet, we have had so much fun together, and regardless of the ever depreciating dollar, it's still really cheap!

I'm posting a few random photos. I am seriously not a photog...I never use my camera. I think I have a lot of difficulty shattering the experience with a camera...even after seeing great use of candid shooting from friends, it still separates me...and I am so IN it right now. I think that is why I haven't blogged as well. As much as writing can add to an experience, I think it takes away a bit of the magic for me. Haha...I'm so dramatic. No te preocupas...I will keep blogging, if only to add to the experience by hearing from you all! :)

Top center- bottom right is the bridge I walk across every morning to school and any time I go to el centro (a lot)

Middle- I bought two pairs of black boots in one day- Rebajas- what's a chica to do!? (still can't rotate image, bah! oh well) *note: the incredible color of the sky at twilight

Bottom- Mara, Samara, y yo outside David's bar El's 3:30 we're giddy and it's closed :)

Besos! (cheek/cheek kisses)

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Sevillianos have a unique way of speaking Spanish. They shorten and/or combine most common words and they use the classic Spanish lisp. So....gracias (which was even hard for me to convert to from grazie) becomes gracia, but sounds like grathia. And that's just the beginning!

This city is so beautiful, and much nicer weather than Florence was...50-60's and blue skies at least half the day! :) Most of the streets are lined with the famous (although I never made the connection) Sevillian oranges. I was so surprised that people don't pick them, but Mara told me that they are actually quite bitter so they stay on the trees until spring, at which point, the city collects them and makes jam. Nice little revenue source for the city and so pretty to look at!

I have been so blessed so far in my travels because in each place I go (Florence and now Sevilla) I have had wonderful friends to pick me up at the airport, give me a place to sleep, and show me around! It really takes so much of the stress out of traveling. My friend Mara, who I am staying with now, is working for the Spanish government teaching English in local schools. She has students from preschool to high school level. Yesterday evening I got to go with her to a 5-6th grade class and help her teach! It was so much fun!

Today, I went on a language school/apartment/job search and found a local business (started by a California girl and her Spanish boyfriend- We Love Spain) that is going to help me find all three!

So...about these photos...yesterday when Mara and I were strolling around El Centro and the Barrio Santa Cruz we came across a strike in front of city hall. The carriage drivers that take people on tours of the city stood all of their horses in front of city hall so that they would crap all over the sidewalk and express their dissatisfaction se'. How funny is that! And of course, the riot police turned out for the intense rebellion! Mara and I just appreciated the dark handsome men in uniform and laughed at all the horse turds. :)

And then this morning, Mara brought in the newspaper with the exact same photo I took! I guess I'm not the only one that found it amusing. ;)

Time for tapas y siesta! Buenos tardes!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Ciao Ciao!

I absolutely fell in love with this city all over again yesterday. After a really late night...Abby, Greg and I found some Italians to escort us to a disco called YAB, where we danced until 4 am!...A&G were really tired, so I slipped out to let them sleep and took myself on a little adventure.

I had planned to go to the Uffizi, but being that it was a rainy Sunday, that was the place to be and I couldn't bear a 45 minute line. I walked to the Duomo, thinking I might climb the tower again, but it was closed for noon mass. I really wanted to go to mass, but it was full, so I kept walking. I head across the Ponte Vecchio back to where the Palace gardens are and on my way found a little chapel, where I ducked in just a few minutes late for mass and took a spot in the back. Although I could understand very little, it was a moving experience listening to all the voices melodic chants...always ending in Jesus Christo, amen. That's all the commonality we need anyway. It was beautiful.

I ventured back out into the rain again and found my way to a rather lonely park on this dreary day. It took me back into this little community on the hill, which I think was mainly housing for military families...and I'm pretty sure I wasn't supposed to be there, but the people were friendly enough. I then continued to traipse across town, thoroughly soaked by now, and spotted a fort up on a far hill. I decided I wanted to go there and spent the next two hours hiking through a gorgeous, peaceful nature preserve with a view of olive tree orchards and quintessential Italian villas from the very top. I didn't see another soul for all of that time, which was wonderful. I love finding the unique places in cities where you forget entirely where you are. Forget the Duomo, the Uffizi, the Ponte Vecchio, this is by far my favorite part of least in those moments.

Coming down from the hill I assumed I would be pretty lost, but I found my way directly back to the Arno and quickly back to the hotel. I showered and hung all my clothes and then head out into the city for some lunch with Abby and Greg. I had my first true kebab (essentially a Turkish burrito with mystery meat) and it was delicious. We spent some time relaxing and then head out to our favorite restaurant from the other night for Nelo (the bossy, but entirely gregarious owner) and his fabulous pizza. One of the things I love about little restaurants here is if you talk to your server or the owner even for a couple minutes, you are family. Even though we had finished a liter of wine between the three of us already, Nelo would not let us leave until we had a shot of Limoncello, on the house, of course. We had a night cap of gelato and paid our respects to JJ's Cathedral (the heralded American bar), which we found entirely too American...and called it a night.

I'm hopping on a train to Pisa this afternoon. I'll post again when I get to Espana! Ciao Ciao!

Friday, January 4, 2008


After arriving in Florence at noon on the 2nd, I spent most of the afternoon relaxing with Abby and Greg in their sweet apartment and fighting off the jet lag. I didn't sleep much on the plane because I was sitting next to this fascinating Yogi from Iran. He spent hours telling me about various levels of human potential, levitation, meditation and the basics, like home-made cheese (he wouldn't touch the airplane food). He was on his way to an Ashram in the Himalayas to study with his Teacher. I told him about the recent chick lit hit Eat, Pray, Love and my fascination with Ashrams. He just smiled. Oh, simple mind. Anyway, I have a hook up in India if any of you want to go. ;)

It has been so fun and relaxing to hang out with "locals" here in Florence. My last tour of Italy was phenomenal, but the 4 day per city tempo lent to a pretty packed schedule and I have been so happy to hang out, stroll about town, visit their favorite eateries and stomping grounds, eat pasta, gelato, walk, rest, and then repeat it all over again a few hours later. :) Last night we hiked up to this incredible view of the city that I somehow missed last time I was here. After that, I convinced them to wander with me for a while until we found a restaurant that was "off the beaten path", should we say? The 45 minute walk proved so worth it as we finally stumbled upon a place with smoked window doors and a non-descript sign "Antica Porta." It was phenomenal. Napoli style pizzas, a liter of wine for 7e, and two desserts later we happily made the hour long trek back to the apartment.

Today Abby and Greg have to move out of the apartment (thank God, their Brazilian roommate has returned from Paris, with drunken early morning antics and all) so we are all moving to a hotel on the Arno. It's amazing how cheap it is on the off-season! I have to make the trip back to the airport to get my bags. They were supposed to deliver them here by yesterday morning (they were lost in Chicago), but when they had not arrived by 3 I started calling the airport incessantly and all they would do was hang up on me! Abby told me it's a right of passage. How I love Italy. ;)

p.s. I have no camera cord, plus, let's face it, I am a terrible camera I stole these. :)