First impressions don’t always win the day!
Putting it out there right away: we fell in love with Seville.
If it takes only a few seconds for first impressions to hit then we shouldn’t have, really. Arriving in baking midday heat, we decided on a taxi (public transport was possible but confusing and hey, we are on holidays!) Alas, so it seemed were the taxi drivers – well, on strike, anyway. This presented a challenge and prompted anxious googling (thank God I bought a sim card in Madrid). Cabify drivers didn’t appear to be in the union though; one duly came to the rescue. Again, some mild concern when our booked and paid for driver arrived and three other tourists tried to steal him. Matters were not improved by me tripping, falling in the gutter, and cursing loudly in my indignant haste to reclaim our prize. Happily, our cheery, chatty driver Roberto was not swayed by the clamor. Restoring our faith in humanity, he re-piqued our interest with his immense enthusiasm for his adopted city (he’d migrated from South America). He soon had us at our home for the next 3 nights, replete with travel hints.
But how to get in? The next potential sour note was the saga of the keys. We knew what floor, and what number. The lobby was cool, dark, and utterly uninformative. At length, we gave in and I bravely prepared to phone the host contact – of all our Booking.com locations this was the only one that didn’t direct message for some reason. Everything had come via email (including as it turned out, the one I never got with the crucial instructons). I translated some suitable passages and practised quickly, then dialled away. Fortunately the gracious lady on the other end understood my fumbling Spanish and had some English. We soon discovered there was a cleverly hidden-in-plain-sight key box and before long we were bouncing merrily up 3 flights to our lovely little studio. OK, bouncing is a stretch, unless you count the wheelie duffel thumping on each step. But we had made it! (Again, thank God I bought a sim card).
By now it was well on the far end of the extended Spanish lunch time and heading for siesta… and we were ravenous. Discovering a local market around the corner, we hunted high and low for someone still open. We’d all but given up when down an unprepossessing aisle we found the best pizza we had in Spain. Cheap into the bargain and handmade by the most laid back chef we’d seen – casually waving us to take a bar table, help ourselves to the cooler of beer and soda, and relax. Soon we were chowing down alla Matriciana and heaping thanks on our host.
Replete, we wandered back out and to our joy there was also a landromat in the market. A timely blessing; our studio had a drying rack but not a washing machine. As I was pactising packing light, I had already earned some stripes in sink-washing my smalls. Still, I’d brought extra pre-pilgrimage clothes and most of them (and husband’s) really required a serious scrub in the near future. We earmarked it for later.
Returning to our apartment for a belated siesta, we were dumbstruck by an unusual storefront. The name translates to something about groceries and gifts – we weren’t quite sure where our Lord fits in. Perhaps the name of the owner or street or area? Of course we created our own name for it (not very respectfully), and it became our ‘almost home’ landmark.
Once we woke from our restorative nap, it was back out for a stroll along the waterfront. Seville sits on the Guadalquivir river, with a portion of the city between two arms and several dramatic bridges back and forth. Ambling happily down the spacious boulevard, we drank in the savour of a new city.
Spotting a number of boats and people boarding them, we did something quite uncharacteristic (for me) and decided on the spot to join them. Usually such a purchase would require me googling for more info, conparing options… but not today, for I threw caution to the gentle Spanish winds. On we went for an hour river cruise. Soon I realised what a good snap decision this was: we’d be cruising through golden hour and sunset. The boat was full, lively, and everyone kept popping up for pictures (including me, with more or less success). We passed perilously close underneath intricate bridges of new and old design, marvelled at the skyline, and waved vigorously at passers-by gongoozling.
A splendid end to our first day in Seville, and I feel in my bones that this place is going to be special. I think we might be falling in love…