Three Days in Sevilla

Plaza Virgen de Los Reyes, Seville, Spain
[et_pb_section bb_built=”1″ next_background_color=”#000000″][et_pb_row][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_text] Plaza de Espana, Sevilla

When it comes to trip planning, what’s your style? Do you like a structured itinerary or do you prefer to keep things wide open?

My first trip to Europe was a fully escorted tour of Scotland. It was the easiest trip I’ve ever planned (choosing a country was the only decision I had to make). I loved Scotland, especially the Highlands, but the guided tour concept wasn’t for me. The following year when I went to Paris, I decided to take care of the details myself. I spent months researching beforehand, then drew up a schedule that was so jam-packed with cooking classes, gourmet shopping, food tours, and sightseeing that I came home exhausted. Happy, but exhausted. Learning from my mistake, I left myself plenty of time to stop and savor the gelato in Italy. I booked a few cooking classes and food tours, but nothing else. The time I spent wandering through the streets of Florence with no destination in mind was like a Renaissance dream – magical – but I returned home with regrets, not the least of which was a missed opportunity to shop at the San Lorenzo leather market!

In just a few days, I’m off on another culinary escapade, this time to Portugal and Spain. With 24 days, two countries, inter-city travel between Lisbon, Sevilla, Valencia, and Barcelona, accommodations in all four cities, and excursions to Cadiz, Jerez, Cordoba, Ronda and Tarragona this is my most ambitious trip to date. Thank goodness I met Amanda Jennison, owner/operator of These Gypsy Feet Spanish Food Tours. Amanda leads small group and private tours in Andalucía’s leading destination, Sevilla. She also creates gorgeous personalized itineraries for independent travelers.

Here’s a sneak peek at the three-day itinerary she crafted for me.

Customized itinerary from These Gypsy Feet

Amanda got her start as a high school Spanish teacher. When she tired of riding herd on recalcitrant teens, she decided to combine her dual passions of travel and food. These Gypsy Feet was launched in 2013. Amanda considers herself a triple threat where food is concerned– she excels at cooking, eating, & nursing food babies.

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¡Bienvenido/a a Sevilla!

This is one of my favorite cities in the world for many reasons, but mostly because to me it has the perfect mix of history, culture, food, and friendliness. I hope you will feel as welcome here as I always have.

Before I lay out your itinerary for Day 1, I want to say this – Sevilla is a city that rewards wandering at whatever pace you are comfortable with. While this is true for much of Spain, I find it to be particularly significant here.

Things often don’t get going in the morning until 9 or 10, with people taking a coffee break shortly thereafter. Lunches begin at 2 pm and are still long and leisurely, even if you are dining alone (I recently spent 2 hours having lunch at a hotel—no one batted an eyelash). The afternoon is for strolling, sleeping, or perhaps taking in an “early” film at 6 pm. The streets come alive again around 8 pm, with restaurants filling up between 8:30 and 9:00, and people staying out to play until 1 or 2 am. As a guest here, I hope that you will take advantage both of the hours to rest, and of the hours to play. Here, perhaps more than anywhere else I have been, life is lived on the street.

The best advice I can give you for your stay is this: Don’t hurry, and always look in open doors.

Day 1

  • Food shopping at Mercado de la Encarnación
  • Las Setas
  • Walking/Tram tour of the Center to get oriented
  • PM: Reales Alcazares/Walk through Barrio Santa Cruz
  • Tapas Tour
Depending on what time you arrive you might be interested in catching the free walking tour that leaves from the Puerta de Jerez around 11 am (reservations recommended but not required).

First things first, though: Food shopping! Qué suerte tienes (How lucky you are), that the closest market to your apartment is the Mercado de la Encarnación. I love this market—not only for the food but for the ambiance. All the stalls still look new (this space just opened a few years ago), and there are some wonderful pictures from the nearly 40 years that the market spent in its old location.

Don’t bother with a market tour—just walk in, look around, and then when you see what you want you approach, smile, and use gestures or Google Translate to get what you need. I am consistently delighted by the food prices in Sevilla—the last time I went to the market with a few friends we spent a grand total of about 20€ and had an absolute feast of bread, cheese, chorizos (get the good stuff!), jamón, fruit, and more. You can eat like a Queen, and since it’s only about a 7-minute walk from Corral del Rey you could go every day if you wanted to! If you take the route via Calle Pérez Galdós it will take you past a supermarket in the Plaza de la Alfalfa called SuperSol, where you can pick up any ordinary little extras that you can’t get at Encarnación.

You’ll see when you get to the market that it’s housed inside Las Setas (the mushrooms), the fanciful name given to the Espacio Metropol Parasol by some locals who didn’t quite like the look of the place. I rather enjoy it, because it has something of an Alice in Wonderland feel to it. If you’re ready to get your first bird’s eye view of the city you can go down the stairs to your left as you are facing the entrance to the market (with Calle Imágen behind you), pay 3€ and take an elevator up to the top to walk around the Parasols. There are interpretive signs describing what you’re looking at, and your ticket gets you a free drink at the bar. It’s very pleasant to sit on the terrace there and contemplate Sevilla from above.

From the same entrance where you ascend to Las Setas, you can also enter a fascinating museum called the Antiquarium (2,10€ for non-EU citizens, free admission with a same-day ticket from the Alcazar). This has to be one of my favorite museums in Sevilla, both for what is there and how it came to be. Back in the 90s, they were eyeing this space as a potential underground parking lot. When they began to excavate, however, they discovered Roman ruins (a pretty common occurrence in Sevilla). These ruins, however, were particularly well preserved and showed what a neighborhood would have felt like. They also have the remains of a factory where Garum was made (the fishy sauce that Romans ate like soy sauce). Really cool stuff. Combined with state of the art touch-panel displays and an open floor plan, it really gives you a sense of what it would have felt like to walk through the streets of Hispalis in the 1st-4th centuries. (Closed Mondays)

After you drop off your delicious finds at your apartment, it’s time to venture back out. The historic part of Sevilla is quite easy to get around just on foot, and the apartment that you are staying in is only about a 5-minute walk from the Cathedral. The first time you walk there from your apartment I recommend that you go via Calle Abades and Calle Mateos Gago—there will be quite a view to admire from the top of the street into the Plaza Vírgen de Los Reyes.

Plaza Virgen de Los Reyes, Seville, Spain

From here you can continue on in either direction—to your left will take you towards the Plaza del Triunfo and the Reales Alcazares. You re-enter the maze of streets that make up the Barrio Santa Cruz by crossing through the Patio de las Banderas (behind the Alcazar) and into the Judería. The street will seem like a cave at first, but when it opens up back onto the street you’ll be delighted. Make sure to have a map, your GPS, and your sense of humor when walking in Santa Cruz—it’s very easy to get lost, although it will usually only be for a moment. If it feels totally hopeless, my trick is to sit and have a coffee at the nearest café, and then ask the waiter where to go.

If you go right from the Plaza Vírgen de Los Reyes it will take you towards the Plaza Nueva, the City Hall, and the main shopping streets (Tetuan, Sierpes, and Cuna). All three of these streets are worth exploring, and if you are there during the right time (from 10:00-14:00 and again from 17:30-20:00) they will be packed with Spaniards going about their shopping. Always lots to see and look at. At the far end of Calle Sierpes from the Plaza Nueva is a charming little confitería (sweets shop) called La Campana. It makes a perfect spot to sit at an outside table and sip on something delicious while you do some people watching (and rest your feet from all that shopping!).

My suggestion? Take the tram and do it all! Begin by walking to the left towards the Plaza del Triunfo as discussed earlier, then catch the tram (tranvía) at any of the stops and ride back to Plaza Nueva. Then continue as if you had turned right. At the moment there is only one tram and all it does is go back and forth, so just hop on and then hop off again when you see something interesting. It goes from the Plaza Nueva down the Avenida de la Constitución where it stops in front of the Archivo de Indias (and the Cathedral), on to the Prado de San Sebastian (near the Hotel Alfonso XIII), and ends at the San Bernardo train station, which is quite near the Plaza de España. Tram cost 1,20€ per journey.

After all the morning site seeing you are sure to be hungry, and there are lots of places to eat right around the Cathedral. One of my absolute favorites is Bar Antigüedades (Calle Argote de Molina, 34). Grab a table on the sidewalk and let their friendly waiters take care of you—they are happy to talk to you in English or let you practice your Spanish. It’s hard to choose my favorites from their menu, but here are a few good bets: the boquerones en vinagre (fresh anchovies marinated in vinegar, peppers, and red onion), the alcachofas a la plancha (grilled artichokes, a description which does not do this plate justice!), the solomillo al whisky (tender chunks of pork in a delightful whisky sauce, served with roasted garlic cloves and French fries), and the croquetas de Jamón (which reminded me of the ones my host mother made, with just a hint of nutmeg). They will also likely have a menu del día – these meals generally include 2 courses, bread, a drink, and dessert. The average price for one of these meals is 8 or 9€, anything more than that is pushing it.

A Word on Ordering Wine: If you know what kind of wine you like it is better to ask for it by name (Rioja, Tempranillo, Ribera del Duero being the most common, and usually the best) and see if they understand you than to order a vino tinto or vino blanco, which will often result in an inferior wine that they tend to use in mixed drinks like Tinto de Verano (red wine mixed with lemon bubbly water) or Rebujito (Sherry with either 7-up or lemonade, depending on where you are). Since they will likely charge you the same for the “good” wine, you might as well drink it! Of course, you can always ask for the Carta de Vinos (wine menu) and point at whatever sounds good. For whites, you will generally find a smaller selection available. Remember that seco means dry and dulce means sweet.

You are quite close to your apartment here, and also to an ice cream shop in the Barrio Santa Cruz that I love (Chocolate y Limón, Pasaje de Vila). You can get a small cone for around 2,50€, in a variety of flavors. Their stracciatella is my favorite because it has a slight orange flavor—and is quite light for an ice cream. I like to take my cone and sit in the Plaza Vírgen de Los Reyes, taking in the Giralda and the people.

This afternoon, visit the Reales Alcazares. Well worth a visit if you have any interest in gardens, it is also the oldest continuously inhabited royal palace in Europe—still used by the King and Queen of Spain when they vacation in Sevilla. The gardens are only open until 17:00, and you’ll want 1.5-2 hours to explore, so I would recommend that you go right after lunch. (9,50€; enter at the door off of Calle Joaquin Romero Murube next to the Archivo de Indias).

Tonight, I recommend that you go on a Tapas tour. I recommend Shawn Hennessey of Azahar Sevilla – in fact, I can’t recommend her highly enough. Known around town as the “Queen of Tapas”, Shawn is a transplant from Winnipeg who found her way to Sevilla 20-some odd years ago. She began doing tours only in the last few years, but she has earned her crown—all the barkeeps know her, love her, and enjoy having her groups in their establishments. You need to book with her in advance, and the price fluctuates depending on what kind of tour you choose and how many other people are going, but she is super easy to work with through email and an absolute pleasure to hang out with in person! Visit www.azahar-sevilla.com and tell her I sent you!

Regardless of who you do a tapas tour with, I encourage you to do it early in your stay—preferably the first night. It will set you up for dining out in Sevilla with confidence for the rest of your trip.

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Hotels in Seville

Looking for somewhere to stay for your trip to Sevilla? Try the Las Casas del Rey de Baeza which is a sophisticated and chic boutique hotel built in the 18th century. A roof top plunge pool and beautiful Andalusian courtyards are only rivaled by the Andalusian cuisine served in its restaurant. Guests can enjoy an Iberian Ham Tasting with their tapas!

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Isn’t that fantastic? And that’s just Day 1! Amanda’s customized itineraries are chockfull of goodies, including a phrasebook designed to give you the basics, along with cultural tips and pronunciation guides.

Be sure to check back and see how I’ll be spending Day 2 and Day 3! Plans include a cooking class, mini food walk, and an exciting day trip to the ancient seaside city of Cadiz.

Cadiz, Spain

So what’s your trip planning style? Are you an obsessive planner, a free-wheeling-fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants-kind of traveler, or somewhere between?

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Laura Goyer is a world traveler and culinary travel professional, on a mission to help busy prime-time women find the best local food when they travel.
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3 thoughts on “Three Days in Sevilla

  1. Murissa says:

    How helpful! I’ve always wondered about people like Amanda who offer these kind of services. I can’t wait to see what kind of foodie adventures you get into!

    Did you use a particular apartment vacation rental website? I am planning a trip to England & Germany for 2016 (I know, a long ways off) and am considering apartments once again.

    Have a great time Laura!

  2. Dina says:

    Wow, what a fantastic itinerary. I used a similar service in Paris recently that lead me through very interesting and less obvious foodie stops. Laura, your trip is so exciting. Can’t wait to read about it.

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