A Splash of Orange – Seville in February

Written by Jane Critchley
(A Runner-up entry in the Travel for Seniors Writing Competition.)

Seville: Plaza de Espana
Plaza de España

Ok, what are we talking about here? For me, travel for seniors conjures up amazing places, plenty of walking to see those places, cafés and bars for local delicacies, a restoring drink and
relaxation. Plus no hassle. And I’m not too keen on discotheques. This year we cracked it!

Seville. This capital of oranges is the ideal destination for us seniors but don’t go in summer. February was beautifully warm and attracted just enough people to make the city vibrant but uncrowded.

Splash of oranges
Splash of oranges in every snap

Our hotel was economically out of town on the Avenida Kansas City (‘Heel, Toto’) where number 28 buses arrived at superbly regular intervals to set us down magically near the Plaza de España. This enormous public space is stunning and all the better for being relatively empty.

Lined with ceramic tiled niches and brilliant blue balustrades it kept my camera hands busy. As did those oranges. A splash of colour in every snap. We know that’s what seniors do most of the time. Make marmalade. So go to Seville!

We preferred to walk to the River Guadalquivir refusing offers of segway tours and rides in horse-drawn carriages. There was no pressure to accept. Great streams of excited but carefully supervised children on bikes enjoyed the pedestrianised centre.

The Triana Bridge leads across to the old ceramic workshops area. If you want a new house number, this is the place to buy one. Or a small dish for olives. Or a large dish for paella. Or a gaily coloured magnet to keep photos safe on the fridge.

Ceramic niche in Plaza de España
Ceramic niche in Plaza de España

At the end of the bridge on the top of a tower we spied a bar resplendent with white tablecloths flapping in the breeze. It looked expensive but our feet needed a rest. A €2 cervezita – beer – accompanied by a small bowl of olives and a view across the river to the bull ring was just the thing.

In the Arenal district we found El Postigo – an artisan market featuring pottery, jewellery and paintings. We already had a taste for Seville.

Now do I get straight on to the tapas or slip in our visit to the Alcázar? Maybe a bite to eat first.

Entrance to the Alcazar
Entrance to the Real Alcázar

You can’t just have one shot at tapas. There are too many types. Las Teresas in Santa Cruz served up Calamares Fritos, Pincho de Gambas and Espinacas. They do not do tapas portions and therefore it was a bit pricey. But it had to be done.

Another day we ate chorizo and Roquefort focaccia accompanied by squawking from green parrots flying high up in the palm trees. The presence of six policemen opposite maybe suggests that pick- pocketing has been a problem in the past.  And maybe still is in the more crowded summer months.

Even in February we queued for half an hour before entering the Real Alcázar, the Moorish palace of Seville. We did not realise what a treat awaited us. We are not normally known for enjoying traipsing at length round historic buildings. This one was the exception.

The decoration and the colours were fabulous. Exquisite rooms led to beautiful staircases led to decorative balconies with views over tranquil courtyards complete with goldfish swimming lazily in green waters.

Gardens in the Alcazar
Balcony in the Alcázar overlooking the gardens

Fantastic tiles adorned the walls, floors and ceilings. The stonework was intricately carved, some of it almost like lace.

And then came the gardens. The sunken gardens. The quiet patios. The small pavilion in the centre of one was the Pabellòn de Carlos V. And then the Patio de las Doncellas. The maidens. Gorgeous.

Our senior legs were flagging by now and we needed lots of sit downs. So did the royals apparently because there were dozens of convenient benches. Beautifully tiled of course.

Las Setas
Las Setas

When we found out that Carmen once worked at the Fàbrica de Tabacos we had to see where perhaps she once rolled cigars. The magnificent building now houses a university faculty. Anyone can stroll in and take a look. And anyone can stop off on the way back to the bus to sample Tapas del Dià.

Three days in Seville allowed us one final visit. Las Setas. The Mushrooms. Greeted by certain Sevillanos in a similar fashion as was the Pompidou Centre in Paris, this giant timber structure affords more super views over the city. It was a fair walk back to the tiny narrow streets of Santa Cruz but that’s what we like.

So is this the place for people with time on their hands? Definitivamento. Vámonos!

POSTED 13th AUGUST 2018 by STEVE HANSON on behalf of JANE CRITCHLEY. The fourth and sixth photographs were supplied by the author after the competition had been judged.

See also:
Andalusia Touring Holiday – Malaga, Ronda, Seville, Cordoba
Andalusia in April – Driving Holiday in Southern Spain