When my husband and I decided to go to Spain, we carefully planned out which sites to see, which shops to visit (Ryan says I have to be “carefully managed” in this respect) and the best restaurants to pig out at. We aren’t the types to have everything scheduled right by the second, but Ryan definitely is the man with the plan.
Upon touching down in Malaga after departing Barcelona, we rented a snazzy BMW SUV (living’ life!) and drove to my cousin’s home in gorgeous Sotogrande. On the way there, Ryan told me that Seville was pretty close by and we should definitely make a day trip out there. We were on the fence before, but the drive to Marbella and Sotogrande was so pretty, we decided to do it.
That morning, we had a quick look at a guide book, decided that we wanted to definitely see the Casa de Pilatos, the lovely 15th century palace of the Dukes of Medinacelli. It looked gorgeous and totally instagrammable, along with having a very interesting history. That was it. The only plan we made before hitting the road.
The drive to Seville was stunning. Picture rolling hills, olive groves, wind turbines dotting the hillside (strangely beautiful) and nothing but bright blue sky.
After the pretty two-hour drive, we sailed into the city. Ryan and I strolled around, marvelling at both the stunning Spanish Renaissance and modern architecture. We ended up in Seville’s lively shopping district which made me pretty happy. I made a beeline for Intimissimi, a luxurious Italian lingerie company. While I snapped up all of the pieces I didn’t buy in London, Ryan checked out restaurants spots for lunch.
We found a little seafood spot nestled away in one of Seville’s little side streets. Most of the patrons were speaking Spanish, so we felt this was a good sign. Ordering up two cavas, we perused the menu while sitting on the sunny patio and ordered some fresh anchovies marinated in lemon, salt and olive oil, along with fresh bread, baby squid and paella. We marvelled at how these simple dishes were so fresh and flavourful, and to this day, I will never get used to how amazing (and inexpensive) the cava is in Spain.
After finishing up, we got our stroll back on. Within minutes, we were in Seville’s Old Quarter, staring up in awe at the Metropol Parasol, a behemoth of a modern, wooden structure.
The Metropol Parasol is a weird, mushroom-shaped structure dreamt up by renown architect Jürgen Mayer. It just so happens to be the largest wooden structure in the world. The underground level is the Antiquarium – where Roman and Moorish remains are on display to the public. Also, go up to the second and third levels which offer some of the best views of the city.
Ryan and I continued on to Casa de Pilatos – a highlight of this trip. This Andalusian palace for which descendants of the original Dukes still live in, is breathtaking. There are Arabic influences everywhere, from the colourful mosaics to the large wooden doors. Its grand gardens are beautiful, featuring ponds, lush flowers and trees. We took a guided tour of the palace, and marvelled at the 600-yr-old tapestries, paintings and other fine objets decorating the family’s home. To say the Casa de Pilatos is “opulent”, is an understatement.
After our tour, we found a little restaurant and I indulged in more cava while Ryan the Designated Driver sipped sparkling water and asked “where to next?”.
I noticed a beautiful park in the distance and thought it would be nice to wander through. Turns out is was Maria Luisa Park, the centuries-old garden of the San Telmo Palace. It was beautifully maintained – a gardener’s dream! Replete with ancient trees, beautiful fountains and a large pond full of swans, it was completely romantic and beautiful.
The park led us to the absolutely immense Catedral de Santa Maria de la Sede, one of the world’s largest Gothic cathedrals. I gasped when it came into view. It was originally built in 1502 on top of a mosque, for which the mosque’s towering minaret, The Giralda still stands. Strikingly beautiful! Within, there were priceless paintings and apparently Columbus’ tomb resides within. Be sure to check out the cathedral’s patio which is flanked by rows of lovely orange trees. You can also climb the Giralda to the top for amazing views of the entire city.
Our day trip to Seville remains one of the most memorable trips of my life. It was wonderful and freeing to roam around this beautiful town without a schedule to follow. To stumble onto treasures like the Maria Luisa Park and the cathedral was adventurous and fun! And for me, made it that much more meaningful – that much more awesome of a getaway.
Have you ever taken and trip and didn’t make a schedule or list of must-sees? How did it turn out?