To write a bucket list, one must first realize that their time will run out someday. It’s not always easy admitting this to ourselves. However, those who prepare leave knowing they are taking the best parts of the world with them.
Okay, okay, I’ll spare you the front seat ticket to “Kelsey’s Philosophies”! The point is I made a bucket list, but for Sevilla. There is so much to see in this city that I had never even heard of, and it was about time to get started.
This weekend was like Sevillan culture on steroids… and I may just be addicted.
The Triana Market
The Sevillan neighborhood of Triana dates back to Roman times and adorns what many consider the face of Sevilla. It sits nestled on the other side of the river from my home in El Centro, and the quaint bars and restaurants of Calle Betis create a classic Spanish horizon at the end of the Triana Bridge. On this bridge you can find locks with the names of enamored lovers written on them. Couples will come to the bridge to attach a lock, and then toss the key into the river as a symbol of locking their relationship into place.
Ahh, only in Europe….. But, Sevilla is ranked one of the most romantic cities in the world. Hey, maybe my prince charming is hidden between the pork shops and flamenco stores in this city. Just don’t come riding in on a white horse (see previous post…….)
The Triana Market is bustling with everything fresh! It is one of the places where you will feel like a true Spaniard, and it’s fun to imagine using the market as a grocery store every week. Products included everything like flowers, fruit, pig legs, fish, and pastries. Just a note of advice to the vegetarians or faint-hearted people out there: The meat in this market often still looks like an animal. This isn’t a prepackaged meat fridge in Savemart… and trust me, there’s no plastic wrap involved.
The Triana Ceramic District
Sevilla is known for its ceramics – and for good reason. These artists know quite a bit about what they’re doing. An entire street in Triana is dedicated to ceramic shops, and browsing will give you an entire new appreciation for the craft. The ceramics rang from items for the kitchen, to tiles representing religious scenes. Just be careful if you’re walking through the small shops… the ceramics are often crowded onto rickety shelves. It was enough to make me a little more than nervous about clumsiness.
El Castillo de San Jorge
Last stop in Triana: A castle! With these spotted all throughout Europe, I can imagine fairy tales began here. Unfortunately, this castle doesn’t necessarily follow the cheery Cinderella format. From 1481 until 1785, El Castillo de San Jorge was used as the seat of the Spanish Inquisition to reform the entire country to Catholicism. It served partly as a church, and mostly as a type of detention center for those who did not reform to the Catholic faith. Most of the Spaniards placed in the castle were Jews, but those of all religions other than Catholicism were sentenced to imprisonment there.
The museum that now is built upon the ruins of the Inquisition encourages visitors to reflect, and act as protagonists in the future when it comes to religious equality.
Oh, and there were tours in English. That means a thumbs up for this place.
Balance is good in life. It’s also good in shopping, and Sierpes Street seems to understand perfectly. This well-known shopping street in El Centro of Sevilla is known for its comfortable mixture of new, trendy shops with older and more classical ones. I set out to explore not only the street, but also a clock shop I had heard is 100 years old.
If you visit this place, be sure to set your watch to the right hour! Of all places, you can trust a 100-year-old clock shop. It seems to have withstood the test of time.
Palacio de Lebrija
“This lady was the best interior designer in the world!”
“I know, I want to learn from her!”
Anyone would say something similar after seeing this 16th Century palace that was renovated and designed by the Countess of Lebrija, Doña Regla Manjón. Passionate about Middle Eastern and Oriental designs, this Martha Stewart Jr. started decorating her home in 1901 and spent 13 years perfecting all that she could. Rooms include Moroccon furniture for smoking hookah and the pottery of Chinese royalty.
I can’t begin to describe the amount of detail this woman put into her home.
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures during this visit. But, I will never forget seeing a collection of coins and books dating to hundreds of years B.C. in one of the rooms. Yes, B.C. The work of those who lived and loved and fought just like we do, yet thousands of years before us. It’s a lot to let sink in.
Casa de Pilatos
Another palace!! I was about ready to get a tiara and a pretty dress and call it a day. Then I’d just need to pack my bags and move in… Nobody would mind, right?
This palace introduced Renaissance styles to Sevilla during the 15th century. It was created for the union of two families which had deep-rooted relationships with Italy, and thus flaunted much Roman-inspired decor. When we went through this palace, I felt like I had stepped out of Sevilla and into a completely different country.
The gardens were lush and dunked in colors bright enough to be sugary candies. There were quite a few people touring through the courtyards, yet the only sound was a resounding silence that spoke in awe for all of us.
And I had never even heard of Casa de Pilatos before making my bucket list… Thank goodness for that list.
Spent 8 Hours with Friends by the River
El Museo de Bellas Artes
I’m an absolute sucker for Impressionist art. I just love it. And the Museum of Fine Arts, within a has-been convent dating to 1612, is filled with impressionist art and much more. Walking through the museum, I softly played music through my iPod and realized how much I loved a day like this. Art, sunshine, your favorite song. It was all more than perfect.
Outside of the Museo de Bellas Artes, there is an art market every Sunday morning. Artists from all over Sevilla bring their “obras” to sell, and there is something for everyone. Prices range from 5 Euro to the hundreds, and style ranges from the eclectic unrecognizable to the standard classics of Spanish art.
At the market, I smiled when I saw an Impressionist painting of a little girl staring off into the distance in a flamenco dress. Her suit was red and flowing, and matched a buoyant red bow in her brown locks. It was my favorite piece, because it made me think about myself as a little girl and how different my world was.
Although admittedly not all little girls in Spain dress up in flamenco dresses, it’s funny to think how her upbringing and culture will make that little girl either similar or different from me. She will grow up eating bocadillos de jamón york while I was provided nutrition with PB&J sandwiches for years. She will learn tales of Spanish “conquistadores” while I learned about American revolutionary heroes. Yet at one point we were both just little girls. We both wanted to dress up and pretend to be something we couldn’t be quite yet. Our dresses were just a little different.
I guess we’ll never know how much that changed the rest of us.
Spaniards know how to be Catholic. There are Catholic churches dotted amongst the streets, and most are hundreds of years old. The interiors of these churches are astounding, and church-goers are crowded amonst incredibly detailed sculptures of Saint Mary and Jesus crisped with gold and silver adorations.
Because of this, I told myself I wanted to attend a service before I left. I smiled as I realized the church traditions remain the same. People wished peace upon each other, yet instead of shaking hands to do so they kissed each other’s cheeks. They received Communion, yet with a blessing of a different language. They listened to the teachings of good values, which tend to be universal.
And, the prayers that I was taught for so many years were exactly the same… but in Spanish. I suppose that when those of us who pray speak to our God, we’re asking for the same things. We’re looking for answers and asking for favors.
And all the while we’re hoping we’re speaking to a God that speaks every language.
Worked on Homework While Floating
Yet again, why not? A friend and I took the books to a floating cafe/bar on the river. We bought ice-cold, hot pink smoothies and sat on a table over looking the peaceful water. We smiled. Sometimes life seems to good to be true, and sometimes you feel like you’re watching yourself twirl through what should be reserved for movies.
Maybe I’m a bit dramatic. But hey, every day in Sevilla seems like a movie to me. So maybe I’m cut out for it.