Great things about Spain, Seville

Visit Seville, or else…

After last week’s blog titled Nutters in Seville, I want to make it clear that I do actually love the city I’ve chosen as my home, and that despite its downfalls there are plenty reasons to visit, and even live, in Seville.

I’d like to stay clear of the obvious reasons that anyone could find out with a quick search on google, such as the marvellous weather, the impressive cathedral, and the breath-taking festivals: Semana Santa and the Feria. I want to dig deeper, and let anyone interested in visiting Seville just what you can expect.

seville-sevilla
Beauty… Photo by Calvo Pastor

Azahar

If someone was to take off my nose and ask me what smell I’d missed most about Seville, then I’d definitely say azahar, the orange blossom that comes out at the start of spring, normally just in time for Semana Santa. For me it’s not just the lovely sweet smell that the orange blossom gives off around the city, but the memories that it sparks.

I started to fall in love with the smell of azahar around the time when I fell in love with my wife. I still remember our first Semana Santa, where she started to open up and show me the real her and what drove her passion in life.

I also remember the year my Dad visited and my father-in-law had the decency to pick off some orange blossom near plaza San Pedro, wrap it up in a box. He gave it to my Dad, so my mother could experience the richness and special smell of the city and festival too. As the azahar was packed in the box for eight hours, when my mum opened it up the smell exploded from the box. My Mum was speechless, which was probably a first.

My recent memories are of the week when our daughter was born, during Semana Santa. The first time we walked with her around the city, when she was all cute and snug in her pram, we were knackered from not sleeping, but content that she was in the world. I remember sniffing the air, and being filled with life as azahar shot up my nose and made me feel proud of the baby we’d made.

Romance

Having come from living and teaching English in Bangkok, my exposure to romance had been stolen from me. There it’s frowned upon to show affection in public places, and no, ping pong shows don’t count. It was a cold and sad way of living, the complete opposite to Seville, where you can see the love being felt on a daily basis.

Seville is a very coupley place. I don’t know many people who stick it out here for long if they don’t get snapped up by a local, or fall in love with a fellow English teacher. A lot of people I’ve met over the years have found it too coupley, and have commented that they find being single here a bit weird. They just didn’t fit in, and I can imagine that.

Everywhere you go here, couples in love are walking about, kissing, holding hands, and being proud of the person by their side. This makes it an upbeat, happy and romantic place to visit. So what are you waiting for? Maybe you could meet your future partner here as well.

Beauty

Sure, it’s cheesy, but the longer I stay here, the more I realise just how beautiful the city is. Now that I’ve moved out of the centre, I appreciate it more as I don’t have to put up with the annoying aspects too much.

Where I live now it’s pretty dull. You don’t get many tourists wandering about, although there is a great hotel in Cuidad Expo  if you want to get a feel for village life. There are less shops, less people, less traffic, and less everything. But it’s a family area, which is exactly what we were looking for.

When I go back in the city, normally at the weekend, I appreciate just how pretty the centre is. Not only am I talking about the buildings, parks, and colourful centre, but also the bright churches, the flowers, and the people.

Most Sevillanos make a real effort to go out, in fact, they wouldn’t dream of popping up the shops in their pyjamas or taking their dog out for a quick walk in their track suit bottoms. Of course, you have the slightly hippie and bohemian area such as the Alameda and Calle Feria (which I loved while I lived there) but in general people make an effort to look the bee’s knees, and show the rest of the world that their image is important.

Safety

I was done over a few times while travelling, but I’ve never had any problems while living in Seville. The only times I’ve felt unsafe were after my bikes got stolen. In general I’ve always felt secure, both in the day and at night, walking around on my own in the centre. There’s a happy atmosphere, people are generally kind to each other, and you’ll rarely get into trouble while on holiday here.

That’s not to say you shouldn’t take care. My sister swears she had her purse stolen while walking down Calle Sierpes, I’ve heard of travellers and expats being mugged in the early hours of the morning too. Also guys stealing handbags while driving about on scooters in the centre of the city, so by all means, be adventurous, but take it easy.

Tradition

The more I live here, the more I realise just how important it is to preserve tradition in a city. I am big fan of Semana Santa, and am proud to say I’m a member of a brotherhood here, so I can participate in the processions. I’ve learnt a lot about the tradition of Seville, about the past, and just how important this festival is for the locals. I understand why too. I know that the value of the Christs and Virgins, which are so well preserved in the churches, are icons, giving belief to locals. The longer I’m here the more I appreciate how much passion is involved in keeping this culture’s importance. Grandparents teach their grandchildren their values, share memories, and educate their family on the beauty of the festival. I think it’s great that these values are passed on and remain an importance in the society.

It’s a long time since I’ve been to a flamenco tablao, but that was another reason why I fell in love with Seville. Not to mention the fact that my first official date with my wife was in a flamenco tablao. To see the passion and spirits of Sevillanos performing their art and tradition through dancing, singing, or playing the guitar is a real treat, especially as you can normally find the best ones for free, like La Carboneria.

I miss those Saturday nights when I used to go out for tapas with my wife and we’d normally end up in a flamenco tablao, just sitting, watching the dancers show the world that their tradition is very much still alive.

Christmas is also a lovely time to visit. I normally prefer the lights here, which they put up down the main street Avenida Constitucíon, are prettier and more varied than the ones back in London. There are also great Christmas fares set up around and generally there’s a great, festive and happy vibe kicking about.

If you are visiting Seville, then I’d recommend coming in spring; when the weather is perfect, if it doesn’t rain, and you can get a real feel for why Seville is so special.

Are you planning on visit Seville soon? Have you been here recently? If you have any questions about life here then just leave me a comment below.

Culture Shock, Great things about Spain

Thank you, Sir Columbus, for this wonderful day off!

“Mummy, Mummy, I don’t wanna go to school today.”

“But you’re the teacher.”

“I know, I know it’s just. Hang on, what day is it?”

“The 12th of October, dear.”

“Hell yeah. Then I don’t have to.”

“Why not?”

“It doesn’t matter, it says it here in my annual calendar.”

“Bloody English teachers.”

day-off-spain
Photo by bravenewtraveler

It’s come round again. That great day know as Fiesta Nacional de España (previously Dia de Hispanidad), the day that we get off after just starting back from the three months summer. The one which this year has unfortunately fallen on a Wednesday. Saying that, waking up on Monday morning was more comforting this week. Knowing I had that little break in the week did wonders for the motivation. One mustn’t grumble if one doesn’t have to go to work. I suppose it could be worse, it could have fallen on a Saturday, like it did a few years back, and then absolutely no one would give a damn about the 12th of October. Continue reading “Thank you, Sir Columbus, for this wonderful day off!”

Culture Shock, Great things about Spain, Humour

Is country life all it’s cracked up to be?

life in the country
This is not my house. Photo by Moyan-Brenn

Well, there aren’t pigs trotting about, or cows waking us up in the morning with some noisy mooing, but life out nearer the country is, as we’d hoped, a lot more pleasant. It’s been about three months since we moved out the centre of Sevilla and I miss it less as each day goes by.

If you’re thinking of moving to the outskirts of a city, especially in Spain, then have a look at my latest article for Expat Focus titled You can’t beat a bit of Country Air. I babble on about being close to nature, country air, the lack of noise, and outside space.

For a look at some of my other articles about expat life then look here.

Great things about Spain, Semana Santa, Seville

6 phrases to survive Semana Santa

It’s that time again; Holy week is just round the corner. Semana Santa in Sevilla is about to kick off when hundreds of Nazarenos form in their processions while on a penitence, thousands of spectators absorb the atmosphere while throwing their pipas – seed shells, on the floor, and plenty of Sevillanos cry while their Christs or Virgens pass, or because their procession gets cancelled due to rain.

Whether you love or hate Semana Santa, you can’t live in Sevilla without being affected by the craziness that surrounds this immense festival. Personally, I’m a massive fan (I even participate in a procession, one of the benefits of being married to a Sevillana whose family are members of a brotherhood), at least until the Friday, by then I’ve usually had enough and can’t wait to back to normality, go to bed at a reasonable time, and be able to walk around the city without planning several hours in advance.

If you’re sticking around to watch the processions this year, or are coming over as a visitor, then here are a few expressions that might come in useful as you are out and about watching pasos or having a beer with some locals.

Semana santa virgin
Esta preciosa… Photo by albert besselse

‘Esta preciosa’ – ‘She’s beautiful’

You can use this one while, or just after, a Virgin passes, especially La Macarena, although to her you’d be better off shouting ‘Guapa, Guapa,’ like her followers do. I’m not a huge admirer of the Virgin processions. Even after all these years they seem pretty similar, I know they’re not, but once you’ve seen one hundred, you think you’ve seen them all, or just the same one a hundred times. I’m more eager to wait around an hour, or even two, to see a decent Christ procession though. That’s where the passion and excitement lies for me, especially as La Madrugada approaches. Continue reading “6 phrases to survive Semana Santa”

Expat Focus blogs, Great things about Spain

All you need is love…and a dictionary.

All you need is love expat sevilla
All you need is love, a dictionary, and a yellow submarine. Photo by Zardozspeaks

Have you given up living in your own country for a romantic rendezvous? Did you plan on living abroad for a year or two but got captured by one of those freakishly sexy members of the opposite sex? I guess I did. If I’m totally honest I know there are much more exotic places to live in the world apart from Sevilla, but that’s where my wife is from, so that’s where we are (at the moment). If this rings any bells then you might be interested in reading my latest article on Expat Focus titled Did You Become an Expat for Love?

For a look at my other articles about expat life then have a look at my Columnist Page.

Thanks for reading,

Expat Focus blogs, Great things about Spain, Life as a guiri

Why you should try being an expat

Considering leaving your home soil for some fresh mud? Ever wondered what it would be like to live abroad in a foreign country where no one knows your name, cares about what you have for breakfast, or gives a damn about your bizarre taste in trashy pop music? It’s not for everyone, you have to be a bit mental, like putting yourself through agonising situations, and have enough patience to tolerate frustrating foreign bus drivers.

Expat life in Spain - curiosity
Nothing more to say. Photo by mnwatts

If you think you might be up to the challenge of being an expat, more difficult than just going on a safe trip around the world, then have a look at my latest blog on Expat Focus titled Why everyone should have a bash at being an expat. In the article I talk about the power of curiosity, learning another language, in need of fresh romance, and wanting to have a fistful of anecdotes to tell your loved ones.

If you’re keen to know more about Expat Life in Spain then check out my Columnist page.

Thanks for reading.

Expat Focus blogs, Great things about Spain

Is returning home an option?

Could you leave your expat country? Photo by boltron
Could you leave your expat country?
Photo by boltron

Do you ever wonder about whether you could return home to your native country forever? I reckon I do at least once or twice a day. I might get annoyed about something and think I’d be better off in England, see a new photo of my nephew and wish I could just pop round the corner and take him out for a game of footy, or get to Friday evening and wish I could go out for a few beers with my mates from back home. But could I ever return for good? I’m not sure.

If this happens to you, then have a look at my latest article on Expat Focus titled Could you ever return home for good? I talk about reasons why I could go home, such as banter, London, and Premiership football, and also reasons why I couldn’t, like the weather, pace of life and cost.

To have a look at other articles I’ve written for Expat Focus check out my columnist page.

I’ve been a bit slack on posts over the summer, but things should be returning back to normal now. Cheers.

 

Expat Issues, Great things about Spain

How has living in Spain changed you?

Are you an expat living in Spain? Have you changed in since being here? It’s hard to live in a country and not be influenced by the culture, people, and bizarre customs. Nine years living in Spain has definitely had a massive impact on my lifestyle and outlook on life, but why?

Patience is good. Photo by sleepymyf
Patience is good.
Photo by sleepymyf

Patiencia

This might be taking the whole ‘mañana mañana’ approach to the extreme, but I’ve learnt how to be more patient since living in Spain. That doesn’t mean that I’ve become lazy like the stereotype states. In fact, I find the majority of Spanish people to be quiet hard working (when they have a job, of course) apart from builders, who always seem to be on a break while scoffing their sandwiches wrapped up in foil, and anyone who works on Sevilla’s metro system, which is taking years to finish.

I often have to fight with my inner British voice, pushing me to get everything done as if the world is about to end; always in a rush, always a million things to do. But I’ve learnt to chill the hell out now and then, only now and then mind. Continue reading “How has living in Spain changed you?”

Great things about Spain, Humour, Seville

What’s so special about the Feria in Sevilla?

It’s that time of the year again when I get out my horseman’s suit, dust off the hat, and polish up my shoes ready for the Feria in Sevilla. I’m only messing, I wouldn’t be seen dead in one of those shiny grey suits and poncy hats the Sevillanos wear while they totter about on their horses with a glass of manzanilla sherry, but that’s mainly because I don’t own, and can’t ride, a horse.

The mighty Feria in Sevilla starts up next week, officially at midnight on Monday with the pescaito (fried fish night). Sevillanos remortgage their houses so they can spend a week eating, drinking and prancing about dancing Sevillanas on unstable wooden stages.

Can you sense that I’m not a Feria kind of guy? I’m more of a Semana Santa man. I probably would have been a fan back in my early twenties when I was young, free and single. Sure I will be again once my boy is old enough to drag me on the intense rides on Hell Street. I do try to see the positive aspects in most things though, so here are a few reasons why you should get out a loan from the bank this week and attend the Feria de Sevilla! Continue reading “What’s so special about the Feria in Sevilla?”

Culture Shock, Great things about Spain, Humour

Derbies in Spain are Insane – Part 2

The buzz of being at a live game hit me like a train and I was blown away by the atmosphere, but I still hadn’t seen the real essence of a Sevilla v Betis derby.

Nando bowled up to a security guard protecting a closed barricade. The noise of the fans suddenly doubled.

“Can’t you just let us in here,” he said.

“Sorry, it’s full,” said the security guard, folding his arms.

“Come on man, my Cuñao has come all the way over from London for this game.”

The security guard shook his head.

“Don’t worry Nando, I think our seats are over there anyway,” I said, pointing in the other direction as I glanced at the ticket again, completely unaware of what Nando was trying to wangle.

“Ah man, but this is my second home, how can you not let me in with the best football supporters in Spain?”

“Go on then,” said the security guard, letting us through.

That’s when I realised that we were never going to sit in our actual seats, nor was anyone by the looks of things. As we turned past the security guard I looked behind at the stand. I’d never seen such madness in all my life. It was absolutely insane. Red and white flags were waving everywhere. Young lads, mostly in their twenties, a few skinheads, a few topless, and were going mental, eager for war to begin. There were even quite a few ladies, shouting and singing, wearing their pink Sevilla shirts with pride. Continue reading “Derbies in Spain are Insane – Part 2”