When I go to big cities I am always a bit stressed, because there are always more things to do than I can fit into my schedule, and that makes traveling a bit unpleasant. It may seem like a good problem to have, but if I am stressed about having to see everything, doesn’t that defeat the whole point of traveling?
I am at a point in my life where I can really use some down time to reflect on recent happenings, so I intentionally picked a place that’s not quite as busy as other places I’ve been to in the past – Seville!
Not quite as popular or well-known as places like Barcelona or even Madrid, but it’s still a city with magnificent architecture, epic stories of cultural clashes and conquests, religions, and art. A lot of art.
Many famous operas were set in Seville, and they serve as testimonies to its beauty. To name a few among a dozen – Carmen, Marriage of Figaro, Barber of Seville (where the Bugs Bunny theme song came from), and Don Juan.
The city is also an enduring record of the clashes between the Moors (Muslims from North Africa) and Catholics in the 8th century, and as a result the architectural style is a unique blend of Jewish (came with the Moors), Gypsy (also came with the Moors), Muslim, and Catholic. Often in the same buildings as well, and that’s super cool!
Also, circumstances dictate that I travel by myself again, so I’m back to meeting strangers! Like last time, I’m going to number them in this post instead of giving their names – both in order to protect the innocent, and also because I am shit with names.
The hostel is nicely nestled in the middle of Santa Cruz, a labyrinth of narrow alleys that make up the medieval Jewish quarter of Seville.
It all looks very confusing, but for some reason, I can always manage to find my way back to the hostel without a map if I just follow my instinct. Maybe my brain decided to grow some grid cells?
The hostel is a bit anti-social with everyone doing their own things (like me on my laptop typing this post…), but the decorations are interesting, and there’s free dinner!
I love hostels with free dinners! Dinners are amazing for bringing people together and getting people to start talking. And talk we did.
Dutch girl #1 used to live in Brussels doing spreadsheets for an insurance company, but decided that’s too boring and went to live in Australia for a few months, and met Australian guy #1, and they started dating. They now travel all over the world as nomads. How cool is that?!
Belgian girl #1 also works in Brussels, and after a few moments of confusion, established that she actually works at the same insurance company that Dutch girl #1 worked at. They did not know each other.
She also speaks perfect English, despite English being her 4th language. Belgian people are amazing.
American girls #1 and #2 were from Chicago and Michigan, and they are on an exchange program, spending a semester at a university in Madrid, while teaching English for 4 euros/hour (that’s not survivable even by Spanish standards). They are doing some traveling before going back to the States, and they both speak Spanish really well! I really need to work on my Spanish. Being only bilingual is getting a bit old, when everyone I meet at hostels are at least trilingual.
Canadian guy #1 is a mechanical engineer from London, Ontario, working for General Dynamics. We mostly just geeked out and talked about mechanical engineering shit that I assume most of my readers aren’t terribly interested in, but he did tell me how a friend of his in the bio-med field mentioned to him that there’s this simple device many research labs pay thousands of $s for that he (and even I) can build in a few days for about $200, and he is going to launch a startup to take advantage of that. I don’t want to say too much about it since I’m not sure if he wants more people to know, but as an engineer, I’ve had lots and lots of people pitch their startup/project ideas to me, and I found most of them BS in some way. Not this one. This one is actually cool.
Norwegian guy #1 is a vet working in a research lab at a university in Madrid doing research in animal nutrition. I don’t remember what he works on exactly, but it’s impressive.
There are wars and power struggles in the history of every city, and while in northern/western parts of Europe the big war is usually WWII, here it happened centuries earlier – between Muslims and Catholics. This results in interesting architecture. For example, La Giralda, one of the most symbolic icons of the city used to be a minaret – a Muslim tower for prayers. Now it’s in the middle of Catedral de Sevilla – the largest Gothic cathedral in the world… which used to be a mosque.
The cathedral itself is huge, but not really impressive otherwise. Looks like someone had a few crates more gold than they knew what to do with, and just poured it all over this place.
The tower is amazing though!
The way up is a very very very long ramp. It’s a ramp instead of steps because the imam had to go up 5 times a day, and the imam was usually a very old guy. With a ramp he could ride a donkey up. DONKEY! UP A TOWER!!
I am not the proud owner of a donkey, so I walked. And walked. And walked. 20 minutes later… bird’s-eye view of Seville!
How amazing would it be if I could jump off with a paraglider or something?
To be continued… (spoiler: I did not jump)