Tag Archives: España

spain, pt 6. seville: the poetry and passion of flamenco

the next day i spent the first part of the day recovering from the night before.  the beauty of having few expectations in a travel destination is that you never truly feel like you are missing out on anything, and you are free to enjoy a place however you wish to enjoy it in the moment.  i was beginning to learn how to truly enjoy traveling like this, staying in the moment, not having too great of an itinerary, just enjoying the opportunities that made themselves available to me, and seville was the perfect place to learn this.  just big enough that you could find all the normal conveniences that one wants when living or staying in a large city, but not as big as the other major metropolitan centers like barcelona or madrid.  it is a city of perfect balance.

that afternoon i put on the nicest clothes i had (which admittedly were not very nice.  a pair of jeans and a collared shirt with my worn hiking boots) and went to meet a woman named lucía whom i would be hanging out with for the evening.

road to the catedral
road to the catedral

one of the things i had prioritized early on in my trip was to meet locals, but i had not been an expert in doing that at first.  one of the ways i had tried to combat that was by using an online dating service called ok cupid, which i had previously used back home in denver.  it seems a little disingenuous, using a dating app “to meet locals,” but it honestly was easier to meet locals this way sometimes than trying to meet people in bars, and there was always the potential upside of that person being attracted to you.  if you give me a choice between hanging out with a dude or an attractive female, i’m going to not choose the dude every time.

lucía was one of those kind souls who agreed to meet a wandering american, knowing i would be here and gone forever within a matter of days, but she wanted to share some of her city with me and show me an authentic experience.  she speaks near-impeccable english with just enough of a hint of an accent that gives her the perfect balance of “easily understood” and “exotic foreign appeal”

lucía stands out in the crowd
lucía stands out in the crowd

(remember what i said in earlier posts about listening to spanish women speak?  it’s intoxicating.  lucía if you are reading this, never attempt eliminate your accent further from where it is right now.  it is perfect).  at the time we met, lucía was doing contract work for amazon, the american online retailer, doing translation work for their web and product pages.  lucía is tall, about 5’10” and has beautiful long black hair and dark eyes to match.  when she smiles, her eyes actually smile too, unintentionally letting you know that her pleasure is real, and putting you at ease.  when she speaks, she speaks with purpose and intelligence, likely drawing from her education, but also from something deeper, most likely a good family and wise parents.

we met and walked through the middle of town as the city began to grow dark.  the lights began to flicker to life and a subtle romanticism settled about the city of seville, shadows playing and dancing in all the right places to create a mystery about the place.  lucía led me to a place called ‘the metropol parasol,” or as it is more colloquially known, “the mushrooms.” Continue reading spain, pt 6. seville: the poetry and passion of flamenco

spain, pt 5. seville: the four horsemen

martín had departed and i had strayed away from madrid and down into the marvelous countryside of andalusia.  i wasn’t sure what exactly i would be doing but i had 5 days before i needed to be in morocco and i didn’t want to spend that whole time in madrid.  just a couple hours on the train rushing by the rolling hillsides and golden fields had been sufficient proof that i had made the right decision, and i knew i was headed where the music was playing.

i pulled into seville and had a brief wander through the confusing streets before locating perhaps the best hostel i would end up staying at my entire trip, a place called “la banda rooftop hostel.”  run by four brits who had long been friends and had a dream of running a hostel in a spanish speaking country, i could see almost immediately that they had created one of the best cultures i had ever seen, not just in a hostel, but even amongst work environments.  these guys loved what they did, and people loved being there.

after i got settled in, i went up to the rooftop.  since it was in the title of the place, i wanted to see what all the fuss was about.  what i found was a wonderfully quaint terrace with a modest view of the cathedral and a small garden that lined the railings.  it was a perfect place to relax, and there were a few guests who were doing just that, spread out among the patio furniture, reading books or typing away on laptops.  i sat down amongst them and tried to soak in a little of the sun’s warmth.  a minute later a young man sitting next to me struck up a friendly conversation.  he had long black hair, covered up by an aged worn bowler cap, a la old 1930s america.  he had sunglasses on and was slightly unshaven, and had an old troubadour look about him that seemed to suggest he liked stories, whether reading about them or experiencing them.  either way was fine by me, and i decided he had an old-fashioned kind of bob dylan look about him, which made me snicker and say to myself “of course!” when he introduced himself as dylan only a few seconds later.  dylan was from vermont and he had never traveled extensively before, but had always wanted to go to spain, so he had booked a flight for two weeks in spain with no reservations and had skipped down to seville only two days before.  he filled me in a little on the area around us and suggested a few favorites before i left him, making plans to meet up again that night.

i went back down into the lobby and conferred with tom, one of the la banda founders.  i expressed to him that there were only two important things i needed to experience in seville:  good local-style tapas, and flamenco.  tom dutifully pulled out a map and started marking spots for me to try out, while i tried intensely to pay attention, knowing all bets were off once i left the hostel and was lost wandering the streets of old sevilla by myself.

when tom was finished marking everything all over the map, i set out into the streets and started to get a feel for sevilla as i popped in and out of four or five different tapas locations, sampling all manner of different dishes and wines.  my favorite of all these places was the last place i stopped, in a little spot called “la bodega de santa cruz,” located just up the road from the cathedral of sevilla.  in an unassuming and unfancy building on the corner of the cobblestone road, the place was bustling with life as patrons stood packed around tables and the bar, nursing their wines and beers and hungrily devouring their small plates of delicious fare and talking and laughing loudly while the aromas wafted alluringly above the crowd and out into the streets, attracting people in droves.  this place was a party, and i had arrived just in time.  i shouldered my way up to the bar and waited patiently for someone to make eye contact with me.

Continue reading spain, pt 5. seville: the four horsemen

spain pt 2: barcelona; love, and its tempered disguise

arc de triomf

spain lulled me into siesta the next few days. i had been running around from place to place all over europe, and i was now struck with a travel fatigue.  my friend micah in denver had warned me of this.  he had told me there would come a point where i would just be tired.  tired from exploring, tired of searching for a place to sleep, tired of adapting to a new language with new customs, tired of figuring out what the “must-see” attractions are of a new place.  just…tired.  i was tired.

martín had told me that he had come back to barcelona to finish off his trip so that he could relax on the beach and do nothing for his last week in europe, and that is exactly what he did. every single day i would ask martín what he was doing and he would respond with a big goofy grin and say “oh man, eets reeeallyy nice outside, man.  i’m going to the beach!”  and so i went with him, in need of “throwaway days,” as i like to call them, where i had absolutely no expectations for myself.

after a few days in the city, i received an email from an old denver friend named amy.   Continue reading spain pt 2: barcelona; love, and its tempered disguise