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An Ode To Sevilla

            A couple weeks ago I decided to brave the wilderness yet again and hopped on a bus to Sevilla- heart of flamenco, art and culture- to meet Rachel, an old friend from California.  Rachel was coming to Spain for a week so we planned a weekend rendezvous in the city I had so many wonderful things about.

            I was smitten at first sight.  Stepping off the bus in Sevilla I was blown away by the beautiful ancient buildings, sun filled parks, horse drawn carriages, and colorful outdoor vendors hawking rainbowed scarves. 

I ventured into the city and rented a bike, something I’ve been missing a lot since arriving in Spain.  I HIGHLY recommend renting a bike since Sevilla has gone green in the last few years, closing down many of the main streets to cars and the flat streets are perfectly for exploring on a bike!  I cruised around through back alleys, bouncing over cobblestones and took in all the sights, smells and sounds of Sevilla.  Of any city I had been in Spain, Sevilla seemed the most Spanish somehow with  trellised metal gates winding with bright flowers, stony faced buildings with thrown open shutters showing colorful rooms, cafes and Flamenco clubs. 

I followed the screams of an amusement park and crossed a bridge into the “modern” side of town and found a garden hidden behind some municipal buildings.  The fall leaves cruntched under my bike tires as I wound through the trees, fountains emptied for winter, and a labyrinth cut through shrubs and rose bushes.  Afterwards I made a dinner of French bread, cheese, tomatoes, plums and dark chocolate and watched a free modern dance performance in the plaza as I ate.  It just so happened to be National Dance Week in Sevilla and the schedule was packed with a variety of dance performances across the city in parks, galleries, theaters and even the metro station.  The performance was wonderful- a weird mix of contact improv, capoeira, and slapstick humor and afterwards I got the dancer’s business card and promised to help them get some gigs in America, something they had always dreamed of. 

            That night I went to dinner in the Juederia  (the jewish neighborhood)  which was beautiful with little mosaic plazas, narrow streets and cafes.

             The next day  we went to the Flamenco museum which was a dark-lit, melodramatic little affair with videos showing the dozens of intricate varieties of flamenco and the colorful costumes worn.  The history of flamenco is often compared to the origins of jazz:  born in smoky underground bars and looked down upon as the “fancy of the lower class.”  The irony now, of course, is that flamenco brings in the biggest tourist bucks and is hailed as the passionate life-blood of Sevilla.   

That night (at the recommendation of a fellow WSA staff member!)  I went to a hidden Flamenco show in a crowed bar.  The perfomance was breathtaking and I could feel the history and passion of this amazing city through the moves of the dancer.

The next day I toured the Alcazar- filled with beautiful ponds, gardens and strutting peacocks, checked out the (debatably) largest cathedral in Spain and took a relaxing stroll through Maria Luisa Park, complete with venetian styled canals with boats to rent and a majestic castle and fountain.  

All in all Sevilla was a wonderful weekend getaway and I can't wait to return!

- Laurel

Comments:

Katrina Alford, Concordia University - Irvine

Happy Backpackers

This past weekend, I traveled to Budapest with WSA with a couple of friends from my university abroad, and I couldn't have asked for a better trip! After arriving at the hostel, we met Bogi, our tour guide for the weekend, who was instantly friendly and welcoming. Throughout the weekend, Bogi was an amazing guide! She showed us some great places for shopping and food, as well as the top sights around the city. You could tell she loved her job and never passed up an opportunity to share about her hometown and some of its history. She was so friendly and was sincerely interested in us as individuals and did everything she could do accommodate our priorities for the weekend (whether it was food, shopping, nightlife, sightseeing, etc.) I would highly recommend WSA's guided tours for any student studying abroad who wants to explore more than their university's city!

Katrina Alford, Concordia University - Irvine ~ AIFS Richmond, Spring 2015

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