Posted by: vlibrizzi | July 14, 2009

Summer Road Trip: Sevilla and the Parador of Carmona

DSC_0658We have officially reached the mid-point of our summer trip, and this is the stop that I was looking forward to most. Sevilla…home to tapas, Paseos, small streets, sangria, and flamenco. Ole! 






DSC_0663Instead of actually staying in the city of Sevilla, we took the advice of our neighbor, Denise, in Fontainebleau (who, when she was younger, used to drive from Fonty to Sevilla most summers) and stayed at a Parador in the town of Carmona (about 30 minutes from Sevilla). 

Years ago, the Spanish government decided to turn many of the old fortresses and castles littered throughout the country into hotels that are fully run by the government — now known as “paradores”. Since old castles and fortresses were built usually on the top of hills so that the residents could guard the countryside below them, these paradors usually have the most amazing views. Plus, it’s pretty cool to stay in an old castle. 

DSC_0665But, I can imagine what you’re thinking…why would someone want to stay in a drafty old castle that’s probably falling apart?

The Paradors are hardly that. For example, the Parador in Carmona (where we’re staying) is a beautiful hotel with a great pool (which we’ve used a few times and you can see in the photo above) and really great rooms…with a stunning view (see photo to the left). 




DSC_0664Here’s another photo of the Parador. This one is of their interior courtyard where we had a quick lunch yesterday.

Since the Paradors are government-run, you can get pretty good deals to stay in them. For example, since we’re under 30, we get a discount. Pretty great, huh? 

So, yesterday  morning we wanted to take advantage of our cool hotel…and avoid being in the hot sun during the worst part of the day (we now understand the reason why Spanish people take siestas in the afternoon), so we went to the pool. 



Then, after a late lunch, we drove into Sevilla. At first, we did a walking tour that our guidebook recommended of the Barrio Santa Cruz. The streets are all so narrow that some are even nicknamed “kissing streets” because the buildings are so close to each other that it seems as if they’re kissing (see photo to the left). All of this was done on purpose though…so that the residents could be in the shade the whole time. And it worked. Apparently, the temperature in the Barrio Santa Cruz is almost 10 degrees cooler than the other parts of the city where the streets are wide enough for pesky cars to get through. 







DSC_0608Here are some more photos of our walk through the Barrio Santa Cruz. 

The church belltower photographed from under a cool archway.











Here’s a photo of me standing in one of the squares. Notice, I’m definitely standing in the shade. It was hot!






DSC_0610And, here is a photo of what we needed most by the end of the walk….agua!







DSC_0629I think the thing we loved most on our walk was sitting in the little squares in the barrio under orange trees…and taking a break to try to cool off. You can see C. splashing his face with water in the photo to the left to try to stay cool.

When it was later in the evening and started to get cooler, we strolled the streets during the evening Paseo. The residents of Sevilla stay indoors during the hot afternoon hours, but once the sun starts to go down, the streets come alive with shoppers and people just out for their nightly stroll. 



DSC_0638After all that walking, we began to get hungry so we headed back to the Barrio Santa Cruz to have some tapas and cervezas at two different places. In particular we loved the patatones with garlic sauce and chicken, and the jamon de casa (iberico ham atop toasted bread which was dipped in samorejo, a local, thicker version of gazpacho). 

The streets were packed with tourists and locals having a bite to eat. You can see one of the tapas restaurants we went to in the photo to the left..with all the people standing outside having a drink.



DSC_0651Then, we headed to the highlight of our evening…and in my opinion, the highlight of our trip so far…a flamenco show!

We squeezed into a small room with moorish tile walls and candle lanterns on the floor, took out our spanish fans (it was hot in there with so many people and no AC), and listened to the Spanish guitarist. Later, the guitarist was joined by a male solist. To us, the music sounded like the Muslim call to prayer…and now, in addition to seeing, we could definitely hear the Moorish influences in this region. 

But then, after a few minutes of singing and guitar-playing, the flamenco dancer entered the room. We tried to keep up with her fast footwork, heel stomping, and arm twisting, but it was honestly difficult. She was mesmerizing.

DSC_0639I immediately felt guilty about complaining about the heat. The dancer was in a full traditional outfit, dancing her heart out in 100 degree heat!

We had planned to go to a sangria bar after the flamenco, but sadly, it was closed…just like France, a lot of things are closed here on Mondays. But, it was ok with us. We were so tired after watching the flamenco dancer  that we felt like we needed to head back to our hotel in Carmona. 

Today, after I finish this blog post, we’re heading to Granada to see the Alhambra. C. planned the trip perfectly….we’ll be at the most beautiful place in all of Spain (the Alhambra) on our 3 year wedding anniversary!


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