This weekend, my mum and sister visited me in what was, until Friday, sunny Seville. Typically, this weekend was the only time that I have experienced full cloud in the sky and heavy rain for more than two hours in one go. It rained ALL WEEKEND. I mean it really didn’t stop. At all. Still, we were not put off and used the opportunity to be proper tourists, visiting the Cathedral and the Real Alcázar, and of course also getting lost in the old town’s beautiful winding streets. We did try to visit the Plaza de Espana, but that failed. It turns out that heavy rain closes the Plaza due to the threat of falling branches….. Next time, I guess!
We started the tourist experience with the Cathedral. We were lucky enough not to have to queue the entire way around it, as I have sometimes seen on particularly busy days, and even avoided the torrential downpour which started once we were safely inside. It was suitably impressive and the golden altar in the centre was dazzling – so much gold!! The views from the top of the tower of Seville were impressive despite the fact they were somewhat obscured by the blanket of rain surrounding us. After the Cathedral we braved the rain to find somewhere to eat, and fell into a little restaurant on one of the lanes between the two main shopping streets Sierpes and Tetuán. My sister is a coeliac and so this can make eating out more of a challenge, especially in a foreign country. However, after doing some research we were delighted to learn that Seville is in fact one of the most allergy-friendly cities in Europe, with many restaurants printing symbols on their menus to tell you exactly what is in each dish. This restaurant had such a menu and so we safely navigated lunch without accidently poisoning anyone…
The afternoon was less successful. We headed off to visit the Real Alcázar, only to discover that it had now closed for the day. We then thought we might walk to the Plaza de Espana…..This too was closed due to the rain. By now we were feeling rather wet and tired (having walked the whole way to and from the Plaza de Espana and through the labyrinth streets) and so we opted to trek back to the apartment where my mum and sister were staying, and spent a happy few hours doing absolutely nothing in a true Spanish siesta-style. Having dried off and relaxed our feet a little, we were ready for the next excursion: to the AMAZING GLUTEN-FRIENDLY RESTURANT!!! Al Solito Posto is a vaguely Italian restaurant recommended for coeliac in Seville. I say ‘vaguely’ Italian as a few of it’s dishes had an oriental twist, for instance the Salmon with Tai vegetables (pictured) which I had and was gorgeous. Not only did they have the special coeliac menu, but my sister was given a special placemat with a huge NO-WHEAT-HERE-PLEASE sign, AND they gave her fresh gluten-free bread and breadsticks!! Very impressive. We were delighted with the service and the food. When they brought out Becka’s it was adorably covered with a lid, and according to the website they have a separate kitchen for cooking allergen food!! The highlight was probably the gluten-free tiramisu, which Becka had been very excited about and certainly lived up to expectations. I think we will be going back there again! We staggered back to the apartment, and I then had to hop on a bike in the rain to ride the 15-minute journey back to where I am living. Not exactly a trek up Everest, but after a big meal when it is raining and you have essentially been walking all day, it certainly feels like a big ask – especially when the bike rank is full and you have to do another lap of the block to locate a different one!!
On Sunday, we had arranged to have a coffee with my host family as they were very keen to meet my Mum and sister. About half an hour before we had arranged to meet them, Sonia asked me were we wanted to go and then got a bit huffy with me as she didn’t see why we didn’t just take a coffee in the house. I did try to explain that it was more about the croissants in this particular café I had in mind, but my efforts fell on deaf ears and Sonia just shrugged her shoulders in that Spanish was and walked out of the room abruptly….I’m putting this down to nerves. She then spent the next half and hour chasing the girls round the house and barking orders at them in aggressive Spanish. I left them in chaos to meet my family on the street and bring them to the flat, and when I returned she was eerily smiley and polite, clearly on her best behaviour (not a moment to bring up my recent sock-folding lapse then I guess….!).
We decided to visit the Real Alcázar in the afternoon as it didn’t seem to be raining too much and we doubted that the Plaza de Espana would be open. The queue was ridiculous, considering there hadn’t been one at all the day before! We spent a tedious 45 minutes in the queue, but amused ourselves with various Snapchat filters and posing on the steps for cheesy photos (see the Mary Poppins re-enactment). The palace was also very impressive and beautiful and the perfect outing for any mosaic aficionado. Unfortunately, by the time we got to the gardens it had started to rain again, so we gave up and returned to the flat – we are saving the gardens for next time when it is sunny! (Hopefully…) The evening was spent going to a fabulous restaurant called Fargo which advertises itself as an ‘organic’ restaurant and is therefore very coeliac-friendly due to its vegan-awareness. The food was simply divine – lots and lots of wonderful vegetables! A welcome break from the fried food which features so heavily in the Spanish diet. We then went to a Flamenco show at the Flamenco museum close to where my Mum and sister were staying. It was amazing to watch – the dress, the guitar player, and of course the rather handsome male dancer who, as my sister pointed out, did have a fabulous derrière….must be all that foot work 😉 And to finish off a lovely evening? A bike ride in the rain back to my flat.
It was STILL RAINING on Monday, so we spent the morning at the Flamenco museum and then wandered to and from the many many many shoe shops which litter the streets of Seville. I think my Mum is planning on bringing a spare suitcase next time she visits so that she can fill it entirely with shoes! Overall, we felt like we achieved many a tourist activity despite the ridiculous weather. Of course, the moment they left the sun cam out again, and it is currently back up to the dizzying heights of 28 degrees with forecasts for 31 tomorow. DOES SUMMER ACTUALLY EVER END HERE? Not that I am complaining really after a childhood of being starved from vitamin D.
In other news, only 6 days until the Oxbridge Admissions Test ARGGGHH! Also, look out for the next post as it promises to include more baking disasters – the girls have next Monday off school and I am entertaining us in the morning…..What could possibly go wrong?!