Interview with a Local : Seville

Today we talk to Cat About her home town Seville  in Spain. She’s also given us some really handy tips about what rip offs to avoid and when not to travel to Seville!    Cat keeps a great blog about expat life in Spain having moved there in 2007! If you’d like to read more about her life living in sunny Spain, you can visit her blog Sunshine and Siestas here

Where are you living?

Seville, Spain and Madrid, Spain

Tell us about yourself? (what do you do? How long have you lived there? What are your hobbies or interests?)

My name is Cat Gaa, and I’m known to my friends as La Sevillamericana. Originally from Chicago, I moved to Seville in 2007 to teach English. What was meant to be a year abroad to practice Spanish turned into a husband, a house and a new baby! 

My husband and I moved to Madrid last year, where I work in student services at a university. We like Madrid, but Seville will always be home to us – my son was born in Seville and I have come to think of it with as much esteem as Chicago!

Apart from working, I blog at Sunshine and Siestas about expat life in Spain and about residency issues at COMO Consulting Spain. I also enjoy taking naps, eating (but not cooking) and traveling, and almost always have my camera, named Camerón after the famous flamenco singer, with me.

What is your favourite thing about Seville?

Seville is easy to fall in love with. It’s beautiful and it’s the Spain that you’d expect to see, from quaint plazas to flamenco to a thriving tapas scene. Even so, it feels small and familiar. Seville also boasts a number of great museums, is quite walkable and is an ideal starting off point for many day trips around Andalucía. And it’s connected to Madrid by high-speed train!

What is your favourite thing to do in  Seville with a day off?

Easy. I would start out with a tostada de pringá (minced meat toast) and a coffee at La Estrellita, one of my favourite breakfast joints in my neighborhood. I’d probably stroll down near the river and across the bridge to the city centre and shop along Calle Sierpes. Midday beers with friends would be at Plaza Salvador, a central meeting place for a beer before having a few tapas and a long siesta. 

Seville and Sevillanos are known for being funny, go-with-the-flow and ones to live in the moment, so I’ve had more days like this that I can count!

What in your opinion is the one thing you can’t miss when you visit Seville?

Ofu, there are so many things to do and see in Seville. I’d be inclined to say that one should just walk around without a plan and enjoy the centre of town – it’s one of the largest historic centres in Europe – and the atmosphere.

Here are a few pro tips: take in the sunset over Triana at a rooftop bar, which will also afford views of La Giralda, the most recognisable building and the symbol of the city. Skip the expensive flamenco shows (with the expection of Casa de la Memoria, which is worth the price tag) and find a tablao outside the city center for something more informal. Avoid coming in the summer – it’s unbearably hot! – and during Easter Week, when many businesses and sites close.

If you have a few extra days, you can consider day trips. Seville is a few hours by train from Granada and Málaga, from the pueblos blancos and not even an hour from both Córdoba and Jerez de la Frontera. It’s easy to get around from Seville by RENFE train or private bus company – just know that free parking is hard to come by!

Typical souvenirs would be ceramics from the Triana neighborhood, hand painted fans or even a handmade mantón de mantilla, a silk shawl. If you’re really ambitious, take a flamenco dress!

Any top tips where to go/ what to do on a rainy day?

Seville has very few rainy days as one of continental Europe’s hottest cities, but when it rains, it rains. Check out the Museo de Bellas Artes (the Fine Arts Museum), which houses a number of paintings from the Seville School of Flemish painting. It’s located in a beautiful old convent and is about the cost of a full breakfast in Seville (2,50€, Plaza del Museo).

Where is your go-to restaurant?

Seville is a treat for eating tapas, which are small plates are food. It’s a common misconception that tapas are free: that said, you can have dinner with wine for 15€. And tapas hopping is fun!

I have a few places where I take my guests. The first is Bodeguita Romero, which is popular for its low prices and variety of tapas – I order a piripi, which is a small sandwich with pork loin, tomato, cheese and mayonnaise or a montaíto de pringá, a minced meat sandwich (Calle Gamazo near Plaza Nueva).

For a totally different experience, eat at the bar in Sol y Sombra, which specializes in bull meat. My family loves how grungy it is, that the menu is written on slips of paper and there are ham legs hanging from the ceiling (Calle Castilla).

Gastrobars have pushed Seville’s taberna-dominated food scene out of business but also revolutionized eating out. Gone are microwaved meals, so you can expected market fresh and creative dishes. Consider La Azotea (Calle Mateos Gago) or El Pasaje (Calle Ximénez de Enciso), right in the shadow of the Giralda.

And where do you suggest going for a drink in the evening?

I am very much a cervecería sort of girl. I love the bright lights, the waiters in crisp white shirts and black pants, the way tabs are totaled on the bar in chalk. My favorite is Cervecería La Grande in the back reaches of Triana but I will have a cold Cruzcampo anywhere!

There are a load of great cocktail bars on the newly opened Muelle Nueva York on the river and Paseo Colón, immediately north of the bull ring.

Sevillanos are very much into beer as opposed to wine, but social drinking is a past time, and there are plenty of places to have a drink. In fact, bars were the only clear winners in the financial crisis! If you’re looking for something kitchy, have an agua de Sevilla in Bar Garlochí (Calle Boteros) – it’s not only decked out with Holy Week garb, but the drink will have you practically levitating!

Is there one thing not many people know about Seville?

Seville was historically where ships from the New World landed, so a fair amount of riches stayed in the city. Don’t miss peeking in the ship building yards, Las Atarranzas, or taking a private tour of the Archivo de Indias, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

To read more about Cat’s adventures living in Spain, see her blog here

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