We saved the best for last: after a short stop in France, David and I headed to Spain for the last part of our honeymoon. Our first Spain trip included the southern part of the country, from Sevilla to Cadiz and Costa del Sol.
The city of Sevilla is a bustling metropolis where the old and the new live side-by-side. I loved the architectural details—a mixture of Moorish, Gothic, Baroque, and other styles oddly working very well together—and the vivid colors greeting us from art shops and tabernas.
We stayed in a modest BnB in Alameda de Hércules, a garden square in the center of the city, full of history and contemporary entertainment. The square is a popular place for students and families alike to relax, shop, grab a drink, or catch up over yummy tapas.
Our attempts to follow a map for directions were mostly futile. The map might have been accurate, but there were no street names listed on the actual streets or buildings, so we had to guess and run around in circles, doodles, and knots before accessing the BnB in the heart of the plaza.
Nearby, attractions abounded. We strolled through the impressive Plaza del Triumfo (Triumph Square), home of several historic buildings, including Real Alcázar de Sevilla (royal palace), Archivo General de Indias (housing historical documents stretching for more than six miles!), La Giralda (a Spanish Renaissance-style minaret with a Gothic and baroque bell tower added centuries later), and Catedral de Sevilla (and impressive Roman-Catholic structure registered in 1987 by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, along with Real Alcázar palace complex and the General Archive of the Indies).
As usual, we followed our noses and the locals to a hole-in-the-wall place (La Bodeguita de Santa Justa) where we hit the jack pot of lunches: a fixed price menu including traditional Spanish fare. We took a seat at a small wooden table by the wall adorned with painted ceramic tiles as we waited for our food. We people-watched the group of old friends gathered by the bar, sharing stories and strong coffees. The door to the kitchen swung open and rapid Spanish emitted indicating that our first course was ready for pick up at the bar. I sprang into action and fetched the delicious platters of food, while my face lit up with excitement. The courses kept on coming and we thoroughly enjoyed a non-pretentious yet fulfilling meal of seafood paella, fish, tortilla, potatoes, (and more!) and of course red wine.
Jerez de la Frontera
Our next stop was the little southern town of Jerez de la Frontera, known for its horses, sherry, and flamenco dancing.
Our room left us speechless: the old building was beautifully preserved and renovated, with no detail left to chance. Old wooden doors with glass inlay, stained glass windows, marble, and wrought iron staircase showcased the beauty of European design, while our room was designed in typical Moorish style—I felt like I was living in the Real Alcázar for a minute!
We looked for authentic flamenco and found this little gem: Tablao Flamenco La Bailaora Jerez. The atmosphere was intimate and the stage small, but the performance was grand. The dancers changed in a small room filled with cigarette smoke next to the stage. Once they stepped on the stage, though, their world expanded and the passion of flamenco rumbled, infectious. The increasingly frenzied yet calculated rhythm of their feet, the sinuous movement of their arms, their intense facial expressions got us in a trance. Each dancer had her own style and brought something different to the stage. Interestingly, the dancer with the most plain looking dress had the most amazing skills. Amazing show!
For David’s birthday, we wanted to celebrate big, so we headed to Puro Arte, at someone’s recommendation. The place offered dinner/snacks, drinks, and a flamenco show. As soon as we stepped in, we tagged it as a tourist attraction (I don’t want to say “trap” but…). The theatrics were all there, but I felt the authenticity was missing. The funny part was when David got to dance. According to the show schedule, the main female dancer pulled a generally two-left-footed foreigner on the dance floor and danced circles around him. Little did she know that David was an exception: he brought on a little paso doble and some attitude. I watched her eye brows arch upward in surprise, then she dismissed him fairly quickly, as to avoid complications.
Next on the southern route were Cadiz, the ancient port city, and the lonely rock of Gibraltar, with a sneak peek of Africa.