Friday, October 5, 2012

Seville with Kids, Part 2 - Alcazar, Food & City Tour

Day 2
Woke up late today and had breakfast at Hotel EME (5 min walk from our house) near the Cathedral. This hotel was feature don the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills a few seasons ago when Tamra Barney and her boyfriend Eddie went on vacation to Seville. I was curious to check it out and it totally lived up to my expectations. Bright, airy and modern and it had the best coffee right on the main square. We would make it a habit to stop there each morning for coffee and breakfast while Victor made friends with the girl selling ice cream next to the hotel and got a lot of free samples (she did not speak English and he did not speak Spanish but the two of them hit it off somehow).

Next stop was the amazing Moorish castle of Alcazar. While smaller and less famous than Alhambra, we had heard that Alcazar is the more authentic and the better landscaped one of the two. There was a very short line to get in and we set off on exploring the gardens first trying to give Victor a chance to run around a bit and get tired before we focused on the “more boring” bits inside.

The gardens are amazing, with lots of greenery, flowers, fountains and things to discover. There are azulejo tiles everywhere and while Chris and I were admiring the art of the tiles, Victor was just happy to run and hide behind columns, look into the vents that were connected to underground tunnels and try to make friends with the dozen or so geese that walked around the park.

Inside were the famous golden arches, a breath-taking pool decorated with tiles and some unique artwork.

On our way out we were surprised by a fast-approaching thunderstorm so we ducked into the first restaurant we saw and took the last available table. It was a typical Seville place with jamon (huge chunks of smoked ham) hanging from the ceiling and tables placed so close to each other that you are touching your neighbor’s arm every time you pick up your fork.

The Food
Oh, the food in Seville is to die for. In every single tiny little place that we had lunch or dinner the food was fresh, tasty and unique. We ordered a bunch of tapas and Chris practiced his minimal Spanish (surprisingly, not many locals speak good English but communication usually goes well) and we avoided the rain while enjoying fresh olives, fish and cheeses. I have to say that Victor loved the food there so much that he ate pretty much everything that we ordered and pretty much devoured tons of olives each day. Tapas are perfect for kids of many ages as there is always a huge variety and plates are relatively small so you can try many different things. We noticed local kids eat everything - no pizza or chicken nuggets on offer which was fine by me.

The afternoon we took the Hop On Hop Off bus to take a break from walking and to explore parts of the city that we would not have time to visit in depth. The buses are great as they give you head phones that narrate the journey in your language of choice and you can also get on and off as much as you want for the day. 

We started at the Torre del Orro (Gold Tower), which is the bus stop closes to downtown and the Cathedral, then drove through the modern part of town and along the river (I was actually surprised that the area alongside the river was underutilized and sort of bare) and rode through Traiana – the cure area where the factory workers used to live and often associated with flamenco dancing on the streets, little bars and restaurants and more alternative living. The bus ride put Victor to sleep after a while and we just relaxed and enjoyed the sights. There is really a lot to see in this relatively small city.

Dinner that night was back at Hotel EME who have a smallish but really hip (and surprisingly child-friendly despite the local fashionistas on display) bar area that, despite its small size, prepares amazing food. The tuna salad and the local sushi rolls were all amazing.

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