December 31, 2020-January 3, 2021
January 1 was the first full day in Sevilla and the first day of 2021. I would only have two full days in Sevilla (and a half day on either end) so I wanted to make the most of my time. Unfortunately, being New Year’s Day, just about everything was closed. I did some research and talked to the hotel staff. I decided I’d take the morning to rest and catch-up on random things, and then in the afternoon I’d do some outdoor exploring.
A few of the main things to do in Sevilla are the Royal Alcázar of Seville, the Cathedral and La Giralda, Torre del Oro, and the Setas de Sevilla. The Alcázar would be on the agenda for the next day, and the Cathedral, Giralda, and Torre were all closed in general due to COVID. So, the best I would get was walking around outside to see them.
Another top site in Sevilla is the Plaza de España which is located within the Parque de María Luisa. There’s some beautiful architecture, a river, and various things to do. I met up with Leyre mid-afternoon to explore the Plaza and the surrounding parks
After, I headed back to the hotel while enjoying some nice views along the way.
We had planned to meet up later that night but decided against it because we would have a fairly early morning the next day with Alcázar. We planned on arriving around 10 AM and didn’t anticipate it to be too busy given the pace of the city so far and how most sites in the trip thus far were quite sparse with people.
We all woke up a bit late the next day, and so we didn’t arrive to Alcázar until around 11 AM. We were shocked to see that there was a huge line, and everyone getting in had pre-bought tickets. I figured we should go ahead and get 11:30 AM tickets, but Leyre had forgotten her passport. Because this was my last full day in Sevilla, and I wouldn’t be able to go the next day, I went on by myself. They planned on going later in the week.
The compound which forms the Alcázar is dated back to the Middle Ages with a majority of being built in the year 913 AD. It is another fortress and palace that has Visigothic, Arab, and Catholic marks. It was also used as a residence/Royal Palace. More history can be found here.
I spent a couple hours there (from about 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM) and then met up with Gabrielle at 2 PM while Leyre went to visit some local friends she had. We walked around and visited the outside of the Cathedral and found a place to stop for lunch.
I selected our next site: the Antiquarium, a below ground archaeological museum with ancient Roman house ruins, mosaics, pottery, and other artifacts. Entrance here was included with the ticket to Alcázar. After we arrived, we went to the ticket booth. It turns out we had gone to the section for the Setas de Sevilla, which is a large wooden structure above the antiquarium. I was confused and struggling with Spanish, and the ticket agent was not exactly patient. Seeing as we had already started to go through the security and Gabrielle had gotten her ticket, we decided to go up there and hit the antiquarium after.
I’m so glad we did because this was one of the highlights in Sevilla. Setas translates to mushrooms and is a colloquial name for the structure formally deemed the Metropol Parasol. It is the largest wooden structure in the world and reaches 26 meters (85 feet) tall. There are winding pathways across the top of the structure where you have beautiful views of the city.
The first phase of construction of Metropol Parasol uncovered visible remains of much of the Roman period, from Tiberius (ca. 30 AD) to the 12th century. VI, as well as an Almohad Islamic house from the 12th and 13th centuries.
The archaeological walk takes you above the remains, and the archaeological hall contains all the remains found: the salting factory from the 1st century; the set of Roman houses and streets from the 2nd to 6th centuries; the Almohad House of the Noria of the XII / XIII century; and other extracted elements such as mosaics, ovens, and fountains.
We went to a few stores, and then got dinner at a burger place. At this point, COVID restrictions required businesses to close from 6-8 PM, so we walked around for an hour until it opened back up. I had a killer veggie burger, and then I went back to Gabrielle’s hotel to hang out until curfew time. As we approached curfew, I grabbed an Uber and headed back to my hotel. I spent about an hour cleaning up and packing, and then was off to bed to prepare for my early flight the next morning.
I was up early on January 3 to head to the airport. My time in Sevilla was brief, and there’s certainly much more to do that’ll make another trip there worth it. I’m sure things will be quite different when tourism increases, and the streets and sites are filled with countless people. As much as I wanted to continue exploring, I was ready to go home, get caught up on some things, and prepare to go back to school next week.
My flight was at 11:30 AM. I had planned to take a bus to the airport, but it would’ve been about an hour. I grabbed an Uber and was there around 9 AM. Just like when getting here, they weren’t even opening check-in and security until 2 hours before the flight. I waited around a little bit, and then checked in.
Security was smooth, and I got to the gate. We all lined up, and a few people got on board. Then, things halted. With no real explanation, none of us moved for over an hour. Then, we got moving but had to walk outside and for about 20 minutes until we got to the airplane. It was a very strange experience. When we finally took off, the flight was uneventful. I snoozed a little bit even though it was only about an hour and a half flight.
When I arrived back in Santiago de Compostela, I had to catch the airport shuttle and figure out where to get off to transfer to a bus that would take me closer to the train station. I wasn’t even entirely sure I was on the right bus, but I ended up where I needed to be. I went to the bus/train station and had a bus ticket for a few hours later. I got some coffee, talked to my family, and then was on the train and back in Pontevedra.