My Readers Ask the Darndest Things
I love getting email from readers, which is good because ever since I announced my decision to return to Seville from the US, my inbox has been flooded with questions. Practically everyone seems to be contemplating a trip here at some point over the next year, and they are baffled by the entry requirements (a fast-moving target) and curious whether the city’s street life has returned to its usual congenial roar (it has). It’s clear 2022 is shaping up to be a boom year for the city, and for my email inbox.
Part of this upsurge in popularity is because “Spain Is Now the Safest EU Destination,” according to the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Our region, Andalucía, has vaccinated more than 80% of its residents, achieving herd immunity and “green status” (less than 50 Covid cases per 100,000 inhabitants). Sevillanos are matter-of-fact about observing all the appropriate public safety protocols, especially masking, while maintaining an attitude of cheerful normalcy. People are moving on with their lives.
I am constantly astonished to find myself in a city that feels so post-pandemic. Not post-Covid, of course; we all know that the virus is still stalking the planet, and we’d be fools not to take proper precautions. And there’s always the chance some hideous new variant could arise, throwing everything into chaos again. But as of this writing, Seville feels like an oasis of safety in an uncertain world. Is it any wonder so many people are contemplating a visit?
My friend Charles is always telling me to stop saying nice things about Seville on this blog because we don’t want too many tourists overrunning the city. I keep explaining to him that people are going to come anyway, and if anyone should be held accountable, it's the city's leaders. At the very same time I started this blog, they launched a multi-million euro campaign to attract visitors, and it’s been successful beyond their wildest dreams. And yet Charles is convinced it's all my doing.
I point out to him that I may play some small part in inspiring people to visit, but my real job is making sure they have fun when they get here.
Those who don’t do their research often show up expecting a European version of Mexico. These poor souls wander about, bewildered by the complete lack of spicy food and mariachi music, and confused when ordering a tortilla results in the arrival of a dense potato omelet instead of the flat bread used to make burritos. Others read the tourist literature and limit themselves to the cathedral, the Alcázar palace, and the corporate-owned restaurants and cookie-cutter souvenir shops nearby. My job is to open doors for my readers, so they know where to find the oddball stuff, like tiles that predict your matrimonial future, sites used in filming Game of Thrones, and the kind of backstreet food that makes you want to get up and dance with the cook.
On top of all that, now I’ve got tips about Covid safety to share: where you can dine outdoors, get tested before your flight home, and buy masks that are as safe as KN95s but come in fashionable patterns and colors because hey, we all need a break from black and while and surgical blue sometimes.
So I’ve decided to put together a short guide to the city at this unique moment in its history, helping people figure out travel logistics and entry requirements, navigate the recent changes in the local culture, and stay safe and comfortable in transit and throughout their visit. I’m taking a few weeks off from writing on this blog to organize my notes into something approaching coherent form, and when it’s ready I’ll post the guide online so my regular readers can download it for free and others can purchase it in Kindle or paperback form.
In the meantime, if you have any questions or topics you’d like to see covered in this little guidebook, please let me know. And for heaven’s sake, don’t tell Charles about any of this. The less he knows the better. Mum’s the word.
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As always, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your blog about the restaurants and the differences you see back home in Seville. I will be forever grateful for your introducing me to pig cheeks when I met you personally in 2017. You are a wealth of information and your presentation and descriptions are fab.
11/10/2021 06:36:30 am
So glad you're enjoying the blog, Patricia! And it was such fun introducing you to carilladas (pig cheeks); not everyone is brave enough to try something that sounds so odd when you first hear of it. I hope your travels bring you back one day soon so we can go out again for some of Seville's more unusual tapas.
11/10/2021 03:36:32 am
Excited about the forthcoming guide...just in case I make it to seville!
11/10/2021 06:59:14 am
A very good question, Faye, and yes, people do work here, and take their jobs seriously. The big difference is that they balance those jobs with their family and social life, and don't always give work top priority. You're expected to spent quantity and quality time with people you care about on a regular basis, rather than fitting them into the margins of your life. The city's vibrant street life is the place visitors and locals can most easily intersect, so that's what I tend to write about. I'm glad you brought this up, and I'll keep the subject in mind for future posts!
11/10/2021 05:40:31 am
After hiking and biking in Portugal, we spent our last 5 days in Lisbon. Only servers and sales people had to wear masks and restaurants were packed without masks or social distancing. It was very Covid safe but I couldn't stop saying how much better I liked Seville. Lisbon was quite run down and wow was it hilly with lots of steps and stairs. Everything was spread out. And all those ceramics came from Seville. The food is more creative in Seville.
11/10/2021 07:13:09 am
Lisbon is a wonderful old city, Kitty, but I agree, it doesn't have Seville's comfortable charm or dazzling foodie scene. And like you, I get tired of hiking up and down Lisbon's hills, although no doubt it's good for me. As for the ceramics, Portugal has its own traditions, with somewhat different colors and styles. My favorite tiles in all of Lisbon — you probably saw them — are the ones on the wall of the cathedral, showing St. Anthony preaching to the fish, who are all sticking their little heads out of the water to listen. An artist with a lovely imagination. There's much to love in Lisbon, but as you well know, my favorite city in the world is Seville.
11/10/2021 08:02:15 pm
We are in Sevilla now, and I think a list of do it yourself day tours via train or bus would be very helpful. We did Cadiz and the Roman ruins (Italica?) last time and Jerez this time, but I'm sure there are more places to visit for a day without paying for a guided tour. And, a list of restaurants that take reservations would-be really helpful. Dealing with seating when you don't speak Spanish can be difficult. (Thank the maker for Eslava!)
11/13/2021 09:33:35 am
These are great ideas, and I thank you both for them! If you've visited Italica, you might want to consider Merida, which has wonderful Roman ruins. Another fun day trip is Aracena, where there are deep caverns, once used to film Journey to the Center of the Earth. As for the restaurants, nearly all of them take reservations now, even some of the funky, back-street cafés; we usually spot places on our walks and make a reservation for later that day or evening. Most of the sophisticated places have some staff that speak English and take reservations online, which is by far the easiest option for non-Spanish speakers. I hope you enjoy your time in Andalucía, Lisa and Robert!
Marty & Susan
11/16/2021 03:46:59 pm
We finally have the opportunity to travel to Seville at any time of the year. So when would you suggest we visit to avoid large touristy crowds and overwhelming festivals but have the pleasure of enjoying pleasant weather?
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Winner of the 2023 Firebird Book Award for Travel
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TO I'm an American travel writer based in Seville, Spain.
Wanderlust has taken me to more than 60 countries. Every week I provide travel tips and adventure stories to inspire your journeys and let you have more fun — and better food — on the road
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