Sevilla

Last weekend, I took a bus to Sevilla to visit some of my friends from the Czech Republic who are studying there. It was a good time overall, and I’m so glad that I went and was able to experience the city.

I’ve been seriously considering returning to Spain after I graduate from my university in the spring. I feel so comfortable in this country–the culture is so laid-back and friendly compared to the U.S., which is really a breath of fresh air for someone as high-strung and busy as I generally am. I enjoy the daily challenge of speaking Spanish all the time, and I would love to spend more than four months living here and to be able to travel throughout Europe more. There are several programs to which English speakers can apply to teach English abroad. I’ve talked to a couple of people who are involved in them right now, and from what I’ve heard, the pay and hours are pretty good.

When you apply to the program, you’re able to request a specific region or city that you’d prefer to be placed in. I haven’t visited northern Spain yet (though I will be next week!), so I can’t really rule it out with any sort of certainty. But right now, I really think I want to continue living in Andalucía. The attitude here is so relaxed, the weather is awesome, and the countryside is beautiful. For both aesthetic and personal reasons, I’ve come to love this part of Spain. But as much as I’ve come to feel at home in Ronda, I doubt I would really want to live here for a whole year–it’s a great little city, but there are only so many things you can do after a while.

Sevilla, on the other hand…

I fell totally in love with the city while I was there. It’s beautiful, bustling, and the public transportation systems are awesome. We walked around for two days and visited a lot of the more popular sites, but the whole city is huge and I’d like to explore a lot more of it. The first day, we went to the center of the city and saw some of the more popular tourist-y things, like some churches and fountains, and later the bullring.

We also visited the main building of the University of Sevilla, where my friends attend school. The building is HUGE, and I guess a long time ago it used to be a tobacco factory. My friends don’t actually have class in the building, but it was still cool to see.

Those are my Czech friends… they’re all seriously some of the sweetest girls I know. They studied at my school in Ronda for a few weeks before leaving for Sevilla, and everyone misses having them here. It’s nice that Sevilla is close enough to visit, though, so we still get to spend time with them!

In the evening, we took a walk by the river that runs through the city. Since the weather in Sevilla is almost always really hot during the daytime, the nights are perfect in terms of temperature. And the waterfront was very pretty.

That night, the girls cooked some traditional Czech food for us… I don’t remember the name of it, but it was basically a kind of potato pancake with sauerkraut on top of it. It was delicious, and so nice of them! Afterwards, we went out for a little bit to get a taste of the nightlife in Sevilla–it’s definitely more lively than Ronda.

The next day, we visited some parks in another part of the city. There were some really pretty gardens, so my friend and I wandered around them a little while.

We also went to an art museum, which was interesting because it wasn’t really “paintings hanging on the wall” sort of art (which is what we were expecting). It was more like, pottery and old farming/workshop/household equipment. There was some really cool stuff there though, especially some really sweet painted tiles (almost every building in Spain has some sort of tiling on the walls… I love it).

Afterwards, we headed over to the Plaza de España. I was told that this was something I HAD to visit, and I’m really glad that I did, because it was absolutely GORGEOUS.

The really cool part of the Plaza is that all around the edges of the main building, there are painted tiles representing all the major cities in Spain. Each section is unique and really pretty, with a scene and decorations painted all around it. I seriously could have spent all day staring at each different one if we’d had the time… it was almost overwhelming.

Whenever I return to Sevilla (and yes, whether I work there or not, I WILL return to Sevilla), I’d really like to visit the Plaza de España again!

That night, my friends made ANOTHER awesome dinner for us. They’re really good hosts, and it’s such a nice feeling to know that there are people in other parts of the world who are so welcoming to me. I hope to be able to return the favor sometime soon!

As I mentioned earlier, the system of public transportation in Sevilla is top-notch. Since we were visitors to the city, we just took the bus to get to all the places that we needed to be. But for a regular citizen of the city, it offers some other really fantastic methods of getting around the city. On the most-trafficked streets of the city, there are three lanes: one is for walking, one is for bike traffic, and the other is for a train that drives right in the middle of the path.

It’s more like a combination of a trolley and a metro than it really is a train, and it’s slow-moving enough that everyone has time to get out of the way before it passes. Either way, it’s badass, and really cool to see moving right through the middle of the path.

But even cooler than the train is the public bike transport. There are huge racks of public bikes all over the city. My friend told me that you pay about 30 euros for year, and you get a card that you can swipe at any of the racks. You just swipe the card, take a bike, and ride it to any of the other racks in the city. I was really impressed by this system–the only other place I’ve ever seen something like this was in Montreal, but I never learned the details about it there.

It just seems like such a good idea… first off, it’s cheap. 30 euros for a whole year? That’s incredible to me. Secondly, it’s really safe… the bike lanes are super wide, and any of the lanes that run next to a street with car traffic are separated from the road by huge dividers. Definitely better than just lines painted on the road. I feel like this would be a great way for kids to get around the city. Lastly, it’s environmentally friendly and good for your health! I know that sounds cheesy to say, but it’s a really easy way to get some exercise while you’re getting where you need to go, and at the same time it’s not creating any sort of emissions. I’m not a big environmentalist or anything, but I can’t help but see the advantages to this kind of system.

Overall, in my opinion, Sevilla is pretty amazing. I’d love to go back and explore more of the city… and if it’s at all possible, I really think I’m going to try to teach there! Like I said, I’ve still got to see other places in Spain, and maybe I need to see more of Sevilla too. But right now, the city is really appealing to me. We’ll just have to wait and see!

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