It’s been a little under a month since my brother and I returned from our Europe excursion to revisit my home away from home, Seville.
It’s been very difficult to write this because reflecting on it triggers the sense that this experience is over.
The first thing I can say that made my heart warm was how much Matt loved the Spanish cuisine. Anything and everything he tried with an open mind and loved pretty much everything we ate. … Except for an unfortunate dish of tomatoes.
(Side note: don’t go to restaurants around the Cathedral, they are tourist traps. I knew that, but somehow got sucked into a restaurant that was advertising vegan meals, since we craved greens or something that wasn’t salted ancient ham or fried fish.)
We nearly gasped when we saw a vegan restaurant, and we were so happy we ordered a big salad for the two of us. Matt sat there, all excited to eat something sustaining and good for his body, but boy did this dish do nothing but disappoint.
We saw the server come out from the kitchen with literally, I kid you not, about 12 thin sliced tomatoes with a garnish and vegan cream cheese. The cream cheese is great, and most who know me know how much I appreciate healthy vegan food, but 18 euros for sliced tomatoes just seemed absurd. The best part? I got to eat every last bit. My brother took one bite and nearly convulsed.
I mean, he was just not eating that. I laughed extremely hard as he tried to contain his hunger as I sucked down enough vitamin C, vitamin A, and biotin to last me the week.
After that, we naturally had to get a second lunch because well, Matt didn’t eat anything.
We had heard great things about this little bar Bodega Santa Cruz which is in the Barrio de Santa Cruz, the neighborhood directly behind the Cathedral. It was exactly what we needed. Hundreds of tapas for max 4 euros a piece.
We had our eye on the paella and some small montaditos (little sandwiches) with the famous tortilla de patatas (egg and potato casserole-type thing) or aged jamón ibérico (super old, salty, delicious curated ham). So delicious. Be sure to come here if you’re ever in Seville. The bartenders are sure to make you laugh and feel at home, and that’s why I come back to this great place. When you’re here, everyone’s family.
Check out some of the other amazing dishes we had in Seville and where they can be found:
Empanadillas [2€] (little empanadas) found in Mercado Lonja del Barranco
This market has everything you ever need to taste in Spain available at your fingertips. Croquetas (fried pureed cod with potatoes or any other meat/cheese), empanadas, paella, wine, beer, you name it, they’ve got it. This is your one stop shop for all things tasty for an affordable price.
Tortilla de Patatas [3€] found in Mercado Lonja del Barranco
Tortilla de patatas is the Spanish omelette made with eggs and potatoes, sometimes it can have onions included. This place that sold enormous slices like this one below had green tinted ones for a spinach omelette, a black tinted one for Octopus’ ink, and a red one for a pepper infused one. The orange-looking dip is salmorejo, another famous Spanish dish that is a cousin to gazpacho, but a thicker, creamier version.
Matt practically lived on this. He had it for breakfast and an early dinner snack every day. It’s that good.
Croquetas [5€] found in Mercado Lonja del Barranco
These little bites of heaven are famous tapas throughout Spain and are breaded and fried purée of pretty much anything minced with potatoes. I ordered the ham croquetas, which had finely chopped ham bits with potatoes and sometimes egg covered in breadcrumbs and fried. The inside can be of cheese, just potatoes, veggies, eggs, fish, etc. These are a staple in Spain!
Montaditos [1€] (little sandwiches) found at 100 Montaditos
100 Montaditos is a place where dreams do come true. 100 tiny sandwiches, which all come with a side of chips, are at your disposal for 1 euro. That’s it. They even have gluten-free beer and bread options! If we weren’t really that hungry, but wanted to munch, we went here. And they even had salads for under 4 euro if you were recovering from a carb overload. This place is amazing. We need these for the late nights out because it’s a little portion and you won’t regret eating it in the morning because they’re so tiny and cute.
Paella [5€] (spanish rice with seafood, veggies, and/or chicken)
You can never go wrong with paella, ever.
Food wasn’t all we loved, but it definitely was a big part of our happiness.
A highlight we both vividly remember was the climb up and down the Cathedral. A change in perspective makes appreciating an innately beautiful place that much more meaningful. Seville was beautiful on the ground looking up but the view from the bell tower of the Cathedral was simply jaw-dropping. The 34 ramp climb was well worth it.
The experience is interesting. You leave the main Cathedral and these views
…to the dark and dim hallways that lead up to the tower. You’ll climb a few stories in a very dark environment to find a crevice of light that increasingly climbs with intensity as stories rise.
…Until you eventually reach this….
I showed Matt where I studied and he was amazed. I’m still dumbfounded by the mere fact I was able to call this place home for a blip in my life that felt like an eternity while I was living it.
We spent one night watching the sun set along the Guadalquivir River. We sat at the edge of the river, with our feet almost brushing the surface of the tranquil water. I showed Matt Calle Betis from a distance and how the colors of the buildings were purposeful, to indicate to sailors where certain produce should go. Now it’s a bar hopper’s paradise. Pretty cool and now it makes for an excellent photo opportunity.
It was when we were here where I started to feel something other than joy and nostalgia, but a touch of sadness and reflection on my time spent here. I sat in this same place with different people who truly made my experience the positive one it was. Without the people I studied abroad with and the luck I had in having such an incredible group, I might not feel the same way about this place.
That’s how I feel about most places I visit. The people are the largest part of the culture that determines how I feel. The intensity of my experiences are measured by the spectrum of people I encounter. This may have large in part due to the fact that I crave to hear stories from people and that I feel most complete when I feel that I have truly connected with someone on some level. I am a social person by every means of the word. It makes sense that travel is addicting for me due to the fact that I get to meet different people of all walks of life but who somehow always have a common ground with you in some way shape or form.
Sitting in this exact spot I sat with the small group of unique individuals that forever changed my life, felt odd. It was really touching to revisit this place, but in some way it didn’t feel complete just in this one spot. It was a ritual we all did together, and since I was there without them, it made me realize how much my experiences are shaped by the people my life’s path crosses with. But the beauty is, my feelings towards all of those people were so true, so real, that I am capable of having those deep feelings upon simply sitting in one specific spot in Seville. To feel something so profound is tough but also something I am extremely thankful for. It just means study abroad was the absolute best it could’ve been for me and I was lucky enough to meet the people I did.
Sharing it with my brother flipped the sadness to happiness, for I looked at his face and the small smile he had appearing and I just hoped that this trip made him realize that we live in such a small bubble and seeing more than what we’re comfortable with will surprise you in the best ways possible. It will give you fulfillment you didn’t know you were craving or needed.
Matt and I had a great time together, and I feel incredibly lucky to have the relationship I do with my two brothers. To be able to travel without killing each other is a blessing in itself. This was a trip I will never ever forget, and part in because I got to share an enormous part of passion and love for Spanish with someone I love just as much and even more.
Thanks for an unforgettable trip, Matt – it wouldn’t have been the same had I’d gone alone. You made this trip!