My travels

Sevilla: An unknown gem in southern Spain

photo of my friend and I in Sevilla

In the summer of 2007, I studied abroad for six weeks in Sevilla, Spain, and it was an experience that I will never forget. Sevilla is located in southern Spain and is the capital of the state of Andalucia. I took two classes there; one on Spanish culture taught by a native of Spain and the other on Andalucian literature taught by Dr. Luis Castro, a UF professor of Spanish. I stayed with a family who provided my roommate and I with wonderful home-cooked food and loving support. The weather was hot like Gainesville, but without the humidity which made all the difference. While I was there, I got used to taking siestas in the middle of the day, and that's reason enough to live in Spain. We walked everywhere and it was never a problem. If a restaurant or museum was particularly far, we took a taxi. Our university there partnered us with native Spanish students, and every Thursday night we would meet up for tapas, or appetizers eaten as a meal, and just chat. Over the weekends we would take excursions to neighboring cities like Toledo, Cordoba and Granada. One long holiday weekend, a couple of us flew over to Florence where other UF students were studying. The flight was very cheap, and once you are in Europe, traveling between countries is a breeze. By the end of the trip, we were pros at greeting each other with kisses on each cheek and using the word "vale" for OK. The trip flew by like all good things do and I hope to one day return to the beautiful city of Sevilla.

A history buff's paradise

The origins of Sevilla date back to Roman times and the city has a long and culturally diverse history. This is best exemplified by its monuments. Sevilla's cathedral is one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in Europe and its distinguishing characteristic is the Giralda, a bell tower which was originally a minaret when the Moors occupied the city. The Alcazar is the old Moorish palace and its architecture is a mix of Muslim and Renaissance styles. Just the gardens of the palace are worth seeing. The Torro de Oro sits right on the Guadalquivir River and was built as a watchtower to defend the city from attack. Sevilla also has its share of old parks, the most famous of which is Parque de Maria Luisa, which I had the pleasure of walking through every day on the way to class.

Culture without boundaries

Sevilla is rich in culture and tradition, and I never ran out of things to see or learn about. Sevillanos are devout Catholics and the whole city shuts down for holidays and festivals. I was able to experience one holiday, and I watched as everyone came out to the streets to watch a large procession of church clergy and residents. The food in southern Spain is very distinct, and some local favorites include gazpacho (cold tomato soup), ham, seafood, spinach and snails. Everything is cooked in olive oil. Bullfighting is extremely popular and thousands come out to watch the sport in which only the most fit and athletic men come out triumphant. Sevilla is also the backdrop of the famous story of Don Juan.

Read this before your trip to Sevilla!

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