What is Student Life like in Seville?
A popular Erasmus destination, the Andalusian capital is certainly not lacking in nightclubs. However, without wishing to deny the quality of these, it’s worth highlighting that Seville’s nightlife has far more to offer – and with dancing off the cards for the time being perhaps it’s time to explore! The epicentre? Alemeda de Hércules. Located to the north of the main tourist district, this area is known for its bars which offer a wide variety of music from jazz (in Naima) to open mic events … and for those of you who prefer something a little more ‘street’, if you head towards the central square at the weekend – recognisable for its large statues of Hercules and Caesar – you’re sure to find some kind of spontaneous live music played by the students that often gather there.
On visiting Seville you’d be forgiven for thinking you’d landed in an Arab nation – from the Real Alcázar to the Giralda (a former minaret that makes up the bell tower of the current cathedral), the Moorish influence on the city’s architecture is unmissable. Indeed, it seems that the sevillanos were so fond of it that they even built the famous Plaza de España (constructed for the 1929 Iberian-American exhibition) in a neo-mudéjar style.
This said, the cityscape has evolved a fair bit since its days as part of the Al-Andalus Empire; these days it boasts a wide variety architecture from roman ruins to its iconic cathedral, supposedly the largest gothic cathedral in the world. The Metropol Parasol is also not to be forgotten. Known locally as las setas (the mushrooms) for its toadstool-like appearance, you’re able to take a lift to the top of this wooden construction for just a few euros with a free drink included (or at least it was in ‘my day’!) …. a bargain, and much appreciated on a student budget. Offering views across the city and out into the countryside beyond, it’s an ideal spot to watch the sun go down – although I’d recommend arriving early and being prepared to queue as its impressive views are no secret!
Although it’s a city, Seville has numerous public parks. While the most famous is perhaps el Parque de María Luisa where you’ll find the Plaza de España and its small moat and rowing boats, I’d also recommend the Parque de los Príncipes, located across the Guadalquivir river in the Los Remedios neighbourhood. I’ve many fond memories of settling down with a good book in the shade of its orange trees and surrounded by the scent of orange blossom, away from the hustle and bustle of the tourist-filled city-centre.
As a vegetarian, I don’t mind admitting I was a little nervous about my move to the land of jamón ibérico but my time there revealed I needn’t have been so worried. In addition to offering the typical tapas dishes found throughout Spain, Andalucía has a few gems of its own. Among my favourite (veggie) tapas dishes are espinacas con garbanzos (a dish made of spinach, chickpeas and – naturally – olive oil), salmorejo (just make sure to ask for this gazpacho type soup without the ham on top) and berenjenas con miel (fried aubergine and honey) – it’s vegetables so it’s healthy, right?
Some specific sites to add to your itinerary:
La Gorda: although it’s quite a touristy tapas bar, La Gorda is reasonably priced and has an extensive menu. Located just across the road from the Guadalquivir river, it’s also an ideal spot if you fancy a post-dinner stroll beneath the purple jacaranda trees that are dotted along the riverbank.
Dúo tapas: if you’re looking for something a little different, the food in this bar – known for its fusion of old and new – will not disappoint. And if that wasn’t enough, those of you looking to keep up your social media presence will be pleased to hear it’s all served in a very ‘instagramable’ fashion.
Casa Morales: good vibes, good tapas, good price… need I say more? A word of caution though, be prepared to stand as it’s nigh on impossible to nab a table at this one.
It would be criminal to write a post about Seville without mentioning flamenco, the dance we all think of when someone mentions España, and that originated in the Andalucía region. If you wander past the Puerta de Jerez or stop by the Plaza de España during the day you might be lucky enough to witness a free performance (donations welcome!). Alternatively, if you prefer to sit back and relax with a caña (beer) in hand, head to la Carbonería in calle Céspedes, but don’t be late as this bar’s long benches are quick to fill up.
The Feria de Abril:
Around two weeks after Easter, women dressed in beautiful flamenco dresses and smartly dressed men fill the streets of Seville, all with one destination in mind: the festival site of the Feria de Abril. Located in Los Remedios, it’s made up of more than a thousand casetas – individual marquee type constructions – each with their own bar, food and music. A highlight of the Sevillian calendar, the Feria offers the perfect opportunity to show off your newly learned sevillana skills – a variation of flamenco that’s danced in pairs – while keeping yourself hydrated with a glass (or jug???) of rebujito, a drink typical of the Feria made of manzanilla and lemonade.
While it’s true that many of the casetas are private (no membership, no entry), you don’t have to be sevillan to be able to enjoy the festival – keep an eye out for the public casetas run by the city council so you can live the Andalusian dream and eat, drink and dance until dawn.