As I crossed the city of Seville on foot with my little pink suitcase in tow I thought that I must indeed be crazy. I had just arrived at Seville’s Central Station on a regular summer day. The mercury just hit 37 degrees and fleetingly I was wondering why the asphalt hadn’t melted yet.
The sun was relentless, the air felt like breathing fire. Nobody in his right mind was out and about, only me and a handful of equally crazy people, tourists probably. It was the wrong time of day to arrive in Seville, but most importantly, it was the wrong season.
Sweat ran down the middle of my back, the hair in my neck stuck to my skin, the handle of my suitcase threatened to slip from my grasp on more than one occasion. I didn’t help that Seville’s streets were old. There were so old that sometimes only a single car would fit with no space for anything else, let alone me with my little pink suitcase.
Yet, there was something about visiting a hot destination that gave me great pleasure. Was it the feeling of achievement at the end of the day? The thought that all of us in this place were in this together, like a ship full of survivors drifting on a sea of lava? Or was it simply that special atmosphere, that particular quality of light, the warmth of the smells that made me appreciate the heat of summer day in Seville?
Views Over the City – Catching a Breeze
With all formalities of arrival sorted, it was time to hit the streets of Seville. This was not our first visit, which allowed us to explore some lesser known sights, such as the Metropol Parasol. A large wooden construction that oddly resembled the shape of mushrooms, which is why the Spanish preferred to call this structure Las Setas – the mushrooms – rather than Parasol – umbrella, even though parasol could also signify a particular type of mushroom.
This strange construct was located in the north of the old city centre of Seville and served mainly as a market space. However, we came here to enjoy the outstanding views of the sunbaked city, the organic lines of the building, and most importantly, the breeze.
As it was with many things in life, you have to face adversity to enjoy the small wins along the way. Walking to Las Setas in the scorching heat and exploring the observation platforms under the evil eye on the Spanish sun, it was a godsend relief to catch some of the balmy breezes that blew over the roofs of the city. In the shade of the wooden panels we enjoyed an ice cold drink and cooled down enough to face a walk to the next station of our walk, Plaza de España.
Cool air in the Park – Enjoying the Evening Atmosphere
Leaving the mazes of streets behind we followed the crowds to the green surrounds of Parque Maria Luisa. Plaza de España was more than just a square in a park. It was an ensemble of buildings that form a semicircle around a big spurting fountain. Bridges crossed a broad canal, you could rent a small rowing boat to glide along the neo-Moorish style buildings and under the bridges. Vendors all around, selling ice-creams and parasols and traditional fans. Horse carriages would start and end their rides here.
The sun was finally setting behind the trees, letting the exposition buildings first glow in shades of red and orange, then bathing them in a satisfying shadowy light. The temperatures hadn’t dropped a single bit, it was just as hot as it had been around lunch time. Yet, people gathered around the refreshing fountain, taking selfies with the water and the beautiful buildings as a backdrop.
There was a celebratory atmosphere at the Plaza de España, despite the heat, despite the strain. A clever man entertained the crowds with soap bubbles, adding little rainbow coloured baubles to the photos of people. Brides and grooms appeared with their photographers to make use of the soft evening lights for their wedding photography. In the shadow of the arches, fiery music reached our ears – it was the sound of flamenco played on a Spanish guitar, a beautiful dancer interpreting the music with passion and elegance.
Celebrating Survival and the Joy of Life
As the light faded and the day turned to night we returned to the city centre. All the restaurant tables were full, the streets packed with crowds, all in a celebratory mood at the end of a hot, endless summer day in the city. We were lucky to find a free table near the Cathedral, ordered croquettes and seafood salad and beers. Around us, the city was alive, the revellers came out to play, children and old people, visitors and locals.
I have been asked many times if it was a good idea to visit Seville in summer. Many times I have answered back to pick a better time. Looking back now I realise that there was indeed no better time to visit Seville than in summer. The city was made in summer, made for summer, made to enjoy summer.
Yes, it was hot in Seville, hotter than in most places in Spain. But at the same time, this was what Seville was all about. The heat was part of the city, just like the Cathedral, the river, the Royal Palace. I needed to experience a day like this with all its light, its breezes – sharing a passion for life with its survivors – to fully appreciate what Seville was all about.
Enjoy the rest of the photos!