Sevilla and the Semana Santa Festival

In order to simplify things for you, I am going to combine all of my Seville visits into this one post. I actually ended up visiting Seville three separate times with trips to Portugal and Cadiz in-between within two weeks. And best of all, I’m just a little bit behind on blog posts so this will speed my catch up ;)

Sevilla ended up on my destination list due to a couple of reasons. Firstly it was the cheapest place in south Spain to fly to from Marrakech. Secondly Seville and Madrid were the only two places I’d even heard of in Spain before coming over to Europe (did I ever mention my geography skills are a bit lacking?). Thirdly there aren’t a huge number of festivals happening in Spain during April, but the Semana Santa festival happens to be Seville’s biggest annual festival and my main reason for returning to Seville for visit number two. And finally the last reason is that not only did I end up really really liking Sevilla (as in I felt like I could happily live here), but it’s the easiest place to get to south Portugal from. Hence my reason for visit number three.

My first day in Sevilla I went to a restaurant called Velmeria San Telmo as recommended by a hostel staff member. A few mouth orgasms later and I was hooked. I ended up eating my lunch there every day while in Sevilla which was about six days in total. Yum yum.

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This potato salad with mayonaise and tuna topped with shrimp and capsicum (spanish name ensaladilla rusa) was to die for

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A banoffee pie dessert that I ate in honour of my birthday

I did a couple of free walking tours and got what become known in the hostel as the Qwan Experience. Qwan was the guide for both of my tours. A really lovely Spanish chap who loved to talk. And talk. And then talk some more. A very passionate man about his city and the history with lots of gestures and what I can only describe as typical Spanish body movements. I’m the kind of person who is only good at listening for the first five minutes before switching off. So those tours were kinda terrible to be honest. That’s a good four-five hours of my life I’ll never get back. Why I went back for the second tour I’ll never know.

A couple of gems I did learn however. Sevilla is a very religious city although the people themselves aren’t actually hardcore believers. They merely act very over-religious with going to church many times a week, wearing big golden crosses and carrying around their favourite pictures of Jesus and the Virgin Mary in their wallets to compare with their friends. Huh. Apparently this is typical behaviour from since the inquisition where a lot of Muslims and Jews were persecuted. Acting oververtly Christian was a great way to not get suspected or killed. Seville also a very poor city apparently despite looking really rich and prosperous which is from the days when Spain colonised South America and had lots of gold.

Touristy things I saw included the outside of the cathedral (ever since seeing Sangrada Familia in Barcelona, all other cathedrals have been ruined for me and seem so boring in comparison. I rarely go inside many now especially if there is an entrance fee which this one did have), the Alzucar palace, Plaza de España, the bull ring, and the Flamenco museum. I probably could have packed more in since I was in Sevilla for a total of seven nights but hey, it was really nice a couple of chilled afternoons reading in the Plaza Espana gardens combined with long afternoon siestas and lazy late lunches at that favourite restaurant of mine.

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I love photographing swans 

 

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Pretty roses in the Plaza de España garden

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One of the many many churches within Sevilla

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The ‘Mushrooms’. A wooden structure you could go to the top of to view the city

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The bull ring – Plaza de Toros

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Some kayakers on the river

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Plaza de España – An amazing place to walk around

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The fountain in the centre of Plaza de España being photographed

I kept seeing these young girls in white dresses doing photo-shoots everywhere. I think it was to do with some Jewish coming-of-age thing

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At the Alcázar Place. Another stunning place to visit

20140420-140748.jpgA close up of some of the tile work on the walls of the Alcázar palace

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So many pretty Alcázar flowers

And of course there was the big Semana Santa festival going on for visits two and three. A.k.a Holy Week. Semana Santa always happens in the week right before Easter and is essentially a week-long celebration of Jesus and his ordeals over Easter. It involves every church in the city (and there are many many churches in the overtly religious Sevilla) doing a parade through the streets with a couple of two-ton heavy floats with elaborate religious scenes on top to the cathedral and back. Each float needs about fifty men to carry it and each parade procession lasts many hours with the longest being thirteen hours if your church is located really far away from the cathedral. That’s a long time to carry two ton. The processions would go all day and into the night until 3am.

Each float is accompanied by a full matching band and many of what looks like the Ku Klux klan. As I learned later on, apparently the KKK stole their costume idea from the Semana Santa festival.

A float emerges from a church

Interestingly it is considered a great honour to be one of the float carriers and due to high numbers of applications, each man is only able to do it once in a lifetime. Sometimes when the processions are cancelled to bad weather, it is not uncommon for grown Spanish men to be seen crying in the streets at their lost chance of being a float carrier.

The population of the city swells from the usual eight hundred thousand to about three million in total over the whole week. This makes the streets very very crowded. And if your intended path through the city happens to cut across one of the parade routes, you’ll need to be prepared to take a couple of hours to get through as people really pack in to watch the possessions. Claustrophobics are advised to stay home.

One of the many marching bands with a mini marcher

I should also point out that I am not religious myself. Not am I am atheist as I don’t strictly non-believe and actively dis-promote the church. I consider myself to be more of an agnostic spiritually where I don’t believe in a particular religion, but I also don’t disbelieve that there is or could be something out there. I do however like the idea that positive thinking and acts of kindness do generate brownie points or karma in general though.

Visit #1
Where I stayed: La Banda Rooftop Hostel
Price: €20 in a 6 bed dorm
Overall: Really liked this hostel. The bed was the most comfy bed I have *ever* slept on (with the possible exception being Shelley’s memory foam mattress I napped on once). Every night there was a dinner on which was a great chance to meet others and mingle with cheap drinks from the hostel bar. I felt the staff had great taste in music as I generally loved whatever was playing in the reception lounge area.

Visit #2 and 3
Where I stayed: Garden Backpacker
Price: €25 in a 12 bed dorm
Overall: I would have stayed in the La Banda hostel again quite happily but their prices were raised to €35 a night during the festival which I was not so keen to pay. My usual accommodation budget is more like €15 a night. The main thing that attracted me to Garden Backpackers is that the hostel has it’s own lovely garden as well as free sangria in the evenings. Admittedly it was only the cheap supermarket stuff but hey free is free! The hostel dinners each night were also cheap and extremely delicious. And mostly vegetarian which I really liked. Great to have a chance to catch up on my five-plus a day.

 

Happy Zombie Jesus Day from Snazzy

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2 thoughts on “Sevilla and the Semana Santa Festival

    • It really is truly amazing there. Although I did spend a little too long there and now having to rush the end of my Spain month oops

      On Thu, Apr 24, 2014 at 8:37 PM, Travelling Kiwi Chick Blog wrote:

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