Street art in Seville & Granada

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Seville’s riverbanks are the most popular canvases for graffiti artists


Seville is a beautiful city full of historical architecture and sites, yet beyond the tourists attractions, the city is also full of cool, creative and colourful street art and graffiti. I was not aware of the street art scene in Seville before my trip and so I was quite pleasantly surprised by what I saw.

The subculture of graffiti has evolved over the past few decades and now it is part of the urban landscape in cities around the world. Graffiti artists use their cities as their canvases and gallery space to express themselves, whilst gaining fans and followers around the world. In my opinion, the urban art represent the city more than what is displayed inside galleries or museums. And with the economic downturn and high unemployment rate in Spain, the streets are probably the best outlets for frustrated youths or artists.


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In Seville, the riverbanks are the best graffiti and street art gallery in the city, and the long stretch of collection is very impressive. Elsewhere in the city, random art work can also be seen, notably on garage entrances and shop gates/shutters, though the style is more ‘polished’ and decorative. I think using art to decorate a boring garage entrance or shopfront is a wonderful idea, it also reflects the artistic and aesthetics value of the city.


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Decorative art work painted on garage entrances and shop gates in Seville


Interestingly, graffiti in Granada has a slightly different style (from the ones I saw), usually less ‘polished’ and with comics influence.


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Graffiti in Granada is unique and often humourous


The two well-know graffiti/ street artists working in Seville and Granada are Lahe ( a female artists based in Seville) and Raúl Ruiz ( based in Granada), and I will try and seek out their work when I visit the two cities next time.


Flamenco in Andalusia


Street artists performing in Granada


Flamenco is originated from the Romani people ( also known as Gitanos) living in Andalusia centuries ago, with influences from the Moors, the Jews, and the Mozarabic. Many foreigners do not realise that the essence of flamenco is not the dance itself, but rather the cante (song), one of the four components of flamenco, along with toque (playing the guitar), baile (dance) and Jaleo (handclapping, foot stomping and shouts etc). And out of the different cante styles, cante jondo (deep song) is considered to be the oldest and the most distinctive.

Not surprisingly, flamenco has become a ‘key attraction’ in the region. Flamenco performances take place daily from the streets to cafes, bars, museums and various music venues. Some are tourists traps and the standards may not be up to scratch, so it is important to get some recommendations beforehand.

As a fan of different dance forms and music styles, I frequently watch performances at Sadlers Wells and its Flamenco festival is one of my favourites because it always feature world-renowned flamenco dancers and musicians. Hence, I was keen to see an authentic show in the birthplace of flamenco.


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Casa de la Guitarra in Seville


Luckily, I was not disappointed… while I was in Seville, I saw a passionate and mesmerising performance at Casa de la Guitarra, featuring an award-winning Cuban dancer, Yasaray Rodríguez, Manuel Romero (singer) and Javier Gómez (Guitarist). And I could tell by the audience’s reaction afterwards that every person in the room was touched by the heartfelt performance. The three performers all played equal parts, and non over-shadowed the other throughout the show.

The center was founded by the well-known flamenco guitarist José Luis Postigo from Seville whose career spans over 45 years and has made over 60 albums with famous flamenco artists. Although the venue is quite small, it houses an amazing flamenco guitar collections dating back to the 19th century, and it features an original 12th century archway (see above) which was part of a traditional Arab bath. This venue is truly one of the best in the city.

For other authentic performances, it is also worth checking out Seville’s working class district of Triana, the supposed birthplace of flamenco. Whether this is the truth or not is hard to tell but it is certainly the birthplace for many famous flamenco singers and musicians and they are commemorated by the ceramic tile plaques in the area.




Middle: Flamenco festival posters; Right: Lina’s exhibition at Seville Musuem of Arts and Traditions


Besides music venues, traditional flamenco fashion and accessories can be seen at Seville Musuem of Arts and Traditions. During my visit, I saw an exhibition of the well-known flamenco fashion designer, Marcelina Fernandez, also known as Lina. Since 1960, Lina has been creating flamboyant and exquisite flamenco ‘couture’ dresses and wedding gowns, and it was eye-opening as I did not realise that there was a couture market for flamenco fashion!


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Top left & right: Plaques made of ceramic tiles in Triana commemorating flamenco dancers and musicians; Bottom: flamenco bars in Seville


Most cities in Andalusia also have a flamenco museum, but I think the best way to try and understand the music and dance style is to watch the performances or listen to the music and ‘feel’ the emotions and passion esp. for those of us who do not understand the lyrics. After all, these two elements are the common language shared between humans regardless of the race, age, gender and culture. Perhaps the music or dance style may evolve in the future, but hopefully, the flamenco spirit will live on.


The joy of (window) shopping in Andalusia

The reason why I don’t write much about shopping in London is partly because I don’t enjoy it these days and do most of my shopping online. I avoid Oxford street and Tottenham Court Road like the plague, and I find shopping in central London extremely uninspiring. Specialists and independent shops are hard to find and even areas like Notting Hill and Islington are becoming more mainstream, and so we are left with Shoreditch, Bethnal Green, Stoke Newington, Brixton, Dalston or Lamb Conduit Street for something different.

High streets in London or Britain are now dominated by chains (with a few exceptions), they are becoming homogeneous with no distinctive characters nor individuality. And we wonder why the British high streets are dying whilst e-commerce is booming? A friend from abroad visited London last summer and we went to Richmond for the day… I was horrified by its high street because despite the historical facade, the shops are no different from the ones in Westfield or Tunbridge Wells. Do the public want the same shops in every city and town? I doubt it.



Top left: Ale hop shop; Top right: Design in Andalusia products; Bottom left: Maspapeles stationery shop: Bottom right: Camden shop in Seville


In Andalusia, however, I was thrilled to see traditional and specialist shops next to secondhand or trendy designer boutiques. Yes, there are some chained shops and touristy souvenirs but they are not in every corner, independent/specialists shops co-exist with chained ones and the balance is just right. There are shops selling flamenco outfits, fans, fabrics, crafts, hair accessories, hats and ceramics etc. Also, the art of visual merchandising is celebrated here, even a hardware store would take the time to make their window display ‘appealing’ to passerby. If only shops in the U.K. could understand the impact of display aesthetics on their shops, then perhaps our high streets could still be ‘saved’.


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Top left and midde: La Libelula; Top right and 2nd row right: Maria Gavira; Bottom left: A shopping street in Granada; Bottom right: A espadrille/ shoe shop in Cordoba


Here are some shops that I stumbled upon during my trip, as a bigger city, Seville offers a lot more in terms of shopping but the other two cities also offer some traditional and specialists shops:


La Libelula (Calle Cuna, 45, Alfalfa) – A multi-storey fashion and home furnishings shop with an airy courtyard, florist, exhibition area and cafe. The shop stocks from many new/ up and coming Spanish designers, so it is a good place to check out the names from the local fashion scene.

Wabi Sabi shop and gallery (Viriato, 9, La Macarena) – Located north of the city centre, although the shop uses the Japanese term, ‘wabi sabi’ ( aesthetics or beauty that is imperfect or impermanent), its shop theme is not actually Japanese. It is a lifestyle shop that specialises in contemporary art and design, covering fashion, home furnishings, recycled antique furniture, books, art and crafts, and it also has an online shop, gallery and workshop space for various events to take place.

Maria Gavira (Calle Mateos Gago 29, Santa Cruz) – I came across this small fashion/ accessories shop in Santa Cruz and was greeted by the lovely owner, Maria. She doesn’t speak much English, but we ended up communicating in French ( it turns out that my rustic French can be useful in certain circumstances). Maria uses textiles to create beautiful fashion accessories and home furnishings ( you can see her handmade shower caps and decorations in the photos above), but she also stocks an interesting range from other craftsmen and fashion brands. After making my purchase, Maria was keen to recommend some tapas and flamenco places and she marked them all down for me on my map! Her hospitality really touched me, but best of all, she is a passionate designer/maker and I felt like we bonded very quickly. This proves that language and culture is never a barrier when you share similar values and passion.



Top left, right and 2nd row middle: Galerias Madrid; 2nd row left: Raquel Terán; 3rd row: Ashop near Plaza de Jesús de la Pasión selling hair accessories for Catholics; 4th row right: Traditional fans at Dizal; Last row right: Enrique Sanchis


Galerias Madrid (Calle Cuna, 42, Alfalfa) – If you love fabric, you will love this multi-storey store that sells fabrics and textiles for upholstery and apparel including all the trimmings for a flamenco dress!

Raquel Terán (Calle Francos, 6, Alfalfa) – if you are looking for flamboyant, vintage-like and feminine flamenco fashion, you will it here! The style is rich, colourful and full of trimmings, and they even have a children’s collection.

Dizal (Calle Sierpes 48, Alfalfa) – Traditional fans can be found here and at Diza (no.75) at affordable prices.

Maspapeles (Calle Zaragoza, 17) – A stationery shop that sells a range of quality notebooks, pens, wrapping paper and boxes etc.

Enrique Sanchis (Calle Sierpes 19, Alfalfa) – It’s hard to miss this century-old watchmaker’s shop front ( see photo above), it is especially known for its array of antique timepieces.


Ceramics and tiles

The district of Triana has been producing azulejos (ceramic tiles) since Roman times and it is named after the Roman Emperor Trajanus. The area was once full of ceramic workshops and potteries, unfortunately as the trade diminishes, workshops are now hard to find, and only a handful of ceramic or souvenir shops are left. However, a new Centro Ceramica Triana (ceramic musuem) is due to open soon after much delay.


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Main: Ceramica Santa Ana; 2nd row left: Ceramica La Aliaza; 2nd row middle: Emilio García Ortiz; Second row right and bottom row: Populart


Ceramica Santa Ana (Calle San Jorge, 31, Triana) – Sadly, I just found out that this famous ceramic shop has closed its doors ( I thought it was just closed on the day I visited), but the impressive facade is still worth the time if you happen to be in the area.

Populart ( Pasaje de Vila 4, Santa Cruz) – this wonderful Andalusian ceramic and tile shop is close to the Cathedral and sells a wide range of antique and contemporary tiles and potteries suitable for all budgets. A must-stop for all tile lovers!


Artisans and specialists


One of the most interesting and unique sight in Andalusia is that many craftsmen and artisans are happy to ‘show-off’ their skills and expertise publicly. Passerby can watch or peek into their open studio or workshop to see the artisans at work, which I think is a great ( and free) way to market themselves!

Ceramica Elhumo ( C/ Corregidor Luis de la Cerda 68) – Two local artists, Valle Sillero and Jesús Rey run a small studio/shop that allows passerby to admire their sculpting skills. They use a special Raku technique to make clocks, lamps, pots, human and animal figures, home decorations and paintings that are inspired by the local culture.

Sala El Potro (13 Plaza del Potro) – this small art gallery in the famous Plaza del Potro sells limited edition prints and original artwork by emerging and established Andalucian artists. The gallery also has an online shop for those who want your art to be delivered to your door without going all the way to Cordoba!


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Top row: Sombrerería Herederos de J Rusi; Bottom left: An artisan at work in his studio in Cordoba; Bottom middle: Ceramica elhumo


Sombrerería Herederos de J Rusi (Calle Conde de Cardenas 1) – Originally from Cordoba, the famous and award-winning Spanish hat-maker has a small and charming shop that keeps its family traditions and craftsmanship alive. Opened since 1903, it feels like little has changed over the years, I just love the rows of circular hat boxes neatly stacked on the shelves! Although I did not buy any hats, I felt good knowing that traditional and quality craftsmanship is still being appreciated in our disposable culture today.


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Daniel Gil de Avalle 



Daniel Gil de Avalle (Plaza del Realejo, 15) – A chance to see the guitarrero (guitar maker) at work through its large window at this longstanding music shop that specialises in handmade classical and flamenco guitars.


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Top left and middle: Artesano manuel morillo in Granada; Top right: a Marquetry shop inside the Alhambra; 2nd row left: traditional toys sold at the Palacio de Viana shop in Cordoba. Main: a local craft shop at Plaza de la Corredera in Cordoba.


Artesano Manuel Morillo (Calle Ánimas, 1) – Tarecea (marquetry) is a traditional craft originated from the Moors and is unique to Granada in Spain. Manuel Morillo Castillo is a craftsman who makes marquetry boxes, objects and chess sets, and you can watch him at work in his shop near Plaza Nueva. I bought a few boxes (under €10) as souvenir for friends and family and they all love the design and craftsmanship, and they look more expensive than what I paid for!


Vintage and collectibles

Throughout my trip I came across many vintage, retro and collectible shops which I didn’t expect before the trip. From vintage stamps to dolls, toys and books, Andalusia is great for those who love everything nostalgic!


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3rd row left: Cuevas Juguetería Técnica; 4th row right: Le Secret de Carmen in Seville; 4th row left, middle and 5th row: El Laberino in Cordoba.



Le Secret de Carmen (Candilejo 8) – a small shop dedicated to Carmen! They sell antiquities, vintage articles, books, posters, CD and records around Carmen and Seville.

F. Cuevas Jugueteria tecnica (Plaza de San Francisco, 16) – this is no ordinary toy shop, it sells cars, trains and plane models, figurines, dolls and accessories, kitchenettes etc from all eras and for all ages. You can find antique and collectible toys that are geared towards adults who have a nostalgic streak, and unfortunately they also come with rather high price tags.


El Laberino (Ronda de Isasa 4) – I love secondhand bookshops, and so I was excited when I saw this spacious riverside bookshop. Apart from many Spanish classics, there are also vintage children’s books, magazines, printed matters and books in other languages.



Eat, drink and be merry in Andalusia


Dining out in Andalusia is a social activity with friends or with your local bartenders and neighbours


For some reason, Spanish cuisine is not as popular and as ‘recognised’ internationally as Italian cuisine. Perhaps it has something to do with its cooking varying a great deal from region to region, and that authentic Spanish restaurants outside of Spain were hard to come by until a few years ago. The rise of Michelin star restaurants like elBulli ( due to reopen as a creative centre in 2016) finally brought the spotlight back to Spanish cuisine again. And in cosmopolitan cities like London, New York and Hong Kong, a sudden surge of contemporary tapas bars and restaurants are also changing people’s perception of Spanish cuisine esp. on tapas. The ‘makeover’ seems to be working as tapas bars are now becoming more popular than ever outside of Spain.

I love the concept of tapas, humble food served in small portions shared among friends paired with wine ( or sherry in Spain) is my ideal night out. I did a cooking holiday in Italy 2 1/2 years ago, and although the food was fresh and delicious, after a week of cheese, pasta and multi-course meals, I felt rather bloated and it was reflected on my weighing scale back home!


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Main: Bar El Comercio; Bottom middle: Bar Manolo


This trip though, I tried out many dishes at each meal and yet I didn’t put on any weight afterwards. OK, it wasn’t a cooking holiday but overall I found the food less heavy and the portion sizes more acceptable. I was eager to try as many different dishes as possible, but by the end of the trip, I still had many that I wanted to try but didn’t quite manage…

I was equally impressed by the quality of wine (and the prices), the house wines are usually excellent ( which doesn’t always happen in other countries) and even for a red wine lover like myself, I thoroughly enjoyed the few occasions when I ordered white.

Food and wine aside, ambience is a key part of dining out in Andalusia and it is more of a social activity as you often see people hanging inside and outside of popular tapas bars with friends drinking and nibbling in late afternoons or evenings. I rarely saw fast-food or coffee shop chains, people there love their local restaurants and bars, which is a far cry from the chain-dominated London! When I travel, I try to look for authentic restaurants that the locals love, these places I believe reflect the local culture and they are the best for people-watching.


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Top left: deep-fried aubergine; top middle: artichokes; top right: cod ceviche with peppers with crispy artichokes (surprisingly yummy); bottom left: Pimientons de Padron (one of my favourite tapas dishes); bottom right: paella and grilled tuna with roasted vegetables (tapas portions!)


Here are some of the places that I tried during my trip, some are recommended by locals, some via the internet and the rest… simply by chance…



Casa Morales (Calle García de Vinuesa, 11) – Founded in 1850, this bodega located near the Cathedral is often recommended in guidebooks. Yet it was packed with only locals when I was there, could it be partly due to their Spanish-only menu ( which I often view as a positive sign)?

I love the old-style and rustic decorations here, the front room is bar area and the seated area is located in the back, which is filled with enormous tinajas (stoneware sherry/wine barrels). The prices here are reasonable and the food/wine quality is good, but it is the vibe/ambience makes this place charming and unique.

El Rinconcillo (Calle Gerona, 40) is the oldest tapas bar in Seville (since 1670), but due to its location ( away from the touristy Santa Cruz), it is more of a local than a tourist attraction! Like Casa Morales, this place feels authentic and even more rustic with service that is slightly abrupt ( but not rude). It was fun to eat standing and sharing a small table with a local, sometimes it is not the food that matters the most but the experience ( luckily, the food here is not too bad either)…


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Top, 2nd row left and middle: Casa morales; 2nd row right, third and last row: El Rinconcillo



After trying out the traditional places, it was time to try the contemporary restaurants to see how the cuisine has evolved, and one of the most highly rated place is La Azotea, which has several branches in the city.

La Azotea (C/ Mateos Gago, 8) – although this branch is located on a street full of touristy restaurants right off the Cathedral, it is not that touristy and the standard is a cut above the rest. The dishes are creative and beautifully presented, yet the prices are surprisingly reasonable for what you get. The vibe is relaxing and not overly trendy, I certainly would have returned to try out more dishes if I had the time.

Los Palillos (Calle Huelva 22, esq. Plaza de la Pescaderia) – I stumbled upon this small sushi/ jamon bar while looking for food in the area, the minimal and contemporary decor is rather inviting. I was curious to try some Spanish/ Japanese fusion cuisine, and the waiter was friendly and eager to help me with their menu. After trying a few dishes, I felt that some worked better than others, and the fusion was not as obvious ( which may not be a bad thing). However, the ingredients are fresh and the dishes are well cooked and presented, so it was a pleasant discovery ( as I later discovered that the restaurant is very popular with the locals because it filled up within 1/2 hour after my arrival).


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 Top left, right and main: La Azotea; Bottom left and right: Los Palillos


Breakfast, dulces and helados

I am not a morning person and I don’t usually eat a lot for breakfast either, but coffee is essential to me, so café con leche (coffee with milk) became my staple in Andalusia.

When I travel, I tend to get up earlier and would have breakfasts before setting off. The problem I discovered in Andalusia was that not many cafes would open before 10am, so I had to wander the streets to search for my morning staple. And by chance, I discovered a cafe in Seville’s Santa Cruz which offers buffet breakfast with coffee and fresh orange juice for only €2, what a bargain! But my favourite breakfast is some good coffee with a simple but delicious tostada con tomate ( toast with tomato), which I thought was the best way to start my day.

In general, I find Spanish pastries slightly too sweet, a friend recommended polvoron to me before my trip, so I bought some from the famous and historical Confiteria La Campana (since 1885) but was not fond of the strong cinnamon taste. Later though, I discovered that the most authentic and fun way to buy dulces ( pastries/ cookies/ sweets) is from local convents via a rotating tray/lazy Susan from some invisible nuns! The sweets are usually made by the convent’s nuns from traditional recipes, unfortunately, with fewer nuns and convents these days, the trade is slowly disappearing… I managed to buy a box of almond polvoron from Convento de Santa Ana in Cordoba with the help of someone working there. Although the experience was delightful, I would find it too daunting to do it without help due to my limited Spanish vocabulary!


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Top right and 2nd row left: A €2 buffet breakfast in central Seville; 2nd row middle: my favourite breakfast: tostada with tomato at Gaudi Juda Levi in Cordoba; 2nd right: buying dulce at Convento de Santa Ana in Cordoba; Main and bottom right: Confiteria La Campana in Seville; bottom left: Tejas Dulces de Sevilla


Tejas Dulces de Sevilla (Plaza de Jesús de la Pasión 13, Seville) – I walked past this small shop in the city centre and was offered to sample their homemade and natural almond biscuits. These crunchy biscuits are delicious and not too sweet, so I bought a small pack and asked the shop lady about the beautiful blue glassware on the shelves. Apparently, the hand-blown glassware were produced by Crystals La Trinidad, a traditional glass factory that started in 1900 but ceased production in 1999, and these were the remnants from their former factory ( see above).

Helados (ice cream) is popular in Seville, and there are several famous ice cream parlours here. However, being in January meant that many were closed, yet I managed to try a few scoops from Helados La Abuela (Calle Larana, 10) and 1929. The ice cream at 1929 was a bit too sweet for me, the latter was better though not particularly outstanding, I guess it had something to do with the season too.



Left: 1929; Right: Helados La Abuela



With many reputable restaurants closed during my stay in Cordoba, I was left with some overpriced and touristy choices, but thanks to the recommendation of my hotel’s concierge, I visited El Mercado Victoria ( Paseo de La Victoria), an indoor gourmet market housed inside a 19th century building just outside of the old town. There are about 30 stalls selling tapas, seafood, wine, olives, and other cuisines like Japanese and Italian. This is not fine dining, it’s more like an upmarket food court, but it is fun, relaxing, clean and it attracts mainly locals. If you want to get away from the touristy restaurants in the old town, this place is definitely worth visiting.

With the limited cafe choices for breakfast in old town, it was a relief when I found Gaudi Juda Levi ( Plaza Juda Levi s/n), a contemporary cafe that offers good coffee, breakfast, relaxing atmosphere and friendly service.

While I was walking around the town, I came across an artisan bakery ( since 1880), Horno de la Cruz ( Gongora, 2)with a short queue of locals outside, so I decided to join and try it out… Although their pies looked very tempting, I went for some bread and almond cake instead, the bread that I had was ok but the cake was moist and soft, and tasted even better than I imagined, so it was a pleasant surprise.

After eating Spanish/tapas for days, all I wanted was some salad and something slightly different… I noticed that salads in tapas bars seem to be pricier and ‘fancier’ ( with not much green), so I opted for the Moroccan tea house near my hotel, Salón de Té ( Buen Pastor, 13). The place is decorated in Moorish style with a lovely courtyard, and it was almost empty when I was there. I had a mixed salad with pita bread and mint tea, it was what I wanted, so I left the place fairly satisfied.


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Top left, right, 2nd row middle, 3rd row right: El Mercado Victoria; 2nd row left: Horno de la Cruz; 2nd row right: The bar at Círculo de la Amistad; Third row left: Gaudi Juda Levi; Bottom left and right: Salón de Té



Two of my favourite eateries during my trip happen to locate in Granada, and one of them is only a cafe hidden in Albayzin. Although I was staying in a hotel nearby, it still took me a while to find Café 4 Gatos ( Placeta Cruz Verde, 6), but it was definitely worth it! Since there aren’t many cafes for breakfasts in the area, this cafe already has its advantage, but it offers much more than that. I love the relaxing and friendly vibe here, the clientele is mainly local and seem to know the owner well. Their coffee is great and they offer a wide variety of tostadas, though the downside is that since it is rather small ( basically a L-shaped bar with some outdoor tables and seating), you can’t linger for too long as it gets busier after 11am. I was so charmed by it that I went back the next day before heading off to the airport, and the owner was able to recall what I had the day before, which was rather impressive. This is not a fancy or trendy cafe, it is friendly, down-to-earth, reasonably priced and utterly charming.

Tapas used to be served free with alcoholic drinks, like in Italy, drinking on an empty stomach is not encouraged ( I wish the Brits would understand this). But these days, not many places would offer this, I was served free tapas about 4/5 times during the entire trip, and this occurred mostly in Granada than in Seville. One of the bars that served free tapas is a wine bar hidden in an alley near the Cathedral, Taberna Más que vinos (Calle Tundidores, 10). The quality of food and wine here is good, but it’s probably best for a drink and nibble than a proper dinner.

With the strong Moorish influences and ties, I was eager to try some Moroccan food while I was in Granada. There are plenty of them in the city, but I picked a small, non-touristy family-run restaurant, Tagine Elvira (Calle Elvira). Not only did I almost missed it from the street, I hesitated slightly before walking in as it was completely empty on the night. The meal was cheap and tasty, but I did find it more on the salty side. Perhaps the chef was having a day ‘off’ as I was the only customer, meanwhile, I also felt like I was eating at someone’s front room because the TV in front of me was broadcasting some American soap with the chef/owner sitting on one side playing with her phone. The experience was definitely an ‘authentic’ one.


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Top left, right & 2nd row left: Cafe 4 Getos; 2nd row midde & last row left: Tagines Elvira; 2nd & last row right: Mas que Vinos.


I spent my last night in Granada/ Andalusia at the paella restaurant/ bar, La Parrala ( Tendollas de Sta. Paula, 6), which was one of my favourites of the trip. An elder English couple left as I entered the restaurant and so again, I was the only customer there (a theme throughout my trip)! This restaurant has 2 branches in the city, and I picked this over the one nearer to my hotel because it has live music in the evenings. While I was wondering if the live music would take place or not, the lovely waitress ( who I later learned is the wife of the chef and are both Argentinians) assured me that she would try her best to ‘persuade’ the guitarist to perform for me! And he did… although he spoke little English, he wanted to know if I liked a certain music style and while playing, he completely immersed himself even though I (and the waitress) was the only audience.

Finally, my paella with squid ink arrived and it was delicious, it also went very well with the wine recommended to me. I then spent much of my time chatting to the friendly and warm Argentinian lady about Spain, Argentina, tango etc, and eventually leaving the restaurant extremely ecstatic and satisfied. I believe that when it comes to dining out, no matter how excellent the food and wine is, it needs to be accompanied by the ambience and service to enhance the overall experience. Without the latter factors, the meal is slightly ‘soulless’, which is a bit like cooking, i.e. fresh ingredients do not necessary make the best meals, it is the passion of the chef that is the key to elevate a good meal to an outstanding one.


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 La Parrala


Like always, when I travel abroad, I would visit local food markets, delis and supermarkets to get an idea of what the locals eat. Throughout the trip, I was attracted by the greengrocers that sell fresh and colourful fruits and vegetables, the butchers and fishmongers that sell fresh meat and fish and the delis and jamon specialists that sell jamon, olives and anchovies etc. Here are some of the specialists I found on my trip:


Flores Gourmet (restaurant/ deli/ winery) – C/ San Pablo 24 (continuacion de Reyes Catolicos)


Jamones Calixto (Jamonerias)Alfonso XIII, 6

San Nicasio is an award-winning brand from Cordoba that makes handmade crisps with extra virgin olive oil and Himalayan salt. It costs just over €1 in Cordoba for 40 g, but in the U.K., you can get 190g for £3.99 at Waitrose! Honestly, €1 is almost justifiable for a small packet of crisps, but £4 is just ridiculous and not worth it in my opinion.


Jamones Casa Diego (Jamonerias) – C/ Santa Escolastica, 13.


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1st row right: Luxurious and ‘healthy’ crisps by San Nicasio; 2nd row: Jamones Calixto in Cordoba; Third row left: Jamones Casa Diego; Third row right: Bacallao in Cordoba; Fourth and fifth row: food market in Granada. Last row: Souvenir from my trip… food for myself, friends and family!


Viva Andalusia: Seville

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Main and bottom right: Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza; bottom left: Palacio de San Telmo


Traveling is one of my life-long passion, so being able to travel for work is something that I love. However, in the last few years, my travels have revolved either around work or visiting family and friends, and so I felt that it was time to take a proper holiday after the hectic Christmas season. In terms of location, it was basically anywhere not too far and south of the U.K…

I have always wanted to go to Seville, but somehow I never managed it, so Andalusia was on the top of my list… The best thing about traveling in January is that it is an off-peak season, so flights and accommodations are cheaper and there are less tourists to deal with at the tourist attractions.


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Top left: Torre del Oro; top middle and right: La Giralda; Bottom left: El puente de triana designed by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel; Bottom right: a commemorative plaque of a bullfighter in the Triana district


When I saw the blue and sunny sky upon arrival, I knew I had picked the right place! And within hours, I started to wander why it took me so long to come to this beautiful city! I rented an apartment via Airbnb right by the Cathedral, and my host was so friendly and helpful that I just knew I would love my stay.

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Top left: Plaza de España; Top middle: bells on the top of La Giralda; middle right: Museo de Artes y Costumbres Populares in Parque de María Luisa; Bottom left; Sunset at Plaza Nueva; bottom right: the marble columns at Almaeda de Hercules


I love walkable cities, so I walked everywhere in Seville, except that I did consider renting a bike at one point when I was rather lost on the other side of the river. Realistically, four nights were not enough to see all the wonderful sights, but I managed to squeeze in a few sights in a day, as well as getting lost in the back streets of Santa Cruz. This was part of the fun though, I loved walking aimlessly and getting lost in the narrow alleyways throughout my trip in Andalusia… there was no rush to get anywhere, and every corner there was something new waiting to be discovered…


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Real Alcazar



Seville is a city full of beautiful architecture and amazing churches, and I love the fusion of different cultures and influences. Out of all the must-see sights, I really enjoyed walking around the magnificent Real Alcazar, particularly its gardens. It was rather empty when I was there, so it felt incredibly peaceful, and I am sure it would look more amazing in springtime. Parque Maria Luisa is vast and full of wonders, the Plaza de España is spectacular, but I spent most of my time inside Museo de Artes y Costumbres and Museo Arqueológico, both situated within the park and were opened until 8:30pm.

Honestly, I was not too keen on the Cathedral, yes, it is the biggest in Europe and it is jaw-dropping to see the extraordinary craftsmanship, but I find it too ostentatious, overwhelming and disjointed. The Moorish Giralda tower, though, is worth the climb. I was especially keen to see the bells that woke me up every morning without fail!


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Casa de Pilatos


Whenever I travel, I have always enjoyed the smaller and quirkier private homes or palaces than the main sights, especially if they were once owned by some eccentric and wealthy aristocrats or merchants like the mesmerising Quinta da Regaleira in Sintra, Portugal. In Seville, there are a few wonderful houses/ palaces that I highly recommend:

Case de Pilatos is a 16th century palace that is the residence of the Duchess of Medinaceli, who died last year at the age of 96. The architectural style is a fusion of Mudéjar, Renaissance, Gothic and Roman, with a small but lovely garden at the back. The first floor is available to visit only via a guided tour, where visitors can see Spanish artwork, antiques and family photos in the living and dining rooms.


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Hospital de los Venerables


Hospital de los Venerables is a 17th century mansion that took over 20 years to complete was once a residence for elderly priests and now restored as a cultural centre. The courtyard with a sunken patio is extremely tranquil, but the highlight is the splendid baroque chapel hand-painted by Juan de Valdés Leal and his son Lucas Valdés. The 3-dimensional ceiling in the Sacristy is stunnung! The current exhibition, “Nur. Light in Art and Science from the Islamic World” is fascinating and very informative, it demonstrates the intelligence, innovation and creativity of the ancient Islamic culture esp. in the fields of science, astronomy and mathematics.


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Palacio de la Condesa de Lebrija


Palacio de la Condes de Lebrijia is a 16th century mansion/ palace bought by the Countess of Lebrijia ( an archaeologist) in 1901, who decided to spend 13 years restoring and turning it into her own private archaeological/ mosaic museum! I love this palace, it is full of character, and has mix-mash/ fusion style with the most marvellous mosaic floors and tile work (around the stairs case). The first floor can be visited with a guide, and since I was the only person there, I fired a bunch of questions at the guide who sometimes couldn’t even provide me with an answer! Oops!

Most disappointing…

Although it is not a sight, but my experience at the Aire de Sevilla ( Arab baths) was more stressful than relaxing! I was hoping to get a bit of pampering after walking for days, but the place was packed when I arrived ( they have a 2-hour time slots, so everyone would arrive at the same time and be shuffled in like sheep without much explanation). I was supposed to use the baths first, but was called straight into the massage room with several other people… I felt that the place is more about ‘style over substance’, the baths and steam room were not hot enough, the stairs were slippery and the changing rooms did not look clean at all. Even with the 10% discount, I felt it was overpriced and was probably one of the worst spas I have ever been to. Beware!


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Top left: Convento san leadro; Top middle and second row: Iglesia del Salvador; Top right: Iglesia de la magdalena; Bottom left: Iglesia de Santa Ana; Bottom right: Capillita del Carmen



There is no shortage of churches to visit in Seville, especially the Baroque ones, and each showcases outstanding craftsmanship and splendour. One of the best example is Iglesia del Salvador, which was once a Roman temple and a Mosque! It is also the most important church in the city after the Cathedral.

Most churches are open in the mornings and evenings, I particularly enjoyed visiting them during services and on Sunday to absorb the religious atmosphere ( even though I am not religious). I often find religious sanctuaries incredibly peaceful, whether they are churches, Cathedrals, temples, mosques or Synagogues, it is a shame that this tranquility only be found within these sanctuaries!


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Top left and main: Metropol Parasol; Top right: Torre Triana designed by Francisco Javier Sáenz de Oiza; Bottom left: La Barqueta Bridge; Bottom right: Alamillo Bridge


Modern architecture

There is almost no skyscraper in Seville, I saw one on the opposite side of the river when I was up on the top of La Giralda and it looks rather lonely and out of place. The rather controversial modern architecture is the world’s largest wooden structure, Metropol Parasol ( it has been labeled as ‘setas’ by the locals i.e. mushrooms!) designed by Jurgen Mayer H. Architects and completed in 2011. Personally, I really like the structure, it creates a sharp contrast against the backdrop of traditional architecture and the bright blue sky, but I think this is precisely the point and I love the fact that it looks different from every angle. Visitors can also walk on rooftop and visit the Roman and Moorish archaeological site underneath, which was discovered while excavated to build a car park!

Although there are not many contemporary buildings in the city, there are some modern and interesting bridges like Alamillo Bridge designed by Santiago Calatrava Valls and La Barqueta Bridge by Juan J. Arenas & Marcos J. Pantalerón for the World Expo in 1992.


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Top right: Museo de Bellas Artes, bottom right: Galeria Rafael Ortiz ; the rest: Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo



Most guidebooks rave about Museo de Bellas Artes, which is indeed a beautiful museum ( converted from a former convent), but after visiting so many churches and seeing endless relics and artifacts, a museum full of religious paintings was too much for me! I also think that without context, these paintings provide less impact and meaning. I walked through the rooms swiftly and spent most of my time at the exhibition of the famous artist from Cordoba ( my next destination), Julio Romero de Torres.

One of the highlights for me in Seville was the few hours spent at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, I love this contemporary art centre, and if I didn’t get lost beforehand, I would have spent more time there! The architecture of this former monastery and pottery factory is fascinating, and I think the organisation has done an amazing job in restoring the old while infusing something new with the modern art work. There are several exhibitions showing in different parts of the complex, but the one that really moved me was the exhibition of Spanish artist/ architect/ sculptor/ designer, Guillermo Pérez Villalta. I have never heard of this artist before, and even though he is a very well known in Spain, it seems that he is not as recognised internationally. His work is so thought-provoking, mesmerising and some of his architectural work is almost mind-blowing. It was a shame that I couldn’t find a bookshop on site to buy a book on the artist!

Even if you are not a fan of contemporary art, the site itself is worth a visit ( if you can find it) and it has an outdoor space/ garden filled with some weird and wonderful sculptures!



I tend to get along very well with Spanish speaking people, perhaps it is because of their warmth, passion and openness. People in Andalusia are well known for their hospitality and even in a buzzling city like Seville, most people I encountered were friendly despite the language barrier. Throughout my trip, I sensed that people in this area are quite laid-back and even in winter, people still like to hang outside listening to street performances or socialising with friends outside of bars in the afternoons. I am beginning to wonder if London’s way of life really suits me as I am finding the place more hectic than ever! And now I finally understand why so many British have left home and moved to southern Spain!


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There will be more posts on food, shopping, flamenco, and street art to come…