Day 1. Cold feet, bread with jam and coffee is what I had for breakfast on the morning of April 26th. Good thing I swallowed my cold feet quickly so I was able to just go out and experience my first two-day solo trip with no itinerary whatsoever.
And I was glad I did, because this was how the morning sun started welcoming me:
Crossing the border to Spain was La Linea, where the bus station was a 10-minute walk away. My first struggle came as I tried asking the man standing at the door ‘Hablas Ingles?’ (do you speak English?) where the bus to my destination was and his answer was a bunch of Spanish words which to my ear means ‘No’.
Going to Sevilla is a €25, 4-hour bus ride by the Comes bus. During the first hour I wasn’t able to sleep even though my eyes were starting to give up on me because I just know I have no idea who these people are and I won’t be able to understand them. But still, it put a smile on my face knowing how crazy this was for me, someone who never ran a marathon during her childhood, who doesn’t know how to swim and who has been suffering from allergic rhinitis from vinegar, dust and the like.
My friend wasn’t exaggerating when she said English speakers in Spain are rare on some parts. Of course I didn’t venture out without a little help, I had Pocket Lingo in Spanish helping me with a few phrases and it also helped that Tagalog has a lot of Spanish influence. When we had a short stop a woman asked me if I know where the loo was and I was just so glad to know that there was somebody on the bus who can speak English. That was when I became a little less paranoid and I was able to enjoy the ride. The view was beautiful (I wasn’t able to take a decent photo because I felt bringing out my DSLR at that time was a little premature), the hills basked in the sunlight with a few bodies of water on sight (I wasn’t sure if they were rivers or lakes) and a lot of this:
I was able to visit the Bangui Windmills in Ilocos and I started thinking about how the Philippines could really benefit if the government starts to seriously consider renewable resource as a sustainable energy source and how they wouldn’t worry about the cost if we didn’t have money-pursing ba**a*ds as leaders. But I don’t wanna talk about politics.
The second half of the bus ride was just trudging along expressways and bus stops with the final destination being the Prado de San Sebastian bus station. Sevilla has a tram passing San Sebastian to the Ayuntamiento.
I would not tire of recommending La Flamenka Hostel which was very underrated being €22/night for a 4-bed female room for such a clean, visually pleasing and conveniently-located-near-the-tram hostel. They have nice and beautiful staff who can speak English by the way. For a first time female solo traveler, it was a very good place to stay in.
So less blabbering and more photos:
You can see the whole of Seville from Las Setas, you just have to pay a small fee.
If you turn left from there you’ll arrive in this beautiful street:
All the streets in Seville are amazing, you can definitely feel the richness of Andalucian culture. Almost everything is photographically sumptous!
Seville is not just about culture, history and architecture but they have quite a few parks nurturing trees.
As I mentioned, I didn’t have any itinerary but I know the must-see places so I was planning on going to Maria Luisa Park to chill since I arrived after lunch and was walking for two hours. I stopped at this huge entrance to who knows where so I tried to take a selfie with it but failed when I saw people entering so I thought maybe I should just follow them since I have no idea where I’m going. LO AND BEHOLD:
My jaw literally dropped at the sight. I thanked God for not letting me chicken out on an opportunity like this. Seeing the beauty of Plaza de Espana made me smile and I swear I spent two hours just walking around because when you come to a place like this you don’t just take a lot of photos but you let yourself absorb everything. My friend was the one who suggested I go to Sevilla on my first solo trip (though she went here with somebody) and it’s a good thing I didn’t plan on looking at her photos of this place in Facebook because otherwise I wouldn’t have been this awed. It’s just different when you haven’t seen it before, though I know even for you who have seen this in photos only, would definitely still be awed by its beauty in person. My ‘unpreparedness’ hatched another good thing in that it was off-peak so there weren’t a lot of tourists yet (it will be in a few minutes).
Though my eyes wanted to indulge in the beauty that’s in front of me, my feet wanted to retire so I walked to Maria Luisa Park which was just in front.
Day 2. I needed a path, a definite way, a TOUR GUIDE in the form of Feel the City Tours who was recommended by the hostel because it was FREE. Yes, FREE. From 10:30 to 13:00 I learnt of Carmen, Spanish politics and Lawrence of Arabia with Seville history and culture of course. Our guide, Daniello did a great job telling us stories of Seville, we were not a huge crowd which I think was better. We started at Puerta de Jerez (look for the Purple umbrella) and ended at Plaza de Espana so I was able to experience it again (and still I was amazed) this time with lots of tourists rounding about.
If at the end you won’t shell out any money then you’re a Scrooge. They wouldn’t ask a definite money in return, but how you value their work will determine if you will or how much you will give back. For a FREE tour these people did a great job and you can’t help but to give back.
Note that they just tour you about the place and not inside it, you have to pay a fee to get inside the Catedral, Giralda and Plaza de Toros. Which was what I did after. First on the list was the Real Alcazar de Sevilla, for €9.50 you can see the residence of Spain’s royalty.
It houses lots of rooms and a large garden which made my feet hurt, my skin burn and my heart jump.
Up next was the Catedral where before I paid €8 and enter, I had to be toasted under the sun for 15 minutes but it was worth the tan.
And just when I thought I couldn’t drop any jaws, I just wowed at the enormity of this Cathedral. Well it is the largest gothic cathedral and the third largest church in the world! I wasn’t able to take a lot of photos because I felt it was such a sacred place and I just wanted to be in the moment and take it all in. Though here are a few for you to take in:
Lastly, the Giralda Tower where I had to walk 37-platforms high to have a shot worthy of tilt-shifting:
I went home the next day with a slightly tanned skin, a smile on my face and a memory I would never forget.
Sevilla was miles away from the Philippines and four hours away from Gibraltar but I was able to confidently roam around and quietly sleep at night. I never imagined last year that a year after I would be in Europe on my first solo trip, I would think I was crazy and pee myself of paranoia. But I guess now I would tell my last-year self that so far, the big crazy leaps I took for the past few months had been the best things that happened in my life so far.