Usually the travel part of trips is hardly worth mentioning, but in Spain on the AVE, it becomes definitely noteworthy. Broken into groups of six for ticket distribution, my posse ended up with a section of seats in the very back of the train – on the other side of the last door, and hence separated by a sliding door. Delighted with our little table and the opportunity to be obnoxious Americans without disturbing the Spaniards (who all travel in silence), we pulled out cards and I passed around the gingersnaps I’d baked the day before to use up the valuable molasses left over from gingerbread oh-so-long ago. Honestly, nothing tastes like home the way gingersnaps and a glass of soymilk do…
Seeing as the AVE reaches speeds of 186 mph, the trip passed incredibly quickly and we soon stepped foot in sunny Sevilla, land of so much Spanish lore. Following lunch at the hotel (vegetarian option: an assorted array of picked vegetables and olives), two friends and I headed out to explore the city. We oriented ourselves towards the river and took in the gorgeous bridges and parks.
Walking past a pastelería, the unsubstantiality of lunch hit me, and we ordered some typical Andalucían sweets to tide us over until dinner.
After wandering the narrow streets of the Santa Cruz neighborhood and popping into the clove-scented cathedral to watch part of a mass, we found our way to the Plaza de España, constructed as part of the 1929 Expo hosted in Sevilla.
The construction lasted 15 years, and the impressive investment shows in the incredible result.
A portico-ed curved building is lined with benches, each designated to a Spanish province. Unfortunately, Zaragoza’s bench was undergoing restoration, so we had to make do with a life-size photo erected in front of it.
Rumor had it that the tapas around the Giralda, the famously striking tower marking the entrance to the cathedral, were rather good, so we walked to that barrio for dinner.
First stop: a rustic tapas bar that still chalks up your bill on the wooden counter. The food was delicious, and I enjoyed my montadito de queso manchego, a typical Sevillan mini-sandwich involving scrumptious bread and fillings varying from blood sausage (murcilla) to my very vegetarian Spanish cheese option, and pressed like a panini.
We then wandered to a bar near our hotel called “Bar Ajoblanco”, motivated by my love of the garlicky-almondy chilled white soup of the same name. We tried some of the ajo blanco (although I think mine is better) and also a bowl of salmorejo, a type of thick gazpacho served with hard-boiled egg very customary of Andalucía. I loved the bar’s jazz-themed decor, with American records and concert posters adorning the walls.
The rain in Spain decided to not fall mainly on the plane, and we dodged the raindrops heading back to the hotel, ready to enjoy each others’ company and snuggle in against the drizzle.