After 6 months abroad, we finally made it to Sevilla, another magical city in Andalucía that is only 3 hours away from Granada. I am not sure why it took us so long. Sevilla has long been on our list as one of the cities we were most excited to see, and I think we just figured there would be plenty of time to get to the Andalusian capital.
Sevilla was a city that came with high expectations. Karen’s close friend Diana Romero claims Sevilla as her favorite European destination, and our kids’ former babysitter Kasey spent a semester abroad studying there a year ago. To top it off, Jackson has a friend from Los Angeles who is playing in a futbol academy there. So Sevilla has been on our radar. It just took us a while to get there! We were excited.
For only the second time this year, we decided to rent a car. Spanish freeways are exceptional, and the trip to Sevilla was easy. However, getting to the hotel was not. Driving through Old Town in Sevilla takes both patience and precision. The streets are incredibly narrow, having been built long before the age of the automobile, and people walk everywhere. It is a bit like a video game, and Karen took on the task of maneuvering through these corridors with our oversized vehicle complete with manual transmission. Fortunately, she managed to avoid both the ancient buildings and the living pedestrians. Unfortunately, she avoided parking the vehicle as well, since spots were extraordinarily hard to come by. So we decided to dump the car in a parking garage outside of Old Town and walk back to the hotel.
Inside the city walls, Sevilla offers a charming quality that is synonymous with Andalucía. If I was trying to describe Sevilla, I would say Sevilla encapsulates everything one imagines Spain to be. This is the Spain of bullfights and Hemingway. The Spain where colored streets slink their way around corners, drenched with charm. The Spain that flashes in freshly painted red and yellow buildings, the gleaming sun overhead, and the largest Cathedral in the world set down gloriously in the center of town. This is the Spain where cafes and bars spill onto the street, where people take in drinks in the late afternoon and ramble on into evening and morning. The Spain where you can taste the flavor of the city, hear the flamenco music rise in the air, and feel the history drip into your soul. To stand in Plaza de España evokes the romance of Venice, the achievement of the Roman Empire, and the glory of the Reconquista all at once. It is spectacular, and its dramatic architecture feels like a place that you have been before or seen before in a film or novel or in one’s imagination. Perhaps this could be categorized as stereotypical Spain, but if Sevilla embodies these stereotypes, it does so with the idea that Spain is to be celebrated, that its history has left a permanent mark on the world, and that the challenges of the future won’t deter the majesty of the moment. Sevilla is indeed a place to exalt the past and live in the present all at once.
While in Sevilla, we did our very best to live out those dreams. Jackson went to a Sevilla FC game with his friend who lives in Spain. Karen and I went on a date night at sunset in Plaza de España followed by drinks and tapas. And Cassius and I went to the Hard Rock to watch the Patriots, his Patriots, win an epic Super Bowl. We woke him up to leave for the restaurant at midnight, and when we emerged on the Sevilla streets at 4:50 am, Cassius proved that his passion for the Pats provided enough fuel even to outlast the Spaniards! Pretty impressive.
At the end of the long weekend, we all left inspired and fulfilled. Sevilla is a place to love and a destination that evokes genuine gratitude. To be in Sevilla is to know you have had good fortune. This was never more evident than during a ride in a taxi one night. I struck up a conversation with our driver, who shared with us that his family had arrived here 20 years ago as refugees from the country Georgia. We were here in the midst of a dream weekend and a dream year, but his family came here to seek refuge. They didn’t come here on sabbatical. They came here for survival. Two decades on, he was now a full fledged Spaniard, with the penant of his Spanish football club hanging around his rear view mirror and his Andalucían accent perfected–further proof that Sevilla is a place to dream and for dreams to be fulfilled.