This past weekend, the entire program spent three days and two nights in Sevilla, in the south of Spain. We arrived to tranquil skies and checked into our hotel. When we looked out the window it was pouring. I ventured into the center of the city, about 25 minutes from the hotel, for lunch with a few friends. The rain was falling, but not terribly, and we arrived relatively dry and very hungry. We asked the waiter for recommendations, he said things, we agreed. The food began to arrive. We ate family style, making our way through cheeses, meats, fish, and paella. It was delicious. Finally, full, we asked for the check. “But there is more,” protested our waiter, and disappeared. He returned with two full, footlong cod, laid out gloriously across platters of potatoes and salad.
After lunch it was pouring. I walked back to the hotel just in time to turn around and walk back to the center with the rest of the program. My shoes were two ponds around my feet, but the umbrella our assistant director, and angel on earth, Mayte gave me kept my head dry. We went on a walking tour of the city, an army of umbrellas like bumper cars in the narrow, ancient Sevillan alleys *plug, check out Allison’s photo series of raincoats and their matching buildings, on the program instagram*.
Saturday started out with another walking tour in the rain. Then, in the afternoon, the sun broke. It looked like a new city, the gleaming, colorful walls of the houses against the bright blue of the sky. We took a boat ride onto the Guadalquivir and then wandered the neighborhoods along the river, watching the sunset along the bank before heading back into town for a light dinner. A storm caught us halfway, but don’t worry, we weathered it in a small bar with a bit of a fish and beer and survived no worse for our trouble.
Sunday was a big moment for us, a walking tour not in the rain through the Alzázar de Sevilla. Built as a fortress in 913 by the Moorish Muslim kings, it was expanded half a millennium later by the Christians into a royal palace. The architecture and design range across both religions, from the intricately carved walls of the Moors to massive paintings of saints. On the way home I watched a man in a suit step away from his date, steal a soccer ball from a few kids, make for the goal, and be flatly rejected. His date just kept walking; I assume she’s seen it before.
Around 4:30 we made for the train station. After a day and a half of sunny skies, the rain gods decided decided they weren’t done with us. The station was in site when the first drops fell, by the time we ran through the doors we were well soaked. It was a fitting ending to a great trip. Lots of people have seen Sevilla, but few people have seen Sevilla in the rain.
A couple takeaways, the Alfalfa neighborhood boasts some incredible tapas places and the river is beautiful; don’t leave without talking a walk along its banks. Leave extra time if you’re heading through the center, especially the Jewish neighborhood, the alleyways are narrower and the dead ends deader. And when the sun does come out, have a quick drink under one of the many palm trees near a fountain, pick which color house you’ll live in when you retire, and be thankful, but not too thankful, it’s not raining.
Text: Henry Allison – Photos: Sobhon Khairy – Video: Sergio Barreiro