Monday, September 14, 2009


Of all the Andalucían cities and towns I have ever been to—Seville, Cordoba, Granada, Carmona, Jaén, Jerez, Arcos, Ronda… Seville is the best. I thought there might have been a halo effect, as it was one of the first places Mai Li and I reached on our maiden European voyage in 2007, but having returned I can confirm it. Granada is a must for the Alhambra; Cordoba is equally important for the Mezquita; and picturesque Ronda was a lot of fun because of the fería.  But Seville, though touristy, retains its heart and lives up to all the romantic expectations. It has the cathedral and the Giralda, and the alcázar with its rambling gardens, all in the centre of the Barrio de Santa Cruz—the yellow, salmon, and white-washed quarter of tall, narrow laneways and rose-filled balconies of iron filigree. Though other places have made important contributions, it is the soul of flamenco. I feel very safe in all of Andalucía, but in Seville, at any hour of the night, utterly so. And the tapas, invented here, is the best anywhere, with dozens of bars offering hundreds of kinds of tapas in the Barrio de Santa Cruz alone.

Americans love Seville, too. It is one of the places I have found them the most as tourists, along with Paris and Salzburg. So, they mustn’t be all bad.

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