Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

As you know, Seville is our current location. If you want to read about how we ended up here, check out our previous post about our decision and what went into it.

Upon first sight, Seville kind of seemed…familiar. A combination of several previous visits to Spain, being from Chicago (language), and having spent a good chunk of time in Latin America, Seville wasn’t the ‘What planet did we just land on?’ arrival experience that greeted us in our last destination.

It wasn’t summer warm, but warm enough for us! 60s (upper teens in Celsius) felt great, and the sun was ready for its late-January onslaught.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

Outside of Seville’s famed orange trees being literally everywhere…

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

…the city itself reminded me not of Barcelona or San Sebastian (the only two Spanish cities in which I’ve spent a great deal of time and are nothing like southern Spain), but of Buenos Aires and Mexico City. I am well aware that this thought process is completely backwards. Those cities were influenced by cities here, but the time I spent in Latin America automatically had me thinking of those places nonetheless.

The architecture in Seville is breathtaking. Old Spanish and Moorish influence drips from nearly every building and street corner, and I often find my eyes drawn upward to look at the structures that look down on us. This causes problems as I start to meander on the sidewalk. Fortunately for us, it seems to be standard procedure here for people to weave along the sidewalks as if everyone has had a few too many.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

While we’ve seen quite a few of the well-known sights here, we haven’t visited many just yet. Those ramblings will come later. In the meantime, we’ve been eating!

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

One reservation I had about coming here is the food culture. For whatever reason, I never really had the best food experiences during previous trips to Spain. I also never got into the tapas lifestyle, as standing in a crowd of people whilst nibbling on finger food is not my idea of a relaxing experience.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

That changed quickly, as we fortunately made friends before or just after we arrived. We linked up with Cat from Sunshine & Siestas, Shawn from Azahar Sevilla and Sevilla Tapas, Peter from Seville Concierge, and Markus from Veo Apartment. Here we are with Peter, getting our learn and eat on. (Photo courtesy of Shawn.)

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

We suck at networking and never really ‘try’ to do so because doing things organically always feels richer to us. Sorry, networking lovers – just not our bag. But, a few emails and social networking questions put us in touch with a very nice, very fun group of people. And all of these people got us straightened out when it comes to tapas and eating.

Lots of eating.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

I could already post hundreds of food photos, but I’ll save your drool for the pictures we post on our Facebook page. We are now (almost) completely comfortable with the tapas lifestyle, and have embraced it in a proper manner – despite poor experiences with it in other Spanish cities.

One more? Okay then.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

Another great thing we noticed right away about Seville is how walk-friendly it is. This is the norm for many European cities – not including our previous, entirely mountainous, always vertical, and stairs-abundant home in Montenegro – so it’s not a shock by any means.

Seville is basically flat. Like a pancake. That, coupled with the Sevici bicycle-sharing program, make this city a piece of cake when it comes to using your feet and legs as transportation. Sure, there’s a vast bus system and tiny subway and tram systems, but walking is where it’s at. And surprisingly, most of the streets in a city of this age are relatively smooth and don’t put the hurt on your soles. Plus, it’s great to see some sexy cycling setups now and again.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

The city is also not extremely large. It’s the fourth largest city in Spain, and the capital of Andalusia. It’s about 700,000-strong, and over one million if you count the suburbs. That’s a big city, but not huge. While that would only make it the 19th-largest city in the U.S., it’s still bigger than cities like Boston, Seattle, Denver, Baltimore, and Washington, DC. If you’re from the EU, this should give you an idea: It’s larger than Frankfurt, Stuttgart, Glasgow, and Copenhagen, and just smaller than Amsterdam.

The streets normally don’t look like this parade, but there are always people around. Relaxing, playing, cuddling in the park, shopping, commuting, whatever. It’s city life.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

Frankly, it’s also quite nice to be seeing street art again. While we did see the occasional piece, most of the street art in Montenegro was composed of terrible tags dedicated to football clubs, and the occasional memorial for a friend lost in the war(s). Being back in a place where art flourishes and there’s more of a scene, it’s nice to see murals, stickers, throw-ups, and full pieces. It might not be your thing, but it’s an integral part of a culture and cityscape, and something that we embrace.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

We also like how so many of the recycling bins here are painted. It’s much better than the dirty and drab green or gray that usually shrouds thrown away glass bottles.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

And of course, Seville is known for its ceramic and tiles. Old and new, you can find them in every corner of the city, breathing some extra beauty into an already beautiful city. It’s also an interesting juxtaposition with modern street art.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

The people? The Spanish poet (and native of Seville) Antonio Machado once said:

“The only problem with Seville is that it’s full of Sevillanos.”

Sidenote: His full name is Antonio Cipriano José María y Francisco de Santa Ana Machado y Ruiz. Wow.

Ouch. Granted, we have not been here long and will not be here forever. But, the people here seem very nice and everyone has treated us well. Maybe they’re just used to the influx of expats – there’s a very large foreign student population here, among other things – or maybe they just love life too much to care. (Sevillanos are big on loving life.)

Language? Oh, the language. As Americans, we’re used to what we’d basically call Mexican Spanish. Most people know that in Spain, people speak (wide variations of) Castilian Spanish (castellano). Ang’s sister put it most bluntly when she recently emailed:

“Thooper cool! Have you theen Penelope Cruthe yet? Hahaha, I’m sorry. All those Spaniards have lisps. I don’t know if they know that. Maybe you can tell them and correct them.”

All jokes aside, most people know Castilian Spanish as widely using a ‘th’ sound for a soft letter C, sometimes the letter Z, and sometimes for other letters. That’s what she was talking about. I also seemed to remember the Spanish here being much faster, and always leaving out the ‘pinche’ that seems to make its presence known between nearly every other word in Mexican Spanish. Okay, still joking around. Maybe.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

In any case, we had reservations about how much we’d understand and how quickly we’d pick it up. As we’re used to learning new languages – or in this case, re-learning and adding to what we already know – it hasn’t been too much of a feat. There’s a rhythm that’s easy to catch, and comprehension hasn’t been anywhere close to the issue that I thought it would be.

People in this region of Spain also like to drop the letter S, so that makes it more fun. You can speak it however you want, and most people will understand even the worst of an American Spanish speaker; but in all reality, language hasn’t been an issue.

Technology? No problem. Phones are easy to set up – despite Vodafone accidentally giving us a duplicate number when we arrived. Internet is crazy fast. Public Wi-Fi isn’t as omnipresent as it is in other European cities, but you can find it if you need it. That about sums it up for tech, in case you were concerned about such things.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

Siestas? Oh, the siesta. Unless it’s a major chain – like the goliath El Corte Inglés department store – or a corner store like the Chinese ones that keep every nook and cranny of this city stocked at all hours, everyone is off from about 2pm to 5pm. I found this annoying during previous stays in Spain, but I’m now getting the hang of it.

That time is for eating, hanging out, going home, people-watching, or whatever else you’d like to do that doesn’t involve doing business or running errands. It is an engrained part of the culture here – despite some companies trying to get rid of it – and it’s best to roll with it and make a slight shift in your lifestyle to make it work for you.

Everything is also closed on Sundays, but we’re used to that from our time in Germany and Montenegro.

Seville, Spain by Jets Like Taxis

And that about wraps up our first impressions of a city we quite like. The people, the architecture, the food, the mobility, the language, and of course – the weather – have all made for a great impression on us so far. We are currently enjoying our time here, learning about the culture and delving into what makes so many people love Seville. Stay tuned for much, much more.

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Any other first impressions that I forgot to mention? Do you have any other input or thoughts about Seville? Let us know what’s on your mind in the comments!