Seville and the Recommendation Conundrum

You may remember that I'm trying to chronicle my month long winter break vacation. Now that I finally have a computer I can type and put up my photos, here we go. We left off in Malaga, with a brief preview of the pending journey to Morocco. But a few days passed in between, and they weren't uneventful.

Church in Seville

The train from Malaga to Seville may have looked like a vehicle from Star Wars, but Seville felt somewhat like home. I'm sure that's in part for my love of Spanish life and their endless exposure to the sunlight, but more so to the company. With the right people you can recreate the feeling of home anywhere, and within seconds of reuniting with my parents, cousin, brother and grandmother, I felt just that.

In essence, our stay in Seville wasn't to out of the ordinary. We explored, saw churches and other buildings, ate tapas and drank canas, enjoyed the siesta and sun alike but in general our happiness came from sharing in a new beautiful place with people that we hadn't seen in a while (aka me).

Family Bonding in Seville

The beauty of Seville deserves some emphasis. While we may not have have engaged in as many activities, its an extraordinary city to wander. Andalusia is rich in architecture due to its Moorish influences among others, and many buildings are either richly colored or ornately decorated. The southern sky is a deep blue and was often graced with intricate clouds. The orange trees lining many streets graced our steps with a recognition comfort, despite being inedible, its a pleasant feeling to be surrounded by fruit trees. The palace was truly magnificent, both in the brisk morning on a run and on a photo hunt at sunset.

The Seville Skyline

My brother was waiting for me with one great surprise, his digital SLR. Essentially, as of Seville I have the capability to take pictures of much higher quality, with fully manipulable settings. Its become a strong interest over the last two months, so hopefully you enjoy the increasingly better photos.

Before jetting of to Malaga, my plans received remarks of skepticism from numerous friends. "Why Malaga?" they would demand. You should go to Seville or Grenada (both in the same Andalusia region). Often, the only reason for this is that they have heard of those two cities, and not Malaga. It can be a vicious cycle, one city doesn't get mentioned in the latest "31 places you MUST go to this year" and no longer is a tourist destination with the sole explanation being that people think they are experts on Spain or the world, so if they have heard of Seville, it is the only place worth going. Malaga may be a totally worthwhile destination (which it is), but if they haven't heard of it, it must not be. Media, popular culture and other travelers are the only ones who shape these perceptions.

This is in no way an offense to this cities that are well known and often spoken of. There's a reason they are big attractions and their names get floated around. Paris, London, Barcelona etc. are major destination cities because they are wonderful and have a lot to offer. Rather, my point is that is often the other smaller city that is not as well known that can present just as much to an eager traveler. We can't be limited by the big names. There's a whole world to see and if you took everyone's advice to heart you would waver between going everywhere and nowhere.

Granted, it was Christmastime, and a lot was closed in Seville, but I found I enjoyed Malaga more. That is to say, it wasn't the big name that offered the "best" experience. At least in my circumstances. The other thing to remember is that there is so many things working against and with us every single day that it is impossible for two people or ever the same person to have the same experience somewhere. You may eat a bad meal, meet an unpleasant person, walk down the wrong street, completely by coincidence and have a totally altered experience. So you choose by convenience and go places that appeal to your interests. Its your trip not your friend's...

Just as the big cities shouldn't be avoided, I didn't dislike Seville, it just wasn't special to me as Malaga was. But it was a whole different experience. I hadn't seen my family in four months and felt so fortunate that they could spend 2 - 4 weeks traveling Europe with me. And Seville left us with good times, pleasant boulevards to stroll down, restaurants with delicious food and cafes with cozy environments, the perfect scene for a family reunion. Sometimes intensity and the extreme can be traded in for a joyous normalcy.

Thus began a vastly different method of traveling than to which I had become habituated. Not living on the fringe, not trying to fit in every single site, traveling with those who I know and love the most. After a few days in Seville, we were ready for Morocco.

Moorish influence in Seville
At the Palace in Seville
Cathedral in Seville