I have been to Seville several times the last time with my daughter Kate and her husband but when Tenerife Sunshine were offering 4 days including flights for just €120 I could not resist another visit. We booked immediately and were told we would be staying in the Van Gogh Hostel. Now hearing the word HOSTEL might put some olduns off but we are an intrepid pair of pensionistas so it takes quite a bit to faze us and having seen hostels in Seville before we were not the least bothered. Spanish hostels are not to be confused with youth or backpackers cheap accommodation, they are small, family run hotels that are 1 or 2 star, but again don´t judge by the category they are generally nicer than the equivalent hotels the difference being the rooms are somewhat smaller. So this was what we were hoping for. In fact, providing the beds were clean and the water was hot, we could not have asked for a better place to stay because the Van Gogh is in the heart of the historical centre of Seville. As it turned out we stepped out of the front door and less than 50 ft were the walls of the Real Alcázares, turn left and we were in the Cathedral Plaza and just a stride away from the Santa Cruz quarter – see photo marked up with how close everything is – (click images to enlarge).
It was all we had hoped for – friendly, immaculately clean and small. OK very small you had to breath in as you passed the loo to get to the shower but that was really no hardship.
It is hard to think what I might share with you about Spain’s fourth largest city, which hasn’t already been shared by dozens of other bloggers myself included. I have previously told you about our visit to the Plaza de España and linked you to photos, of course we had another mooch around and it is much larger than I remembered.
I have told you about the coolest street art where even the Seville refuse company sponsors a contest for decorating the recycling containers. Nevertheless there were a couple of things I specifically wanted to either see for the first time or spend more time on than we had done in the past.
I know the Barrio Santa Cruz district can be a rip off for tourists but once you are aware that if you take a seat in a café you will not only be paying for a drink but the glass it comes in, then there are no surprises. I still find the oldest area of the city; it used to be the Jewish Quarter, fascinating. The name comes from the iron cross on the Plaza Santa Cruz. Walking here is sheer pleasure; it is awash with cobbled streets, so narrow they are called kissing lanes, plazas where the swaying palm trees block out the mid-day sun and where the noise level drops considerably from that found around the Cathedral and Alcazar.
Contrasting with the narrow streets the Plaza Santa Cruz is one of the larger spaces. Although a tourist destination, there are places here to sit and relax and watch the world go by surrounded by the scent of roses and jasmine in full bloom. In the centre of the square, the cross of Cerrajeria, a remarkable 17th century piece of metalwork marks the place of the former church of Santa Cruz.
The area deserves several different visits: firstly during the day to take in Callejon del Agua (Water Alley) and by night, take a stroll through the streets before heading to a flamenco bar or tablaos or stop at one of the many restaurants for tapas.
There are lots of restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops as well as lovely houses that owners have adorned with beautiful plants, pretty courtyards and wrought iron balconies. Although it is easy to get lost here, forget a map, the best way to explore this charming neighbourhood is to get lost in its maze of narrow streets and enjoy the peace and beauty of the leafy squares. Getting lost is half the fun.
According to the myth, Don Juan was known for his countless affairs with young Spanish women. We came across his statue in Plaza de los Refinadores and tried to imagine him being chased around these cobblestone streets by the authorities, because most of these ladies were married. It is said that part of Don Juan’s adventures take place around the Hosteria del Laurel here in Santa Cruz.
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