spreadsheets and suitcases

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Europalooza Trip Report Part 10: Hola España

on April 29, 2019

A note before I commence with the Trip Report: I was of course deeply affected by the fire that destroyed the roof and spire of the Notre Dame.  DH and I feel honored to have visited it so recently, as, even with renovations, it will never be the same again. The kids will always have that memory, too.  Travel is important!  Ok, let’s proceed.

After a nice evening in the Star Trek-themed Paris airport hotel, we woke up at what felt like dark o’clock.  Our nonstop flight to Sevilla (SVQ) on Vueling had a listed departure time of 7am.  It took less than 5 minutes to go down the elevator, drop our room keys at the front desk (which was this hotel’s checkout policy), and enter the terminal.  This hotel was definitely very convenient for early departures.  We headed to the Vueling check-in area.  Though I had printed the boarding passes way back in North Carolina, we now had an extra bag (the spare canvas duffle) to check.  It was full of dirty clothes, lol.  The agent spoke good English, and helped us to put a “FRAGILE” sticker on my eBags rolly- gotta protect that Disneyland Paris glass!

We headed to the security area, which I was interested in comparing with the US’s TSA.  It was very similar indeed, with restrictions on liquids and DS able to keep his shoes on as a minor child.  After about 20 minutes, we were through and headed to our gate.

We took off on time, and generally just rested.  It was nice to hear the safety announcements in English and Spanish.  Drinks came around (for purchase), and I was pleased to see the first strong reminder of our time in Spain:


In Ecuador, the word for peach is durazno, and the word for juice is jugo.  In Spain, they are melocotón and zumo, respectively.  Since it was my preferred drink, I had to say this phrase often when we lived there.  I totally smiled when ordering my zumo de melocotón on the plane 🙂

In less than 2 hours, we arrived!  It was 8:45a.


A Spanish sunrise.

Our friend from our previous time living in Sevilla had generously offered to let us stay with her for the 2-night stay.  And because she has a heart of gold, she offered to pick us up and drop us off at the airport, too.  We walked through the terminal to the pick-up area, stopping to find our bag of laundry at the baggage claim, haha.  I marveled at the memories rushing back.  The last time I arrived at SVQ, I was 8 months pregnant, it was 96 degrees out, and DD was only 8 years old.  It was a lovely homecoming.

Our friend was already there, and there was lots of hugs and kisses all around.  She had visited Hawaii twice since we moved back, but it had been a few years since her last visit and so she was thrilled to see how big the kids had gotten.  We headed out to the car, with her marveling at our lack of luggage 🙂

We had an easy car trip to her neighborhood, seeing some familiar sights along the way.  Our friend pointed out something new on the Seville skyline- the Seville Tower, also known as Cajasol or Pelli Tower.  She talked about the fact that there had been an unofficial rule that no building should be higher than La Giralda, atop the famous Catedral de Sevilla.  When they built this thing, it essentially dominated the skyline and dwarfed La Giralda.  There were protests, etc from the residents.  From Wikipedia:

It had been reported that UNESCO was considering putting the Seville’s monuments which are classified as World Heritage Sites (the CathedralAlcazar and Archivo de Indias) into the “Threatened List”, because of the tower’s “negative visual impact” on the old town skyline of Seville.[3] UNESCO went so far as to ask the city to reduce the tower’s height, but city officials ignored the requests.[4] 

It’s hideous, and I refused to take a picture of it.  I spotted something much shorter and more charming, and took a picture of that.


These trees (naranjos) produce the famous Seville oranges, from which bitter orange marmalade is made.

Our friend suggested eating breakfast out at a nice spot in her neighborhood, and we enthusiastically agreed, as were all hungry.  She made a good recommendation, because rolls slathered with butter and melocotón jam were enjoyed by all.  Yummy, with a side of excellent conversation and catching up.  Well, the adults were energized- I could see the kids flagging a bit after eating.  We’d had an early start this morning, after all.

We headed “home,” and boy was it nice to be in a proper home again after a week of hotels.  DH and I had to request use of the washing machine right away.  And here, another memory resurfaced.  Most homes in Seville only have washers, not dryers.  We did 2 loads of wash and DH went up to the roof to hang our stuff to dry.  In our apartment way back when, we’d had a huge terrace and 2 large drying racks to do the same.  I vividly recalled some very rainy afternoons when we had to move both drying racks into the living room!

We discussed logistics with our friend.  In the planning stages, she mentioned wanting to learn how to make Ecuadorian-style ceviche for New Year’s Eve.  While we did the laundry, she had shopped for ingredients.  Ceviche is best when allowed to sit for a while, so we prepared it early in the day, then put it in the fridge before heading out to do some touring.

My plan for this day included the laundry, going to buy ceramics in the Triana district, visiting the Mercado de Triana, getting our favorite chicken wings in the world, and stopping by the Feria de Artesanía Creative de Sevilla, a craft fair that was being held in a main plaza.  These things were important to do now, because it was December 31st, and none of these places would be open the next day.  Of course my plan included 4 participants.  Well, the kid were just so cozy and comfortable, with DD ransacking the package of jamón serrano in the fridge, and DS creating math-themed drawings at a proper desk, that DH and I looked at each other and wondered if we should just go by ourselves.

Our friend was pleased to spend quiet time with the kids, so we confirmed bus routes to/from her place, and set out for adult-only touring.  She even provided us a transit card with some value on it to get us into the center of town 🙂

puente de triana

The lovely Giralda in the background.  The weather was spectacular.

Seville has a wonderful bus system, and so with just one route we got to a point by the Isabel II bridge, also known as the Puente de Triana.  We walked across and headed straight to the Ceramica Santa Ana.  This is my favorite ceramic shop in the district, and I was on a hunt for a beautiful trivet.  Now, most of the stuff here is local and hand-painted, but I noticed some items in a slightly different style and curiously looked at the back, which indicated they were produced in Barcelona.  I put those back.  I wanted Sevilla originals.  After wondering aloud how exactly to say the word “trivet” in Spanish, I found the ones I wanted.


Gorgeous, and if you’re curious, the word was guardamantel, which literally means tablecloth-saver.  Love it.

We next wandered through the Mercado de Triana, where I bought some dried guindilla peppers.  They are essential for making mojo rojo  or mojo picón, a delicious red pepper sauce to accompany papas arrugadas.  We enjoyed this recipe from the Canary Islands when we visited Italica and dined at Ventorrillo Canario.  More nice memories at the market- we saw the stall where we had purchased ground beef to make massive American-style hamburgers on Thanksgiving.  Which was just a regular late-November Thursday in Spain, of course.

Crossing back into the center of Sevilla, we walked to the Cathedral, stopping at a neighborhood shop to buy local sweet paprika (pimentón) along the way.  We didn’t enter the Cathedral, but took a good walk around it and enjoyed the surrounding area.

la giralda

La Giralda.

We took a short hop on the tram to get to the Plaza Nueva, where the Feria de Artesanía Creativa de Sevilla was taking place.  A wonderful slow stroll through the stalls led to a stop at a handmade leatherworker’s display.  I spied a luscious teal-colored wallet that had to be mine.  Modern tech is amazing, and this small informal stall had the ability to accept my US-based credit card.

Thrilled with our kid-free status, we took the opportunity to get lost in the Barrio Santa Cruz (the charming old Jewish quarter) on our way to get some chicken wings.  The streets are tiny and twisty-turny, so “getting lost” is actually a fun thing as you wander this way and that, finding tiny picturesque plazas along the way, still trying to move in the right direction.  We held hands and talked about architecture, history, and the trip so far.  Finally, as our stomachs started to growl, we made it to the Freiduría Puerta de la Carne.  They fry all kinds of stuff, like the local-style croquettes and fish, but also chicken wings.  Whole garlic cloves are thrown into the fryer with the chicken, and … <drool>.


We sat at an outdoor table and soaked up the atmosphere.  It was a really relaxing afternoon and I could hardly believe it was New Year’s Eve!  We got another order of wings to go for the folks waiting at home.  The sun was just starting to set, and we figured we should get back.  We walked over to the correct bus stop, with DH navigating, of course.  I was grateful to simply follow his lead.  After about 20 minutes, we were back at our friend’s house.

We cleaned up, and sat down to chat about what we and the kids had done all day.  We swapped Netflix recommendations, and gave our friend the chocolate Euros.  Ah, I promised a story about that… Our time living in Sevilla spanned almost all of December.  Thus, we celebrated Hanukkah while there- DS’s first 🙂  Many of you may know that Hanukkah treats include gelt, or foil-wrapped chocolate coins. We had mentioned to our friend that we weren’t sure where to find them.  She recommended a shop that sold all kinds of chocolates, and we asked about coins.  They did indeed have them- in Euro form.  We got a good laugh out of that, because the gelt we find in Hawaii is not in any one country’s currency per se, and usually has dreidels or menorahs stamped onto them.  So we invited her over for the 1st night of Hanukkah that year, and all enjoyed DH’s delicious latkes and chocolate Euro gelt.  This time it wasn’t Hanukkah, but we figured having some chocolate Euros for New Year’s was still fun.

It was time to eat!  We had a wonderful spread- the ceviche de camarónes, rice, a Spanish soup called salmorejo, chips/hummus, jamón serrano, manchego cheese, wine, and lots of fun little crunchy things.  She loved the authentic Ecuadorian ceviche, and wrote down the recipe so she could make it for her friends in the future.

We tried our best to stay up until midnight, watching the festivities on TV.  We all fell asleep on the living room couch at one point or another, but roused for the big moment at midnight and the traditional eating of the grapes!  Side story: at the work function I attended the day we left Hawaii, one of my coworkers was acting as emcee, and giving out little facts about the holidays between activities.  One of his “facts”: that the Spanish New Year celebration includes eating 12 grapes at midnight (correct), one representing each month of the year (correct), and that they try to put them all in their mouth at the same time (WHAT?! NO).  I had to stand up and say, “In the interest of cultural accuracy, I must tell you that you are supposed to eat one grape per chime of the church bell starting at midnight, and not create a massive choking hazard by eating them all at once.  Thank you for coming to my TED talk.”

the more you know

Anyway, we did indeed eat our grapes as directed, and had to call it a night.  It had been a VERY long day for us.  But for my friend, the fun was just getting started.  She left to go pick up her mother and head to her sister’s house, where they would party the night away.  We wished her a Happy New Year again, and went to bed in Sevilla again, 8 years after the last time 🙂

4 responses to “Europalooza Trip Report Part 10: Hola España

  1. Gina says:

    ah!!!!! sweet memories. Love the details and love


  2. VivaLaDiva405 says:

    This really is one of the best posts, you can tell you love this place ❤


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