Exploring Seville, Spain

A tour of historic Seville

Seville is the capital of Andalusia region in southern Spain. A historic city popular with tourists, it’s old town contains three UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Alcázar palace complex, the Sevilla Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies.

My wife Glenda is Hawaiian-Filipino and her Filipino ancestry trace back to Seville with a migration around early 1890s during Spanish colonial era. With her recent DNA test showing her still 1/4th Iberian and her middle name (Sevilla) still bearing the heritage, a trip to Seville was an obvious choice. And when we landed she was beaming at the airports large signboard!

We arrived in Seville from Atlanta via Lisbon, Portugal. The airport is well organized and have a delicious restaurant right next to the security checkpoint!

We decided to stay at the historic old town and took a 30 min taxi ride from the airport. Some areas in historic district are only accessible on foot which was a treat exploring the historic wonders!

Musician playing Spanish guitar by the cathedral

After freshening up at the historic Murillo apartments, we started our walk toward Plaza de Colone for our bus tour around the city.

The nicely laid out historic district is an enjoyable experience including Street side Flamenco dance.

The Hop on hop off bus tour took us all around the city with an audio guide explaining notable sites.

Getting a sit at the upper level in good weather is best to enjoy sightseeing in the bus tour
The famous bull fighting arena of Seville
The blending of Muslim and Spanish design is prominent in Andulasia

The Seville harbour, located about 50 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, is the only river port in Spain. The river splits the city in two distinct regions.

The River Guadalquivir made Seville an important City during the Spanish Golden age back in 16th century
The famous Macarena church housing the priceless gold statue of Virgin Mary brought out during the annual procession
An example of modern Seville from the 1992 Expo that gave rise to the Technology district

After the bus tour and quick lunch, we headed to the Royal Alcazar for a guided tour. The palace grounds has been in existence since 10th century during Muslim Spanish rule and there are even remnants of walls from the Roman period. It was rebuilt in it’s current Andalusian Mudejar style by King Pedro I in late 14th century. More recently the palace interior and garden were filmed for the HBO hit series ‘Game of Thrones’.

Real Alcazar, palace of the Spanish monarchy for 5 centuries
Patio de las Doncellas courtyard
One of the access-gates (b. 14th century) to Salón de los Embajadores in Palace of Peter of Castile
The famous Royal gardens featured in the fictional kingdom of Dorne in HBO series ‘Game of Thrones’
The Royal bath and reflective pool
The interior facade by the pond of the Royal gardens where they still have live fish!
A photo op for the ladies next to back facade of the garden of Real Alcazar

One of the big attraction of Seville is it’s amazingly diverse and colorful cuisine. Tapas was invented in this city during the Spanish Golden age. Below are a few delicious samples!

Simone checking out the tasty treats at a Spanish bakery
Anadlusian Breakfast at a cafe
Tapas!!
Eggplant and red bell pepper dish
Dinner in the historic district next to our Murillo apartments

Exploring Seville was a memorable experience for us. The charm of it’s old town cobblestone streets, historic architecture and delicious food makes it a must see in any Spanish trip.

Courtyard of the historic Murillo apartments
Historic old town Seville at night
Stage and lobby at a historic 17th century Flamenco apparel factory, now a hotel
Shops line up the streets connecting old town to Plaza de Colone

We also took day trip to nearby Andulusian white villages of Zahara and Grazalema and historic Ronda.

White village of Zahara Della Sierra
White village of Grazalema
Historic Ronda

Finally, check out the below video clip for a live experience of our tour in Seville. Enjoy!

Exploring Seville – A Video Blog

Travel Guide – Exploring Europe in 4 weeks

Europe travel guide

Travelling across Europe, especially in summer, can be an exciting adventure. This is a brief guide on how to do it based on our own real life experience. The guide is primarily geared toward residents from North America but applicable for most travelers flying into Europe. The travels in this guide took place between 2015 and 2019.

Planning

To prepare, you should start planning at least 6-7 months ahead. A helpful resource for planning is Rick Steves Europe Travel Guide and his audio guide and books.

We use hotels.com and AirBnB for accommodation, Kayak for airlines, Duolingo app for foreign language learning, Viator/TripAdvisor for guided tours, Man in seat61 for train connections and Google Search for train, maps and attractions. Make sure you have an international plan with your wireless carrier for your smartphone. Verizon and T-Mobile has the most Europe friendly plans in our experience. For best price and availability, book ahead by at least following timeline:

  • International flights: 3-5 months
  • Long distance Trains: 3 months
  • Flights within EU: 2-3 months
  • Car Rental: 6-8 weeks
  • Hotels/AirBnB: 4-6 weeks
  • Guided Tours: 4-6 weeks
  • Local Trains: 2 weeks

It is better to book the international flight first so you know where to fly in and then plan remaining itinerary.

Places to Visit

The sites visited and the accompanying video blog series are described in my blog Best Of Europe. When in a site, use your smartphone and Google map as much as needed to get the most out of your visit.

The roadmap

Visiting all these sites in a single trip is possible if you have 4-6 weeks in hand. However, you can split it in multiple trips to suit your budget and availability. Below is a suggested itinerary.

1. Fly into Europe via A) London, Then take a flight to Vienna, Austria. Or B) fly to Vienna directly.

2. Take a guided day trip from Vienna to Budapest, Hungary. Explore Vienna as well.

3. Take an OBB train from Vienna to Salzburg for a half day tour. Then a scenic train trip from Salzburg to Munich.

4. Take a day trip from Munich into Bavaria exploring Oberammergau, Linderhof and Newscheinstein. Then head to Zurich via train and enjoy the scenic Rhine river valley and nearby Basel and Rheinfelden.

5. Fly or take train from Zurich to Milan. Take a day tour to Lake Como. Then explore Milan before heading to Venice by train.

6. Explore Venice, then take the train to Florence. Explore Florence. Then take a day trip of Tuscany covering Siena, Pisa and San Giminano.

7a. Head to Genoa by train. Then take a Mediterranean cruise from Genoa or Savona exploring Marseilles, Nice, Monaco and Barcelona. Take day excursions from the cruise ports. Then fly to Marseilles. An alternative to cruise is available in next step.

7b. If skipping cruise then fly from Milan or Florence to Nice. Then explore the Riviera (Nice, Monaco, Ezze, Cannes) by car.

8. Rent the car (preferably automatic and German) from the airport. Then explore Provence by car including Avignon, Arles and Niemes.

9. Fly from Marseilles or Nice to Madrid. Explore Madrid. Then take the train to Seville. Explore Andalusian sites like Ronda, White Villages, Granada via guided day tours. Then head back to Madrid via Cordoba in Train. Spend half or a full day in Cordoba to explore. From Madrid take a flight to Paris.

10. In Paris explore the beautiful city as well as nearby Versailles. Take guided tour to nearby Champagne region or Normandy.

11. Then fly or take the train to London. Explore London. If your entry to Europe was in Vienna then fly back to Vienna. Finally, head back home!

Zahara, an Andalusian village

Tour of a famous white village in Andalusia, Spain

Zahara de la Sierra is a picturesque village in the province of Cádiz in Andalusia, southern Spain. Perched on a mountain, overlooking a valley and a man-made lake formed by a dam, this beautiful village is conveniently located between Seville and Ronda. It is considered to be one of the pueblos blancos or “white towns” because the overwhelming majority of the buildings are white.

Below is a photo gallery of our brief tour to Zahara.

Travel – Best of Europe

Travel 50+ sites in Europe in this playlist!

This video blog series is a trip across Europe compiled over a few years. It is also a roadmap for travelling all these sites in a single trip if you have 4-6 weeks available. For details on preparation and a suggested itinerary for such a trip check out this blog .

Places to visit

We start in Budapest, Hungary and head west across the Alps visiting Vienna and Salzburg in Austria. Then tour Munich, Linderhof and Newscheinstein in picturesque Bavaria, Germany and end up in Switzerland visiting Zurich, Basel and Rheinfelden.

We then head south to Northern Italy visiting lake Como and Milan before reaching historic Venice by the Adriatic sea. We then crisscross across Italy visiting Florence, Siena, San Giminano and Pisa in sunny Tuscany. Our Italian tour continues west through Genoa and Savona and into Ventigmilia of the Italian Riviera.

Moving onto the French Riviera we visit Nice, Eze, Villafranca and Monaco. Driving further west we explore beautiful French villages and towns of Lacoste, Cavallion, Arles and Avignon ending up in the port city of Marseilles.

Their we embark on a cruise exploring the Mesiterranen including Barcelona, Spain! Heading deeper into Spain we explore Madrid and the Andalusian cities and villages of Seville, Zahara, Grazalema and Ronda. We then fly north to romantic Paris and royal Versailles before ending our journey in London, England!

The video blog

The White Village of Grazalema, Andalusia, Spain

A brief tour of the white village of Grazalema

Grazalema is a village located in the northeastern part of the province of Cádiz, in the autonomous community of Andalusia, Spain. Situated in the foothills of the Sierra del Pinar mountain range.
During Muslim rule in the 8th century, the area acquired the name of Raisa lami Suli, “town of the Banu al-Salim”, place which passed to Ben-salama, “Son of Zulema and later Grand Zulema”. With the Christian conquest in 1485, the name morphed into Zagrazalema. It became economically important as of the 17th century thanks to the drapery industry which produced the famous shawls of Grazalema.

Today it is a famous tourist attraction and voted one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. Enjoy the video below for a brief tour of this picturesque white village in Andalusia.

Touring an Olive Oil factory in Andalusia, Spain

A tour of an olive oil factory near the white village of Zahara, Andalusia, Spain

The white villages of Andalusia are famous for their scenic beauty. In addition to tourism, this region also accounts for 50% of world’s olive oil production. The video blog below is a virtual tour of one such well known olive oil factory near Zahara in Cadiz province of Spain. This factory has been in operation since mid-1700s. Enjoy the tour!