Monday, 31 March 2014

The Flamenco Diaries Part One.

So way back at Christmas, my lovely boyfriend Rich got me a wonderful present.
There we are on Christmas Day, complete with a horrendous jumper
 I got for Rich as punishment for being a Scrooge!

He is the worlds most thoughtful gift giver - expert at remembering little things I've mentioned in passing and whipping them out on special occasions, much to my surprise!

As soon as I found out I would be in Seville on placement, I said I wanted to learn flamenco. That was on the 5th March 2013...Richard being Richard, on the 25th December, there in my lap was the confirmation letter of a weekend flamenco course. I was over the moon!!

Booked through, my course included 3.5 hours of technique and compás and palmas (the clapping rhythms that accompany the singer), 2 hours of choreography and entrance to a flamenco show in the evening on the second day.

Starting on friday at 6pm, I went straight from work to the school, Taller Flamenco. It was easy to find, located on Calle Peral one of the streets leading off the Alameda de Hércules (a buzzing hub of tapas bars and children shrieking in the spray of cooling water fans). As I approached, I could hear telling claps and chords being strummed from a flamenco guitar, but couldn't quite work out which building they were coming from as the sound bounced off the other houses in the narrow street. I soon got my answer...
As I was ridiculously early (over half an hour), the lovely receptionist invited me to join a flamenco party that had been in swing since 2pm. As she ushered me up the stairs, offered me a drink and sat me at the table, I realised that the music hadn't been coming from a classroom at all...
...but from the roof. As well as the locals, there were Americans, Russians, Japanese and Germans and, of course, me, the little Brit in the corner, all basking in the sunshine on the terrace. Everyone had nothing but praise for the school and its staff so I was excited to get started.

At five to 6, I wandered back to the office, was presented with my welcome pack (a discount card, a map and a flamenco event/shopping guide) and told to head for Carmen's classroom. With mirrors on two sides, there was nowhere to hide - thankfully as a beginners class they were expecting nothing at all!!

The five of us made a lovely group (two Canadians and three Brits). Carmen was a wonderful teacher, guiding us through our first tentative steps and stamps! There were certainly no photos to document the event - we were all to busy absorbing all the information, brows furrowed in concentration. It was hard to believe that those 'basic' rhythms we were taught make up the fast and furious combinations you see the professionals use -  at 100mph, its hard to distinguish left foot from right, let alone distinguish the actual movements their making.

My only worry about the courses of Go Learn To was that they are clearly intended for tourists. I was worried that we would get a tourist friendly experience (as in 'Well done, you're doing great' when in fact you look like walrus having a fit) rather than an authentic experience where you actually learn something, are corrected on your mistakes and helped to improve.

I needn't have worried about that, I can tell you! Carmen was a hard taskmaster and had us doing thing within the first hour that we never imagined we'd achieve in the whole course! We exchanged pained faces when her back was turned, convinced we'd screw up the latest combination she'd given us, but were usually pleasantly surprised (and if not, we laughed it off!).

After an hour and half of stamping (the poor neighbours), we headed upstairs to our class of compás and palmas. Who knew clapping could be so darn complex?! I mean look at this white board:
 There is our teacher, poised and ready to wipe off the board for a second round of scribblings.

He explained not only the bases and accents of the rhythms but how they combine with the other accompanists (the singers and the guitarists), the hierarchy of accompanists, which rhythms belong to which music style, which rhythm would accompany each stage of the dance...I was almost dizzy!

At some points in the lesson, there was nothing left to do but laugh, as our claps sounded more like a messy round of applause than the rhythm we were trying to follow. I know as a teacher its often laugh or cry...he chose the former and laughed along with us! As our clearly not very musical ears tuned in to the subtleties of the music and our hands turned an alarming shade of red, he was overjoyed when we finally clapped out something coherent in unison!

I will never look at clapping the same way again.

Feeling accomplished, at the end of day one, us Brits rewarded our efforts with a sharing plate of tapas and a well deserved glass of wine...

...anticipating what Saturday would bring.

P.S. Look out for part two, with Saturday's exploits and the flamenco show, coming soon!

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Spanish Life Lessons 4

'Life is...
life is music, listen to it,
life is 'carpe diem', seize it,
life is a flower, protect it,
life is dance, dance it.'

This week's life lesson is courtesy of the compás and palmas classroom at Taller Flamenco, Flamenco school...look out for my Flamenco Diaries posts, coming this week on Amble.

Thursday, 27 March 2014

What could volunteering abroad give you?

So its been a busy couple of weeks here in Seville. I've been doing a lot but haven't seemed to manage to share it all with you lovely people! While I devise a blog plan of action (i.e. Where have I been? When did I go? *write post*), I wanted to share to you something that's close to my heart, and has been since my gap year (where I went to Chile as a volunteer English teacher). 
I have wonderful memories of my time away and have subsequently spent the last 4 years singing its praises to anyone who will listen: I give gap year talks in schools, tell new found friends my stories - in short, I am a general pain! I couldn't very well leave you out, could I?!

Volunteering gave me the greatest gift. Not only did it give me the greatest fountain of pub stories, it gave me memories I’ll cherish forever, a second family on the other side of the globe and it showed me what I loved to do: travel. Whilst volunteering is pretty selfless, what it will give you in return is more than you could ever imagine.

Volunteering gives you the chance to get under the skin of a country
You live and work in a community for an extended period; you get to know what they’re about, how they tick. In the worst and least likely scenario, you’re the token foreigner, who observes from afar. In my experience, you become one of the family, the guest of honour and you are valued far more than you’ll ever realise. I respect the backpackers of the world who hop from place to place, hostel after hostel, country after country, but that’s just not me. To me, the world isn’t a check list. Sure, there are thousands of places I want to see, but I know that I’ll get there in time. There is a difference between seeing a place and living a place – taking time to make roots makes unforgettable memories and a home that will always welcome you with open arms.

Volunteering gives you one hell of an emotional experience
When you’re a volunteer, you can experience such a spectrum of emotions – sometimes they hit you all at once. In developing countries, there will be things that shock and upset you, but, at the same time, things that give you the greatest hope. As a volunteer language assistant, I saw children whose only meal a day was the free one they were given at school, who came to school dirty. I was informed by the school social worker to keep a close eye on one of my students; it turned out he didn’t have a bed to sleep in at home. On the other hand was the student who got a full scholarship to a private academy – the chance of a lifetime for a little boy whose dream was to be a lawyer. It’s one hell of a ride but it reminds you, you’re alive and of how lucky you are.

Volunteering gives you professional experience
No matter what field you want to go in to, there will be an opportunity for you. It can act as a test drive and a door opener. Think you might want to be a doctor? Why not volunteer to work at a health centre in the developing world? Not only will you be helping other people, but you’ll be seeing if the job is really for you before you embark on 7 years of medical school! It also shows universities that you’re serious enough about your chosen career to spend your free time doing something related – serious brownie points!

Volunteering gives you the chance to do things you never thought you could.

Did I ever think I would write the English exams for every year group in a Chilean public school, and then proceed to mark over 1000 papers? Did I ever think I would hike a glacier? Drink wine as its being squirted from a leather bota? No, but I did them. Would I ever have got the chance without biting the bullet, going abroad and getting stuck in? Not a chance. You’ll find you’ll be tested in all sorts of ways – sometimes you’ll feel battered from pillar to post, but in the end you’ll have come out of your comfort zone so many times that you’ll find yourself redefining it’s boundaries all together.

Volunteering gives you the chance to meet the greatest people. 
Be it your work colleagues who end up more like sisters, or the like-minded fellow volunteers you explore with on the weekends, you’ll come home with friends you’ll never forget. 

In short, why aren't you on a plane already??

Monday, 24 March 2014

52 Lists: List your spring to do list.

  1. Make a dent in my dissertation. All that needs doing is converting a pile of half finished research and unanalysed questionnaires in to 5000 words of coherent Russian. 
  2. Schedule some time on this little blog of mine. Writing all the posts I've got planned for you lovely people, learning the art of design and joining the daunting world of social media!
  3. Start being more career focused. First step might be to work out what I'd actually like to do with this crazy life of mine!
  4. Make some plans for summer. A career related placement, more study in Russia, settling back in to life in Bath? What'll it be??
  5. Patch together an outfit for the April Fair. Flamenco dresses start at 150€ (more than little out of budget for an outfit I'll only wear once) - time to get creative!
  6. Read a book or two on my Kindle. It's been laying dormant, gathering dust for far too long!
  7. Elect my final year units for University. And maybe get a head start on the reading...? or maybe I'm being too optimistic again!
  8. Get on top of the piles of paper scribbles. From grammar notes to new vocabulary on the back of napkins, need to get it organised, digitalised and learnt!
  9. Play tour guide. Spring brings a lot of visitors to my lovely town of Seville - best get trip planning for the parents and the Mr.
  10. Take time to stop and smell the roses. Spring is one of my favourite times of year and it often passes me by unmarked, overtaken by deadlines and stress. This year I'm determined to LIVE IT!
The 52 Lists project is organised by Ema over at Made in Hunters. See her list here.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

The one, two, three of new beginnings.

So last week was a week of firsts. After feeling stuck in a cycle of teach, eat, sleep, I decided to grab life by the balls so to speak and shake it up.

First new thing 1: Fitness.

It all started with my 'take something up' for lent idea. After broadcasting my intentions to the interweb, I couldn't very well change my mind, could I?! So on Monday afternoon, off I marched of to the Municipal Sports Centre to sign my life away (or at least my lie ins!). The advertised morning pilates was no longer running due to lack of numbers but the man behind the desk suggested 'Fitness'. With a timetable scribbled on a piece of scrap paper along with monthly subscription info, I left with a promise to return on Wednesday at 9.15am.
Our fitness room: looks like a school gym and smells like one too :(

It's not called fitness for nothing people! By Wednesday 10.15am, I was tomato red, looking like I'd jumped in a swimming pool after being dragged through a hedge attractive mental image for you there!

It's a great class because every session is different, one day circuit, one day step, the next zumba - variety is the spice of life and all that! The teacher Loli is also a real gem. Being the stereotypical English person (i.e. always 10 minutes early), I always have time to have a nice chat with her before class. Unfortunately it makes it hard to hate her when she pushes us hard (rest? no! instead we'll do that step choreography but double speed....oh and here are some weights to add in.)

I've even met a potential new 'fitness' friend! She is a beautician and she'd invited me to go to a beauty fair with her on Sunday. Two goals tackled in one: fitness and friends.

Second new thing: Russian Classes.

With the aim of keeping up my Russian here in Spain, and hopefully finding a nice Russian to proof read my dissertation, I've been on the look out for Russian classes since the day I arrived. Finally, amongst the many posters and adverts that line my usual tapas route through Seville, appeared one for Russian.
The Cyrillic Alphabet via

I've since had two classes in a local cafe, and even though we get the weirdest looks, it feels good to be speaking Russian again. My teacher Anastasia and I are going over the basics for what feels like the millionth time, but I hope it will one day result in my speaking passable, grammatically correct Russian. It seems a long way off right now, but a girl can dream huh?

Third and final new thing of the week: Sevillanas!

Sevillana is one of Spain's national dances and is the heart and soul of the famed Sevillian Feria de Abril. As soon as my placement in Seville was confirmed, I vowed to dance at the fair, flamenco skirt flying!
Sevillanas via

After finding a reasonably priced class by chance through Facebook, I made my way through the winding streets of the Macarena district on a sunny Saturday to find the peña de flamenco, tucked in a corner of the Corralón de los Artesanos (the Artisan's townhouse). 
La Peña de Flamenco 'El Niño de la Alfalfa'

La Corralón is a multifunctional space, home to so many different arts. There are four flamenco schools but they share the space with sculptors, painters and handicrafters - there are even some people who live in the Corralón (as the rent is ridiculously cheap) who have stomping flamenco rhythms as a permanent soundtrack. It's a curious kind of place but I feel like I'll fit right in.

The dance itself is like nothing I've ever danced before - stamping, foot changing, partner spinning. It's all very confusing! I hope soon I'll know enough to give you a full low down - for now I just spend the class staring at my heeled shoes, hoping that soon my feet will behave themselves enough for me to add in those classic flamenco arms.

This weeks life lessons: 
  1. If you don't like the way things are going, switch it up! You'll be grateful you did.
  2. Good things definitely do come in threes!

Monday, 17 March 2014

52 lists: list the things beside your bed.

*pre-warning: my room is a mess so nothing is where it should be. I wish I could say that this is an isolated incident but unfortunately I am a slob.

  1. a big mug of lady grey tea.
  2. bowl with crumb evidence of my mid-afternoon cake snack (got to balance out the exercise somehow!).
  3. my favourite picture of my boyfriend and I.
  4. some fossil aviator sunglasses.
  5. No7 dry skin rescue (acting as aftersun for my recently burnt nose - damn you 34 degree Sunday)
  6. my make up bag and the Front Cover weekender set.
  7. my Bath Uni diary (barely used).
  8. Jodi Picoult's Picture Perfect (unread).
  9. a bag of clean washing yet to be put away.
  10. my pjs in a ragged heap.
  11. my kindle (charging lead still poking out the bottom).
  12. Cambridge Complete First Certificate Workbook with answers (I may or may not plan my lessons/do my marking in the comfort of a duvet fort - guess you'll never know!).

The 52 Lists project is organised by Ema over at Made in Hunters. See her list here.

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Bodega de Santa Cruz

On a fairly average Wednesday night, I took my first step on the yellow brick road to tapas overdose by visiting the first of the many restaurants bookmarked in my Lonely Planet challenge.

Bodega Santa Cruz.
Located on Calle Mateos Gago, in the Barrio de Santa Cruz (read tapas district), the restaurant is fairly unassuming. It's not trendy nor does it have a waiter poised to pounce on passers by with a menu. It just perches on its little corner with welcoming sound of chatter from within and people, drinks in hand, spilling out to occupy its pavement tables.
Inside menus are posted on chalk boards ready to be erased at a moments notice as dishes things sell out (as they often seem to). Even on a Wednesday, there wasn't a seat in the house so standing it was! I am far from a tapas connoisseur and I was more than slightly bewildered at the scribbles that greeted me from the board. One of the barmen asked what I wanted but there was only so long that I could stall him by asking for a glass of house white. After about 5 minutes, he must have sensed my stupid foreigner vibe as he offered to make my selection for me, asking only if I wanted meat or fish. I decided on one of each. 

And this is what arrived:
Solomillo al Whiskey
Buñuelos de bacalao

Now I must say that I wasn't highly impressed in terms of presentation. Their 'put it on a plate and bung a few bread sticks or a slice of bread on top philosophy' wasn't really doing it for me. As for the offering underneath the bread mountain, it looked a bit school dinner-ish. 

I braced myself but was pleasantly surprised! 

The flavours were great, just like something I imagine a Spanish granny to produce at the drop of a hat for unannounced guests. Fresh ingredients and traditional flavours.

Solomillo al whiskey is pork tenderloin in a garlic and whiskey sauce. Manolo, the barman I struck up conversation with, told me that it is reputed to be the best in town. Though I've not sampled enough examples to know, I will vouch for the fact that it's pretty damn good. I loved the sweetness of the almost clear sauce and thankfully for fellow commuters on my bus home, wasn't too overpoweringly garlicy.

Buñuelos de bacalao translates as cod sweet fritters. The result is like a well seasons fish cake ball. Interesting fact: colloquially buñuelo is used to talk about shoddy work or a botched job.

As you eat what you owe is tallied on the bar with chalk, no bills or receipts here my friends.
At 5.80€ for two (substantial) tapa and a glass of house white, I was more than thrilled with the price.

I left the bar full, with a promise to return to visit my new friend Manolo and wishing I had more space to cram in more delights.
Keeping my word, I visited again on Saturday to find the bar full to bursting. I wasn't going to bother looking for a space when a voice shouting 'Señorita!' over the crowd, ushered me forward to the bar. It was literally elbow room only!

Manolo was nowhere to be seen and left to my own devices I ordered on a wing and a prayer and this is what I was bought:
Salpicón de Mariscos 
Pollo al Ajíllo
Flamenquín de Chorizo.

I can't even begin to explain the happiness that these little plates of joy bought me: washed down with a ice cold beer, in a heaving bar, amidst the almost deafening conversation levels of the locals. For me, this is what life in Seville is all about! Welcome to Andalucía.

Perfect for: a quick bite by the Cathedral, an authentic bar experience, home cooking, cheap eats.

Price: 2€ to 2.5€ per plate. Alcohol was fairly darn cheap, though exacts are hard to say when your bill is whatever Manolo shouts at you!

Verdict: The perfect start to a tapas adventure.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Real Alcázar, Seville

My trip to the Alcázar was a pretty spur of the moment thing. Having planned a lazy Sunday in the face of a week of bad weather, I was pleasantly surprised to wake up to sunshine and blue skys. As my previous trip to the Alcázar had been rained off the week before, I took it as a sign and down I went in to Seville on the midday bus.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, a second home to the Spanish Royal Family and a Seville must-see, I had pretty high expectations.

The beauty of the building itself can't be denied and, built in the fourteenth century, it is considered to be one of the best examples surviving of Mudéjar architecture in the world. Mudéjar is a style which has strong Moorish influences. The moors where medieval Muslim conquerors from countries like Morocco and Algeria who were in power here in the South of Spain (and much of the Iberian peninsular) from 719 to 1482. With over 700 years to lay roots, you can see how this Arabic style has permeated so many areas of Spain. 

Arches, natural light, intricate carvings - I just can't get enough of it! I would die to live in a place like this, perhaps a tad unrealistic though, wherever would you buy furniture that could live up to rooms as grand as these. Besides, as the world's oldest royal palace still in use today, I'd have to share it.
The palace facade from the courtyard.
Welcome to the Salón de Embajadores. The ceremonial centre of the palace, clearly built to astound visiting officials. In my opinion its the Alcázar's crowning glory.
Patio de las Doncellas, named after the ladies of the palace who spent much of their time there. Could you imagine a glass of Pinot Grigio with that as a backdrop? Yes please!
Just look at that detail!
The palace gardens: customary orange trees, check! (this is Seville you know, it's not a garden if its not full of these!)
This guy was a real crowd pleaser (read idiot), throwing Cheetos to the huge fish who occupy this lovely corner of the garden. Not sure how their little tummies will cope with those...
Los Baños de Doña María de Padilla.

Under the main bulk of the palace lies this little sanctuary. A cool, shady place to escape the heat of blazing sun which soaks the gardens, these baths have a double function: somewhere to bathe away the heat of the day and rainwater storage. They are named after the mistress of King Peter the Cruel (doesn't he sound like a joy!). 

Overall verdict:

I loved the palace (as you can probably tell I'm a sucker for mudéjar) but I feel it was let down by its overall organisation as a tourist attraction. Short of buying the audio guide (another 5-7€ on top of your already steep ticket price of 9.50€), there is little information available on the best order in which to see things and what you're looking at when you get there! I'd recommend buying the add on if you're a history lover like me because I regret being tight.

I was also unaware that you could buy tickets to see the Royal Family's residential apartments on the Upper Floor (Tours leave every hour, only 15 people admitted per tour), which is something I would have been interested in. Shame the ticket people didn't try and up sell that one! 

Top Tips:
  • Buy the damn audio guide even if you resent it.
  • Check out the official website before you go to see if there are any special events on (sometimes they do visits by night, which I imagine would be magical!)
  • Don't try and do the Cathedral and the Alcázar in one day - if you go round everything properly, it would be overkill! Follow with a chilled glass of white and some tapas!

Until next time,
With love from Seville

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Supermarket Sweep

The foreign foods sections of supermarkets - to me, a place of wonderment. A place where you can procure weird and wonderful ingredients from across the world and learn about the food habits of other cultures. At home in England, I'm always drawn to the Thai and Indian food sections - with ingredients I've never heard of let alone attempted to prepare. I've always wondered if natives of these exotic lands would think of these shelves as an accurate representation of their homeland, of the flavours, comforts and memories associated with their cuisine.

The answer to this question, which had never been more than a fleeting thought in Sainsbury's, hit me in the most unusual of places: in the Carrefour Superstore in Camas, Seville, when I was faced with the 'English' shelves in their foreign foods section.

It is interesting when you are faced with the things that someone in a supermarket HQ has deemed representative of your country. I have to say I was fairly impressed. I think we English people are a fairly simple race, and we're easily pleased (proved by how much I squealed when I saw the comida inglesa sign).
Things that are representative of English food according to Carrefour:
Kettle chips
Cider (Bulmers, Magners and Strongbow) - good show!
Various Jams
Various kinds of chocolate chip cookie
Short bread
Fig rolls
Tea time biscuit selection
Porridge oats (unfortunately not Ready Brek)
Breakfast cereals (including Weetos and Alpen, but not Cornflakes or Weetabix)
John West Tinned Tuna and Salmon
Tetley Tea
Sunpat Peanut Butter
Bisto Gravy
Branston Pickle
Baked Beans (both Branston and Heinz)
Heinz Salad Cream
Heinz Cream of Tomato Soup
Heinz Hot Sauce (3 varieties)
Jacobs crackers

Think that pretty much sums us up doesn't it?? Apart from the addition of a full on Roast, Pie or Fish Chips and Mushy Peas, I thought they did pretty well.

 I couldn't help picking up a few treats from my supermarket sweep:
1. Branston Pickle: I had a real craving for a cheese and pickle sandwich even before I left the UK. I made one to take as a little packed lunch on my Easy Jet flight over and left it in the car. Devastated is not even the world. As soon as I saw it there on the shelf, I knew I had to have it! The most expensive of the purchases, it set me back €2.10
2. Jacob's Fig Rolls: Not everyone's favourite biscuit but I have serious food jealousy issues when my boyfriend admitted he'd bought and consumed and entire packet one day last week. Pricey, pricey, compared to the own brand ones you can find at home, at €1.76
3. Strongbow Cider: I go to uni in the West Country - Cider is pretty much a food group there buts not something you see regularly outside of the UK. It was the cheapest of the 3 ciders on offer, and the cheapest purchase I made at €1.27.

Worth it? Most definitely!

Elsewhere in the supermarket, I also found many delights (of the Sunny variety) that are no longer on sale in the UK. That is what childhood memories are made of:

I even managed to pick up an old favourite from my time in Mallorca, Sobrasada (a spicy meat spread).
Though not a patch on the homemade, farm fresh originals I used to get on the Island, it made a nice Spanish breakfast alongside some jamon and tomatoes!

Do you think Carrefour got it right? What products would you add to their shelves?

Monday, 10 March 2014

52 lists: List the things you want to make

  1. A cup of tea to warm my chilly hands!
  2. better use of my time - I'm such a procrastinator/lazy bum! I have a pile of dissertation work and Spanish books to work through but spend my life clicking through the internet mindlessly, or spending a million hours to perfect on one tiny task.
  3. at least 100 DIYs for a whole range of things - from light up headboards to cross stitch necklaces! I always favourite them but never get round to actually making any of them: 1. I don't have anywhere to put interior design related DIYs (which are my faves) and 2. I am horrifically clumsy and would probably do myself and injury with any kind of craft tool.
  4. banana cupcakes - unfortunately someone ate the last banana, dammit.
  5. new friends through new hobbies - though I'm not sure 9am fitness classes are the best form of socialising!
  6. more amazing memories during my year abroad - I'm planning a list of road trips as long as my arm to explore the south of Spain, when they will come to fruition nobody knows!
  7. a game plan - as the end of third year comes creeping, the dreaded word career has to enter my vocabulary as the prospect of fourth year job applications loom. More importantly, I have to plan how we're going to celebrate my lovely Mr's special birthday later this year, and a holiday to celebrate graduation when it finally rolls around.

The 52 Lists project is organised by Ema over at Made in Hunters. See her list here.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

My latest crazy project: The Lonely Planet Restaurant Challenge

My first two experiences of tapas here in Seville left a lot to be desired. 
I followed the advice of my boss. She told me never to visit an empty bar - the Spanish flock to where the food is best, whether there is a wait or not. Fairly sound advice, you'd think.

Typically, I must have chosen the only two tapas bars in the whole of Spain where this was not the case...cue inedible aliños (cold, seasoned dishes) in one bar and extortionately over-priced wine and jámon in another.

Disillusioned, I turned to my students for help. Questions of 'where is your favourite place to eat in Seville?' were met with a cacophony of negative responds: ' It's too expensive to eat out in Seville', 'Eat before you leave the house and then you won't be disappointed', and even the blasphemous 'McDonald's is just fine when you're sightseeing'! 

I couldn't believe what I was hearing!! This is the Mediterranean! Spain is the land of olive oil, jamón, paellas and mouth watering stews! Surely, in one of the most popular city break destinations in the country, there must be eateries to suit all budgets showcasing la auténtica España.

My last and only hope was old faithful.
Lonely Planet - the holy grail of guidebooks.

In the past, it has led me to many a backstreet gem - most notably my favourite cafe in all of St Petersburg, Loft Project Etagi, a multifunctional hostel, come gallery, come cafe housed in a former bread factory. It has proved itself to be a useful companion on many a journey, so it was time to take the plunge for this one. Though Seville doesn't have a city guide of its own, it has a sizeable chapter in their Andalucía book (which is downloadable chapter by chapter in pdf from their website).

Lonely Planet had managed to dedicate a fairly healthily sized portion of its Seville space to restaurants with all manner of budgets in mind - perhaps they know something my students don't! Separated by district, the recommendations all have street addresses, a Euro rating to show you price ranges and forewarning of any closures.

23 weeks, 27 restaurants and 3 bars. Can it be done? I guess, we're going to find out.

I have set my self the challenge to eat my way around Lonely Planet Seville...
and you lucky people are coming along for the ride.

I'll be posting reviews of all the restaurants I visit and you can keep track of my progress on my challenge page above. So here goes...

The List.


Barrio de Santa Cruz, Alcazár and Cathedral
Vinería de San Telmo
Casa Tomate
Restaurante Engaña Oriza
Cafe Bar Las Teresas
Corral del Agua
Restaurante La Albahaca
Álavaro Peregil
Bodega Santa Cruz
Horno de San Buenaventura

El Arenal
Enrique Becerra
Mesón Cinco Jotas
Mesón de la Infanta
Mesón Serranito

El Centro
Los Coloniales
Santo Restaurante
Bar Alfafa
Robles Laredo
Bar Europa
Confíteria La Campana
El Rinconcillo

Café de La Prensa
Casa Cuesta
Ristorante Casa Nostra

Alameda de Hércules
Duo Tapas
Bar-Restaurante Eslava

Baños Árabes Tetería
Bulebar Cafe
El Garlochi

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Taking up something for Lent.

So yesterday was Pancake Day. Held every year on Shrove Tuesday, we spent the day gobbling down as many pancakes as we can stomach (or maybe others take a more moderate approach?).

Pancake day always holds happy memories for me. Our pancakes were an after school affair - my Grandad was always in charge of the main event (the pancakes themselves), but we were in charge of our own fillings (think a literal sugar mountain with as little lemon as I could squeeze). I always loved watching him flip them and I am now rather practised in the art myself.

As such, I couldn't let the day go unmarked...
 Smiley fillings: the tradition lemon and sugar, banana and nutella
 Sheer lemony perfection - with a lemon picked from the tree outside my window, dont ya know! Unfortunately, the banana and nutella ones didn't survive long enough for the camera to get a look in.

Pancake day is traditionally about getting rid of rich foods before you give them up over the period of Lent (of course, back in the day, butter and eggs were luxuries!). Many people take up lent related challenges of giving up chocolate or going veggie, but, lets face it, no one really wants to go without and most will cave before the week is out. 

I read somewhere that it only takes 30 days to make something a habit so instead of giving up something for Lent, I thought why not take up something and make a change.

So here goes, announcing to the internet that I will go to Pilates class two mornings a week starting next week...
If you see me online on Wednesday or Friday mornings between 9am and 10am, shoot me.