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The Feria De Abril, Sevilla…and driving on the sidewalk

April 26, 2010

Nightime in Sevilla

04.26.10

Sevilla

La Feria de Abril en Sevilla“…the very sound of it is romantic, at least as romantic as it can be when you bring along your 8 and 10 year old for a weekend getaway in a studio apartment! But April in Sevilla is one of the most world’s most fabulous experiences where climate, tradition, and lifestyle intersect to create a magical place and time. The orange trees are in blossom filling the air with an unbelievable scent. The days are warm and night chill tempered by the warm breeze off of the Guadalquivir. Caballeros with wide-brimmed hats and copas de fino in hand mounted on the Andalusian horses of legend. And the stunning dark haired Spanish princesses parading around town in there finest finery. Wow…it is like living in a post card!

So before we go into the topics of the weekend, let’s start with a brief description of the Feria de Abril in concept. So in Sevilla, the easter celebrations of the Semana Santa take on a much more religious and serious tone than that in Malaga where it is just another excuse to eat and drink and mill about in a crowd. After all, this is the very same Sevilla that held the weekly bar-b-ques that prominently featured those of the Islamic or Jewish faith. They take their catholic faith with a bit more severity and seriousness here than in other parts of Andalusia. So after a week of hooded nazarenos, gilded tronos, suffering christ images, more virgens than you can shake a stick at, the Sevillanas are just about ready to bust a gut.

What a better way to blow off some steam than a weeklong orgy of decadance…it’s kind of like an “after the fact Mardis Gras.” So a couple of weeks after the solemnity of Semana Santa, the whole town shuts down for a week of eating, dressing up, horse rides, drinking, and presumably other human passions..like carnival rides and cotton candy! The whole town is bustling with horses, horse carriages, men in suits, and the women…ohhh the women! The Sevillian women are arguably some of the most beautiful in the world, and during feria, the dresses and the hair and the shoes and the makeup…wow! That, in a nutshell, is the feria de abril in Sevilla…and we were here to see it!

So how exactly does one get to the feria? Well, in our case we got to the feria by driving on the sidewalk! That’s right, I, Ricardo Eduardo, drove on the sidewalk…and it wasn’t the first time either! It’s a concept that is so foreign to my being that the hair stands up on my arms every time I do it. But afterwards the glow and the overwhelming feeling of contentment…I feel like smoking a cigarette…and I don’t even smoke! So here’s what happened.

We had rented another great apartment from our new found friends Gregorio and Jorge…brothers from Sevilla who have created a business out of refurbishing old buildings and creating a mixed use style of architecture…some retail space, some long term rental, some vacation rental. We had discovered them on the web when we were looking for rural lodging in the Sierra Aracena. We had rented the cool little converted horse barn from them in Valdelarcos and I was talking to them about my troubles finding lodging in Sevilla for the feria. Gregorio said that he had a great little studio available and one thing led to another and we ended up renting his horse corral and a studio in the old town of Sevilla.

So we have the address for the apartment and Tanya, our GPS likes the address and plot our course. As we pull into Sevilla, she is directing us to the apartment just fine until we encounter a main street that apparently has been confiscated for use by busses and taxis for the duration of the feria. Tanya didn’t understand this…even after I screamed at her a few times in my broken Spanish. So, we had to go to plan B which involved driving around the road that we couldn’t drive on until we were comfortable that she had recalculated a different route that did not take in the road that was closed. This was accomplished after about 20 minutes of tense driving, a few terse exchanges between me, the co-pilot, and the guys that come up to your window trying to sell you kleenex at the stop lights..(it’s a Sevilla thing…they must all have runny noses??)

So we finally get into position where Tanya has directed us to some of the small streets and we can see the flag on the screen that denotes that we are close to our final destination, the apartment, and the promise of an ice-cold beer. The only thing between us in the car and the empty apartment and the ice-cold beer is….a very large sidewalk, full of shoppers! “Hold on Honey, we’re going in hot” I shout as I pull down the sun visor, turn on my blinkers and place my sweaty itchy trigger finger on the horn…just in case. Now you have to appreciate the scene…this is a pedestrian mall, on a Friday night, filled with shoppers, babies in strollers, camera toting German tourists with orange shoes, sidewalk cafes, old people strolling arm in arm, and us, in Carmen, driving slowly, parting the crowd, much like a modern day Moses in a ’93 Renault. But to our amazement, the Police are not called, no dirty looks are flashed, the diners in the cafe even “schooch” their chairs in a bit so we can pass by without clocking them on the back of the head with our side mirrors…just another day in “el centro”.

So we reach an area where the sidewalk widens a bit and crowds have thinned a bit and we can see a small cobbled street a few yards in the distance…so we park the car, on the sidewalk! I tuck Carmen in close to the building between 2 big automatic garage doors…there is no sign stating specifically that we can’t park here, there is another car parked a few feet down, and there aren’t too many people walking by…”It’s perfect” I shout in glee, glowing in my new-found parking Karma! We get our bags, lock Carmen and head out in search of our apartment.

Now we are very close to the address we have been given and put Tanya in “walking mode” and head out, looking something like an upscale version of a homeless family with our fancy new roll aboards, a plastic shopping bag of food and bed roll for Riley as she will end up sleeping on the floor. We navigate the street aptly named “Siete revueltas” (the street of the seven turns) to a cool little plaza where we had driven through only a few minutes prior. There was a terrified German tourist frantically explaining to a policeman something about a crazy man in a red car that had just driven through the crowd but we lowered our heads a bit and quickly walked on past.

We found our apartment and it was perfect, one floor above the street on a side alley. It was a true studio with a bed / couch, a small kitchen, bathroom and that was about it. We dropped the bags, locked the kids in watching TV and headed downstairs to the bar for a well deserved  jarre de Sangia. After the first one, we had thoughts of a second, but Laura had some shopping to do. There was a dress shop that sold nothing but feria dresses and she had to have one. So I, not one to miss out on a whole room full of gorgeous women all trying on slinky, frilly, tight fitting dresses, went along for moral support.

The whole shop was full of feria dresses…think flamenco meets Barbie doll. The dresses were in every pattern, color style, shape and texture that you could imagine. Laura picked out 1 and I picked out one…for Laura , not me, …really! As we took the dresses off the rack, we were stunned by how much they weighed…no less than 20 lbs. All the fabric and lace and linings added up so that wearing one these get ups was like putting on ankle weights and then walking around for 6 – 8 hours! So she tried them on and settled on the red one with purple background…until we got the price E190! Ouch! It was a great dress, and she looked hot…but for E190? She didn’t look THAT hot..I’d settle for a dress from Target, a couple of excedrin and a six pack of Bud!  It was just too much. All the sangria aside, we decided to defer the decision until the morning and returned to the nest to check on the kids.

They were understandably feeling a bit hungry, we were understandably a bit tipsy, so we decided that is was time for dinner…about 9:30! So we headed out, walked for 30 minutes in a big circle, bought Laura a different dress at less than half the price, and ended up eating about 200 meters from our apartment! Thus stuffed, the girls headed back to the apartment where we discovered a small party was going on up on the terrace. Now we were not invited but we could hear the guitar music and we got to see all the folks all dressed up for feria…really cool. I went out to look for some good photos and walked the streets of Sevilla for a few a hours after the girls went to bed.

A candle in Our Apartment in Sevilla

I got a couple of good shots but was done by midnight and headed home. As I laid down in bed, I could hear the sound of the classical Spanish guitar from the rooftop, and the voice of the flamenco song drifting in on the warm orange scented breeze through the curtains as I fell asleep. Ahhh Sevilla in Abril…what could be better? And tomorrow, the Feria!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Burt Rosenthal permalink
    April 26, 2010 6:28 pm

    Rick,

    What no “Barber of Seville”????

    Great BLOG….Enjoy.

    Stay healthy. lOVE TO ALL.

    Burt

  2. Jen Berkley permalink
    April 27, 2010 3:50 pm

    Can’t WAIT to see Laura in her Fera dress…oh la la!!!!

  3. SHARON JIMEENZ (GRAMMY) permalink
    April 28, 2010 10:31 am

    Sounds like a great time in Sevilla. Please send a picture of your three girls at the Feria. Have a great time in Amsterdam. LOVE, GRAMMY

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