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Back in early September 1993 I came to Sevilla for the first time, taking the bus down from Salamanca, in the naive hope of finding an apartment over the course of one weekend. I was so broke that I stayed in the cheapest of hostels for those two nights, located up a small alley, and spent the days poring over newspaper ads for possible places to live. Armed with a pocketful of change I called landlords from various payphones, only to be told they didn’t rent to foreigners. Finally one person said they could show me a studio apartment next to the cathedral. He was a friend of the owner, who was out of town. Fine. This was my final day in town and I was feeling a bit desparate.

We met that evening in Plaza Salvador and I got my first impressive glimpse of the Cathedral, all lit up (I had been too busy house hunting to do any site seeing). And then I was shown a lovely top floor “atico” studio apartment, with a little terrace and a fabulous view of the Cathedral. Not only was it about three times more than I could afford, there was also the not-so-small matter of a deposit, which I actually didn’t have. This didn’t seem to deter the friend, who took me down to the nearest phone booth to call the owner. Luckily he spoke excellent English so I could explain my situation to him better (after a year in Salamanca I was still far from fluent in Spanish). And to my surprise the owner said “Oh, don’t worry about that. You just come down on the 16th and I’ll be there with the keys”. Thinking back, I’m surprised I just took him at his word as there was no written agreement. Then again, I also can’t believe I thought I could go to Sevilla with no deposit money and somehow secure an apartment in one weekend. But I did, and it all worked out.

What’s that got to do with this photo, you ask? Well, it’s the very first thing that struck me as different on my first day in Sevilla – the awnings stretching across the narrow streets in the centre of town, providing much need shade during the summer months. Somehow I found them completely charming – and still do – and I knew I had chosen the right place to live.