It’s a cloudy day here in Sevilla, with other clouds looming over having to leave my home soon, and so it feels like there are clouds everywhere. And so… CATS!
When I moved to my present apartment in 2011 things were bad enough. I remember looking at so many dumps, so that when I found this place I didn’t hesitate, even though it was considerably more than what I had been paying. A couple of years later I found out it was considerably more than what most people were paying, plus I had the serious problem of the bar noise in the street, and so the landlords put the rent down until this past February. Now it’s back up to not quite what I was originally paying, but it seems a fair price all things considered.
I haven’t seriously considered moving, in spite of the street noise, but now it looks like I won’t have any choice. Things with the landlady have become so stressful that it’s really affecting my sense of well-being here, and the state of the apartment worsens every month. She is refusing to pay for repairs on things like the central heating, or repay me for the oven I bought in December, or replace other basic standard equipment that has broken down over the past year or so. I mean, this is bound to happen after living somewhere for over 6 years. Things will need to be repaired, replaced and maintained, but the landlady doesn’t see it this way. So this morning I sent her an email saying that these things need to be addressed as they are in our contract, but I am dreading the next meeting with her. And in any case, I am sure that once the (now annual) contract comes up for renewal in February, she will say she doesn’t want to renew. And I won’t have anything to say about that. Meanwhile she will refuse to repair things.
Anyhow, I’d been casually looking around since the last Landlady Episode in February, but I think it’s time to start looking in ernest. At first I thought that within nine months I am bound to find somewhere else I like, but now I’m not so sure. The more I look around, the more I see that most housing in the centre has now been converted to holiday apartment and AirBnB rentals. And while I can understand that home owners can make more money this way, it is also destroying the sense of neighbourhood in the, um, neighbourhoods. A few years ago this was mostly apparent in the barrio Santa Cruz where I used to live. But now it’s spread to pretty much the entire Casco Antiguo, the central area within the old city walls, which is actually quite big. So it’s not looking very promising.
I remember not wanting to leave my old place in barrio Santa Cruz, but it turned out that moving to the Alfalfa to a larger apartment that had – or used to have – central heating and air-con, turned out to be a move for the better. Now I am feeling the same way, that I don’t want to leave, that I’ll never find anywhere I like as much… but you never know. Wish me luck!
This will be the first time I have been able to attend Gastro Sevilla. I have been invited to the previous editions but work and travel (and weather!) have got in the way of attending. But it’s going to be a lovely sunny day tomorrow, and I have the day off Sevilla Tapas Tours, so hey let’s do it. 🙂
You may recognize this as one of the many signs of spring in Sevilla, this one specifically heralding the arrival of Easter Week (Semana Santa). After an entire week of processions with thousands of dripping candles along the various routes, you can imagine that things do get quite slippery. This also means that for weeks after Easter Sunday both shoes and car tires tend to squeak as they accumulate wax, until both heat and daily traffic gets rid of most of the waxy residue.
This year I saw two things I had never seen before. One was the use of sawdust on some of the main procession routes, which at first only seemed be making matters worse. But then…
… a couple of nights later I came across this curious machine on my way home from a tapas tour. The usual cleaners were there hosing down the streets with water, along with this thing that basically was pummelling the heckity out of the wax. I haven’t been back yet to check out the results. Will let you know.
So back when I met Alexis last February she told me about this new breakfast (and merienda) place next door to one of her gorgeous AirBnB apartments… and that they made their own poppyseed bagels (!!!). Well, I haven’t had bagels since I lived in Toronto, and it is the ONE THING I tell people I miss from Canada (well, when they ask me).
Anyhow, I did stop by Otto one afternoon in February just to check it out, but it wasn’t until today that I finally got over there for brekkie. And it was fabulous. Unfortunately – or very wisely – Otto owners Isidro & Serena don’t sell the bagels to takeaway. I can’t say they are the same as my favourite wood-oven baked bagels in TO, but it tasted damn fine this morning.
They also do traditional tostadas here, with a lovely selection of extra virgin olive oils, that were recommended by Alexis. You can also get pancakes, yoghurt with granola, and several other tasty breakfast options. I will be back…
Alternative title… When Sevilla Tapas Tour Guests Become Friends.
Last night I met up with Mehrunnisa & Omair from London, who had come my way via mutual Twitter and Instagram pals. They had actually arrived in Sevilla couple of days previously but, due to Semana Santa and other obligations, it was only possible to take them out on their penultimate night in town for a flamenco & tapas tour. But we made the most of it!
I knew things were off to a great start when conversation started flowing fast and furious even before we got to the flamenco venue. And by the time we got into the sherry and tapas after the show it was clear that we were kindred spirits. It was a great night out and the time passed far too quickly, but I will look forward to getting together with M & O again on my next London Getaway – I have been promised a Pakistani food tour (yay!).
Every year there is a competition for the official posters for Semana Santa and the Fiestas de Primavera. This year’s winner for the latter is Nuria Barrera. Called La Alma de Sevilla (Soul of Sevilla) it is a still life full of Sevillano symbolism.
Hanging in the wardrobe are three nazareno tunics from the Macarena, Los Negritos and Amargura brotherhoods, alongside two flamenco dresses by local designer Lina. On the wardrobe shelf above there is a wide-brimmed straw hat trimmed with a Triana green ribbon, plus silk shawls and gypsy accessories. Below we can see a drum from the Maestro Tejera band and some clothes worn by costaleros. Hanging on the left-hand door is a 2013 Easter poster (by the same author) of the Immaculate Conception of Murillo, a picture of El Cachorro and a sticker from the 1992 Expo’92. On the right door of the wardrobe there is a mirror with the Giralda being reflected through an open balcony.
Other details include a pot of red carnations and rosemary, corresponding nazareno footwear under each tunic, the traditional striped cushion used at the bullring, polka-dot flamenco shoes and an enea (wicker) chair with a capirote and hood from the Macarena hermandad. Classic Sevillano floor tiling completes the scene. Seriously, this is The Very Best Poster I have ever seen for the fiestas and I seriously want one.
Meanwhile, my good friend Ania Marchlik came across this bit of wonderfulness. Just around the corner from the San Juan de la Palma church, in calle Viriato, a lovely gentleman has recreated this poster in his patio and has left the doors open so people can admire his handiwork. I found the house yesterday and the man was standing in the doorway with Semana Santa music coming from inside the house, and he was inviting people to go in and have a look. Here you can see them together…
My absolutely favourite days of Semana Santa are Thursday and Friday when the women dressed in black with their magnificent lace mantillas come out in force. They are everywhere, and they are wonderful. Ostensibly they are mourning the recent death of Jesus Christ, but they are also totally into looking fabulous. I see no issue with this, though I have a preference for the more mature women who are into looking classy while they mourn (younger women doing “sexy mourning” with short tight dresses and stiletto heels leave me cold).
mantilla photo op next to my old house (on the left)
mantillas & cervecitas
Semana Santa kind of snuck up on me this year, most likely because I was away in London the week before. And by the time I got back – blam! – it was already starting to happen. I still get caught out by the “pre-Semana Santa” processions, so that means getting around town madness begins even earlier.
This year I didn’t actually make any plans to see a particular procession, other than the Borriquita on Palm Sunday. The rest of the time I was just out and about in the afternoon (usually before or after a tapas tour) and them – blam! – came across a procession. So I didn’t see any processions at night this time around.
Maybe next year I won’t do any tapas tours during Semana Santa so I can take the week to get back into it (because it does take energy and planning). I do love it, for reasons I can’t explain. I just do.
La Borriquita nazarenos returning to Salvador Church
La Borriquita paso depicts Christ entering Jerusalem on a donkey
Nuestra Señora de los Dolores, El Cerro procession
handing out estampitas during the San Bernardo procession
El Cristo de la Salud, San Bernardo procession
Jesús de la Paz, Carmen Doloroso procession
I kind of hit the ground running after getting back from my London Getaway. I had already planned to get together with Jane & John and Sue & Monty, but before those meet ups took place I had the pleasure of being introduced (via email by Annie Manson) to Fran & Kaz Kuzui. Fran & Kaz were travelling around Andalucía, doing some research on Japanese influence on southern Spanish cuisine, and would also be spending a couple of days in Sevilla, so we arranged to meet the evening after I got home from London. They had also tried to meet up with my friend Tomoko in Jerez, but there had been an email glitch, and so I invited Tomoko to come and stay over so we could all go out together.
It was a fabulous evening. Fran is a native New Yorker who now lives in Tokyo with her husband Kaz. Aside from being film producers and art lovers, they are both also food & wine lovers, and as usual Sevilla worked its magic on them. By the end of the evening we had all become fast friends and F & K were already talking about planning a return visit to Andalucía. Come back soon! xx