Where to go for your mini moon in November

November in London could be rainy and dreary so Seville was a quick and sunny getaway, perfect as our first “mini moon” trip. It did not require significant planning either as the city was very walkable. We more of less followed this 3-day itinerary from Tripadvisor and adapted it as we like.

Seville central

The highlights of Seville were definitely:

Biking tour with See by Bike – We did both a ‘free’ walking tour and biking tour but we much preferred the biking tour, partly because we couldn’t fully understand our guide’s heavily accented English on the walking tour. We lucked out with a private biking tour as we were the only people joining the English tour. Our friendly guide took us around the city and we saw many of the landmarks. It was a good way to get oriented with the city and later revisit the places that we like to spend more time at. Bike tour was reasonable at €50 for two of us.

Real Alcazar – This must-see attraction lived up to its name. It was a very impressive architecture which reminded us of the ones in Marrakech, e.g. Bahia Palace, Ben Youssef Madrasa. Besides the architecture, our favourite part was the orange trees in the courtyard which made for excellent photo opportunities.

General admission is €11.50 per person but we managed to book ahead for Monday 4pm tickets that allowed us to enter at €1 per person. The latest update from the official website seems to have an even better deal: Monday from 18:00 to 19:00. from April to September, and from 16:00 to 17:00 from October to March: Free. Whatever you go for, our main advice is to book ahead because there were long queues for tickets when we were there.

Barrio Santa Cruz – Located near Real Alcazar, this is the city’s Jewish quarter filled with colourful houses and lively plazas which again, made for excellent photo opportunities.

Parque de Maria Luisa – We came upon this park via the bike tour. While the grass wasn’t maintained like a Royal Park in London, there was the most gorgeous architecture that was picture perfect, i.e. the architecture reflected symmetrically in the water set in front of it. We took a break at the cafe in the park and had some tortilla and jamon. We enjoyed it so much that we went back again the next day! Highly recommended.

Parque de Maria Luisa

Parque de Maria Luisa

Plaza de Espana – The postcard shot of Plaza de Espana was probably one of the things that put Seville on our list of ‘must visit’ cities. We loved the mosaics in the tiled walls and benches. Each alcove has its own unique mosaics and represents a province in Spain. Plaza de Espana is located inside Parque de Maria Luisa so you can head there on the same day.

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We tried to take the postcard shot, still a long way off!

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One of the many alcoves along the half circle.

Flamenco show – We watched a traditional flamenco show at the Museo del baile flamenco. We are probably not the best people to be able to appreciate it but the intricate costumes and the super fast tempo to which the dancers danced were highly impressive. Best to arrive early if you want front row seats as there was no allocated seating with tickets.

Metropol Parasol – This is a wooden structure that looks like a giant mushroom. Makes for some beautiful photography especially at dusk. Interesting fact: this structure was built at a cost of €100 million. I am guessing it will take them forever to break even as it costed a few euros to ride the elevator to the top.

Metropol Parasol

Delicious food – There’s no shortage of food options when in Seville or Spain in general. Among all the tortilla, fried fish and pulpo we ate, our favourite restaurant of all was ConTenedor, a ‘slow food’ restaurant which uses organic produce sourced from the Andalusia region. We had the most tasty rice dish with the most succulent prawn ever. And that was all I remember from this meal. We were lucky to score a table for lunch when we walked in.

ConTendor Seville

This was probably the best prawn we’ve ever had.

Wet shoes

It was worth trekking all the way in the rain and getting our shoes wet just to eat the rice with prawn dish.

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Rambles in La Rambla – Barcelona

Barcelona is a vibrant city with a great atmosphere and beautiful architecture. Our original plans were to participate in the half marathon but, as a result of a few injuries, we decided to drop the clima-cool and spend more money time exploring this vast and historic city. Here are some of our tips:

1. Ambrosia Spa, Passatge de Domingo, 9, 08007
Situated just off the busy Passeig de Gracia, this is a fantastic little place for a quiet and relaxing retreat. Here, you can get yourself a massage, immerse in the tranquil music and enjoy copious amounts of tea/cava. I should probably mention that this happened to be an excellent Valentine’s gift!

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2. 13 de Margarit, Carrer De Margarit 13, 08004
We found ourselves rushing (and taking a taxi) to reach this restaurant for our intended 8pm booking. Thinking that we might lose our table at 8:15, on arrival, we realised that we were the only ones there (and felt the Spanish concept of eating dinner at 8pm+ had not quite caught on yet!). Freshness aside, we enjoyed the many Galician dishes at this little taperia.

Pulpo with paprika

3. La Pedrera
Constructed by Spanish architect, Gaudi, it is an innovative and modernist house full of intricate shapes and sculptures. It is well worth paying the entrance fee to visit the roof and the interiors of the house itself, which are quite impressive.

The most complicated railing design ever!?

Loved the contrast between the sandy walls and the blue sky

4. La Rambla and Port Vell
La Rambla bustles with life and is full of people and street sellers. During the night, we encountered fire breathing performers and devil themed parades. Safe to say it was a little frightening!

In Port Vell, we enjoyed relaxing by the seafront, watching people pass by and chomping on some sweet confectionary.

With popular attractions comes lots of tourists and with that comes opportunist pickpockets. La Rambla is notorious for pickpockets (we learnt that afterwards). I was unfortunate enough to be pickpocketed by one pretending to dish out flyers for flamenco and salsa. If someone appears a bit too eager, check your pockets!

5.  Bliss cafe, Plaça de Sant Just, 4B, 08002
If you’re in the Gothic quarter and love “tortilla”, check out Bliss cafe. It is very unassuming from the outside but serves amazing tomato salads (not like the sour and acidic tomatoes you get in the UK) and really gooey tortilla. To die for.

6. Bambarol
This place was by far the best tapas we had on the trip. The staff and the food was incredible. Try the fish suquet, arroz and quinoa salad!

Tomatoes on bread. Simple, yet so tasty

7. Parc Guell
This attraction requires a short metro journey to the north of the city centre but rewards you with fresh air and a panoramic view of barcelona among a hilltop. You can also find talented musicians entertaining park goers in the various tunnels and caves within the park.

  

8. Book tickets in advance!
If you don’t enjoy queuing or being turned down,  book in advance! Especially for La Pedrera, Parc Guell and Sagrada Familia.

Despite the unfortunate events at La Rambla, we had a blast in Barcelona. The hospitality and friendliness of the people was overwhelming, the city was full of life and the temperature was a cool 20 degrees in February.

Our favourite moment was on one evening where we were caught in a torrential downpour without an umbrella. We had to leg it back to the hotel and, no surprise, arrived completely drenched up to the skin. We dropped our bags, slumped onto the bed and tuned to the TV whilst letting our bodies recover. It just so happened that we tuned into some sweet Bossa Nova and at that point we felt in another world.

It is sometimes the unexpected events like these in a trip, which happen to be the most memorable and it is memories like these which make travelling worthwhile.

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Other mentions:

Coffee and fluffy croissant – 2 euros!

La boqueria and patatas bravas:

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Casa Batlo and Barcelona Cathedral:

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