I was enchanted with Seville. It was a southern fairytale to me. I was buzzing in the warmth of the night we arrived there, my eyes probably shining out of fascination. I simply loved the clash of cultures I had seen in Granada and I was seeing again in Seville. Except that Seville was grandeur. It was luscious. It was demanding in a way Granada wasn’t. Demanding of your attention and of your feet, as I came to understand as we walked the city.
This was my third trip with the Erasmus group, and I’m not going to lie – by then, my savings for travelling in Spain were basically gone. I had a little pot saved for my last big trip in Spain (Barcelona) and I really needed to keep my spending to a minimum if I wanted to keep that pot. But when you travel to such touristic places, both food and drink gain a premium price. And I remember being quite embarrassed for not being able to keep up with my then peers when it came to this. They would go to the most good looking restaurant or tavern without needing to look at menus, searching for the prices. This led to me sitting multiple times with them without ordering, or simply eating a very small tapa that would cost me €5. I have a very clear image in my mind of sitting on a terrace in a tapas place, with a little piece of fried cod in front of me. That was going to be dinner.
At the time, I felt the difference in the country and social-economic background every single one of us had come from. Most of my peers seem to come from families wealthier than mine. They clearly didn’t care about costs. And most also came from countries where everything was typically more expensive in comparison to Spain. Even though Portugal is sitting next to it, the cost of living is totally different – at least at the time, I could not keep up with prices in Spain, especially in tourist destinations.
I learnt then a very valuable lesson. I realised my luck and privilege of, despite everything, having been granted the opportunity to be in Erasmus. The scholarship did not cover half the costs, but my parents were helping me pay rent and the university fees, and I had been able to save a lot of pocket money for the trips outside of Madrid. But I was on a mission. I wanted to break the chains that linked me to my humbler background at some point in my life. I was seeing how these people lived, without counting their cents. I wanted to one day be able to live like that. I know this sounds a little bit pathetic, I mean it’s a pretty selfish mission. At the time I was thinking of myself. But you see… now I realise it is never just about us. It is about everyone around us. Even now I often look at where I come from, think about my former friends and my family and how I managed to break so many of the limitations they seem to either impose on themselves or be imposed on. And I think about many others in so much fewer privileged situations who have been imposed these same restrictions. Do they really have a choice? Can they really free themselves of the limitations imposed by so many factors external to themselves?
I just would love everyone would have a real choice. Yet, equality is an illusion. And there I was, enjoying one of the most beautiful cities in the South of Europe. Small money in my pocket, but big dreams in my mind.
I digress. Seville. A beautiful, vibrant city, a warm and sweet dream. La Plaza Mayor. The most majestic plaza I have seen in my entire life, a scenario of multiple movies and series.
Moorish architecture, classic European façades, palm trees and mosaics. The smell of tortillas and paella on the streets. I did not have a chance to visit the Royal Alcazar this time, but I did on my second time in Seville a few years ago, and it is definitely a must-visit. Simply wonderful. you can find that article here.