Six Must-Dos in Seville: 1) Smell Horseshit Mixed with Car Exhaust

I don’t usually write these “must-do!” travel pieces, mostly because they lack narrative and I’m all about the story, or even just rambling, but our week in Seville fits the format. So here we go. 
1) Smell Horse Shit Mixed with Car Exhaust 
Upon arrival to Seville, Soleil and I took a horse and carriage ride around the city to orient ourselves and get excited about the week to come. It was ridiculously overpriced (45 euros!) but a worthy “special time” with my girl. 
Added bonus, something about the smell of horse shit mixed with car exhaust makes a person feel whole again; it’s like a meeting of desires between the wilds and the city, our agricultural past and our urban present, the earth and imagination, the here and now and the ever after — well, at least that’s what happens in the olfactory system.
Plus Soleil is at that age where she really wants a horse. To give you an idea of how much, as soon as we arrive to a new AirBnb, this happens:
Meet Peach, her white stallion.

(This means mopping would be a form of animal cruelty, right? That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it 😉  )

So, basically, the real life horsey ride had to happen for her. A kid can only dress up a broom or mop or tree stump for so long. 

She started here in the backseat with me.

But two minutes later she moved to the front seat….

and then up to the reigns. Snap! Gangsta baby. 

Even at 4 yrs old, Soleil was momentarily arrested by the beauty of Plaza Espana. Looking at the below picture, I think of what Cheryl Strayed’s mother tells her in the book Wild: “There’s always a sunrise and always a sunset and it’s up to you to choose to be there for it….Put yourself in the way of beauty.” 

When this world-schooling adventure comes to a close someday, I want that to be Sol’s takeaway. I want her to continue to put herself in the way of the world’s beauty, to seek it out and soak it up, so that her own beauty feels inspired to leap out and join it. 

2) Resist urge to get naked in the Alcazar

We’ve been to quite a few castles, most look like stone fortresses, cold and austere, but this one was lush and palatial. It was the only one we’ve enjoyed enough to spend hours exploring the grounds. 

The Alcazar started as a building (use unknown) in the first century and then was developed into a palace from the tenth to twelfth centuries by Moorish Muslim kings (it’s THE gem of mudéjar style architecture) and, later, was used by the Spanish Crown. Today it is still the official Seville residence of the King and royal family. 

For us, the best part was wandering the seven hectares of gardens filled with rose bushes, birds, orange groves, ponds, baths, and fountains. They make you want to strip down and get lost in the smell and sound of the place. 

Enter here….to the outside courtyard and then into…

the Courtyard of the Maidens where stunning architecture and tile work evoke thoughts of harems, hookahs and Arabian Nights. 

Soleil took the next few photos of Ari and me. 

Tree seemed to like this one. Helloooo, Daddy!

The palace easily lends itself to imagination. I’m fairly certain Soleil is lost in a revery about her magic “reino” (kingdom) in the picture below. I used to not like the whole pink princess thing, but now I’ve found it to be an interesting gateway into conversations about leadership, social justice, and environmental stewardship. 

Plus, she prefers her homemade crowns to anything she’s ever seen in a store or at a playground. She rarely leaves home without one of these paper creations atop her head. 

Miserable in paradise. I’m guessing jet lag was the culprit. 

Beauty surrounds us, but usually we need to be walking in a garden to know it.  –Rumi 

Witness the duality of mankind: Beauty vs Stupidity. Art vs Narcissism. Creation vs Destruction. 

3) Watch Flamenco show and reenact it later (to the dismay of neighbors) 

You have to see flamenco in Seville. Obviously. So we went to the Centro Cultural Flamenco at Casa de la Memoria because they offer the real deal at a fair price at a reasonable hour.  If you’re tougher than us, you can try to catch a peña or a show at a bar (avoid large dinner shows), but those don’t usually start until after midnight — way past our bedtime.

Still, as much as I really enjoyed the music and performance, I was a bit confused by the vibe. It felt like the dancers were pissed-off lovers stomping and clapping at each other. If there’s anything sexy going on, it’s more the hope of hot ‘n’ angry makeup sex after a particularly nasty fight.

4) Walk the Centro to the Juderia without your GPS. Get lost in the narrow passageways and celebrate all the different ways people present themselves to connect in the world. 

5) Tour the biggest Gothic Cathedral in the world — as fast as you can. 

It was beautiful but, honestly, Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona ruined all future cathedrals for me. Nothing will ever compare. Nothing. 

The remains of Christopher Columbus. Bastard. 

6) Eat Tapas and Drink Too Much with People You Love

Tree’s brother, Adam, met up with us in Seville, which basically meant we had an excuse to be even more gluttonous than usual. Tree and I may live a downsized lifestyle, materially speaking, but we live a seriously super-sized life experience. But what makes a better memory, sharing a show on Netflix or sharing risotto y carrilleras and a bottle of Ribera in sexy Seville, Spain? 

Our two favorites restaurants were Mama Bistro and La Bartola. OH MY GOD. My mouth is watering just remembering….

A close third was Maccheroni, an Italian restaurant with homemade pasta too die for. 

Unfortunately, I suck at taking food pictures. But obviously the food was delicious. We licked the plates clean. 

Mama Bistro also boasts the best Gin and Tonic Tree, Adam, or I have ever had.  And between the three of us, we’ve probably sampled thousands of GTs around the world. We liked it and the food so much that we went back again a second time. 

So there you have it. Six must-dos in Seville. But, really, you don’t need a list. You just need to remember to put yourself in the way of beauty. It’s easy to do in Seville. 


For you longtime blog followers, perhaps you noticed that Ari is here! She flew in from Argentina and is traveling with us from Seville to Madrid, San Sebastian, and France. She brought with her Tiki, her two-fingered playmate that’s been Soleil’s buddy since she was less than a year old. 


At some point during our Seville week, Soleil complained of mouth pain and had a fever for about 24 hrs — hence the long face and cold towel crown wrapped around her head. I think her back molars might be coming in a little early? They’re bulging a bit but not cutting through yet. Have any of you parents had an experience like this? A couple of months ago the same thing happened (mouth pain with fever, no other symptom, lasted 24hrs). 



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  1. Omar Abukurah says:

    One of my favorite cities in the world

  2. Shawn McCaughey says:

    I lived in Sevilla for 8 years in the 80’s. It is a wonderful and magical city! My favourite!

  3. Guillermo says:

    para mi es unade las ciudades mas lindas de espanha

  4. Anneke Van Couvering says:

    I SO envy your life, Stevie. And your little girl is one lucky cookie.

  5. Sheila Withers Erickson says:

    my favorite spot in Spain. enjoy!

  6. Sarah Crofts says:

    Absolutely adored Sevilla, I would go back in a heartbeat even tho I had my wallet stolen and the seriously expensive new shorts for Tabitha zip broke within 48 hours but I couldn’t exchange them due to a) stolen wallet admin and b) semana santa. Your photos are amazing

  7. Teri Hogan says:

    I loved Seville too!

  8. Zel Harrison says:

    Stevie your pictures and commentary are amazing. Especially love the image of the artist. These guys are sooo happy in Spain. There are always smiles

  9. That’s it, I’m coming. I’m going to fly into Sevilla.

  10. Wonderful as always! “Put yourself in the way of beauty”–love it. Seville just moved up on my list. (My son had similar mouth pain as Soleil and slight fever with incoming molars, and he got them very early. Could be what’s happening, but keep an eye out for mouth infections–if she has a bad taste in her mouth or significant swelling, etc. with fever.)

  11. Melinda says:

    Loved our visit there!

  12. Jacob Lyles says:

    We were in Sevilla several years ago for Semana Santa (Easter for the gringos). It was the year that all the processions got rained out. We literally saw two of them, and those were the two that came out to do their lap.

    From the pictures I figured out what I was missing, it’s the oranges [with built-in anti-theft defences, wink]

    ¿comisteis la ensalada rociera?

  13. Lee Nelson says:

    Love that city. SO rich indeed!

  14. Jen Jordan says:

    I live that city! Well put, and great photos

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