"It is impossible to resist its Andalusian charm, the flamenco, tapas, wine and sun. I love it! Maybe I’ll never return home."
Some people adore Barcelona, Madrid or even Valencia, but I believe they don’t have any idea about the real Spain. The most beautiful city in Spain, the very heart of it, and the best-kept secret for many tourists is definitely Seville! It is impossible to resist its Andalusian charm, the flamenco, tapas, wine and sun. I love it! Maybe I’ll never return home.
The city itself is simply gorgeous. When I first arrived here, I was surprised and impressed with the richness of its history and architecture as well as the vibrancy of the city and the openness and kindness of the people who live here.
Seville is known as one of the most religious cities in the whole of Spain and has many events that demonstrate this devotion. The most religious event celebrated in Seville is “La Semana Santa” (the “holy week”) which takes place a week before Easter and includes many religious celebrations and unforgettable processions.
However, I must say that for me, the most interesting event in Seville happens approximately three weeks later: “La Feria”.
This event is actually just a fair. But what kind of a fair! I have never seen anything like it before. It lasts for one week, and most of the locals take the entire week off so that they can participate and spend time with their family and friends. You can probably surmise that this means the whole of Seville is there! Everybody is on their feet, talking, dancing, drinking and eating. This goes on for seven days straight and lasts all day and night.
For me, it all looked like one wonderful journey through time and space. At the entrance, I was impressed right away with the gate that gets specially designed and constructed each year. Once you pass the entrance, you find yourself in the middle of colourful stands of all different sizes and colours, where the music never stops playing, and everybody is dancing “las sevillanas”, the typical dance that originated from Flamenco and is very characteristic for Seville and this fair.
The streets between the stands are full with carriages, horses, and people dressed in their traditional clothes – men are mainly dressed in suits and women wear colourful dresses and flowers in their hair.
The gate at the entrance and the atmosphere would have most likely been the only things I would have experienced if I hadn’t attended with my friend Christina, a Spanish girl with her own stand. This is unique to Seville’s fair, as most fairs in other Spanish cities (particularly in the south) have stands open to anyone. Here, there are only a few large stands open to the public while the rest of them are private ones that you can only visit if you get an invitation from the owner. I realised fairly quickly that this is quite difficult if you are not from Seville, but somehow I made it!
It was here where I first tried the typical drink of the fair called “Rebujito”: a special mixture of white wine and a soft drink with lots of ice – it will refresh you and make you tipsy at the same time! Apart from that, I also got a chance to try different Spanish dishes. My favourite ones were the mussels and prawns. Delicious!
To make the experience complete, Christina borrowed me one of her old traditional flamenco dresses, which she doesn’t wear anymore because it’s a few years old and sleeveless, and totally “out of fashion” this season. Apparently, there is an entire fashion industry for these types of dresses which can cost up to a few thousand Euros! After putting on the dress, Christiana braided my hair and fixed a flower atop my head.
Once we arrived at the fair, and every time I met some of her friends, she introduced me with: “Ivana -Señorita sevillana de Belgrado”, which means “Ivana, Sevillian lady from Belgrade”. Together with my dress, my hairstyle and my medium knowledge of the Spanish language, I felt more and more confused with every new person I met, but at the same time, the whole experience made for some incredible stories and inside jokes.
In between the stands, Sevillan women were dancing the typical dance, “Las sevillanas”.
On the very first day, we arrived at the fair at 2 pm and didn’t get back home until around 6 am the next morning. And that was only the first day! Within the next few days, I got to visit some other stands, try more of the typical Spanish food, learn to dance the first steps of the “las sevillanas”, ride on a carriage and carousel (of course there was an amusement park at the fair!), meet many of Christina’s friends and family, practice Spanish, and enjoy one of the best events in Europe.
This trip was just one wonderful, unforgettable experience and I hope I will get the chance to do it again someday!
Author - Ivana Stojadinovic
Ivana Stojadinovic is from Belgrade, Serbia. Born and raised in a small country in the Balkans with a big dream to see the world, she has loved to travel for as long as she can remember.
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