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Summering in Seville


While it’s chilly in much of Australia and summer warms Europe we remember Seville.

We leave London behind, cold and wet even though it is by the calendar, summer. Not unexpected so not disappointed. One capital that never disappoints.

For something completely different we are soon over the sunstruck yellow plains and upcrush of cranky mountains in Andalucia.

Touchdown Seville. The cab has to stop just short of our destination in a lane which we block as we unload and pay. No one behind us toots. The heat is fine. Just down on the right, I think he says, pointing to a pedestrian zone down a one way street.

Seville la casas de la juderia
Welcome through the venerable front door

A flourish of flags topping a bold red arch make sure we don’t miss it.

Las Casas de la Juderia Seville

Las Casas de la Juderia Seville
View of the bell tower from the bedroom

The hotel, modestly rated at 4 stars, is in Santa Cruz district, formerly the Jewish quarter (hence the name) and is composed of twenty-seven 15th century houses linked together to form the modern hotel. Modern? Not quite the right word.

Las Casas de la Juderia Seville
Got to love an hotel with an irregular floor plan

If your preference is for expanses of glass and chrome, thickly carpeted high-rise, this is not your home. Here you must learn the ins and outs of a delightful network of cobbled courtyards, chrome yellow walls, unexpected arches and fountains, cheerful pots of plants, and underground passages with Roman mosaics.

Las Casas de la Juderia Seville
One of the many interior courtyards

Each room is different, cleverly comfortable in a traditional way. Everything is there, all the stuff you expect for your bathing, pampering, TV and refreshments but also a view when you open your wooden shutters of a stone tower you could almost touch, whose bell sounds the hour sending a swirl of swallows into a blue sky. Not your modern sealed-windows city hotel.

But you have not come to town to stay indoors. You venture out into Seville’s lanes and alleys, twisting faster than you can turn the map the cheerful Javier at the desk has biroed for you. It’s like Venice with dry streets. Your instincts take you towards the Alcazar and Cathedral. Like millions before, you are in awe of what man could construct so long ago to honour his gods, impress his subjects and terrify his enemies. Monumental at first sight, memorable in its detail. Even tyrants had families and children.

Seville las teresas
A wealth of hanging jamon at Las Teresas Seville

Weaving back, you stop at Las Terrases of the hanging hams or the quietly hidden Bodequetta Fabiola for a glass of wine, a crisp beer and talk over each other with sentences beginning with “And what about the …”

Insert jaw-dropping memory here.

In the middle of the year it is still very warm late into the evening so you head for the rooftop pool.

Las Casas de la Juderia Seville
Rooftop pool perfect after a hot day sightseeing

Standing with an icy Cruzcampo, resting on a hot white wall, the sun dries the pool water on your skin as you pan over the jagged collage of chimneys, terracotta tiles, railings, turrets and towers held low by the huge dome of sky, the model for the vaults you have marvelled at today. These ancient structures are made human by spiky aerials and clothes lines, but you could easily take much, much more of it. You haven’t even been down to attack all the tapas at the Emporion restaurant downstairs. Or the glass of cava to start the day at tomorrow’s breakfast.

Las Casas de la Juderia Seville
Just a simple lunch by the pool

Why didn’t we book a few more nights?






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Ian MacTavish

Mr MacTavish is a celebrated writer and one of Australia's more respected Wine reviewers, appearing regularly in national magazines, in print and on line. So far, he has never been heard to say 'no' to a wee dram.

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