Sporgal #2: Sevilla and the quest for paella
When it comes to packing, my attitude is along the lines of: you never know what you might need. Which is why I ended up lugging a huge 20kg* backpack around Sporgal in the baking sun. On the other hand, there was my friend prancing around with her normal-sized rucksack, happy and carefree. You’d think I’d have learned my lesson from our last trip to Belgium. Never. Again.
In the early morning, we made our way to the bus station (I, carrying said backpack on my poor, achey shoulders) ready to move on to the next city: Sevilla. I said goodbye to Granada with a tear in my eye and an ache in my heart for all the shiny streets and ice cream gone uneaten – but my belly was already gurgling; no time for sentimentality, delicious food awaited us!
We got on our bus and rolled through two hours of peaceful Spanish countryside. Travelling through Andalusia by bus is very affordable – about 15 euros with student discount. We weren’t even asked for student ID so it’s worth trying your luck if you look young enough. I guess it also helped that we looked poor and scruffy too. It was such a comfortable bus: air-con, reclining seats, plenty of leg room, even a small TV screen showing Thor… after the mad dash to the station with my heavy backpack, it was just wonderful.
We were very keen on trying paella. I mean, real Spanish paella in a Spanish restaurant in Spain. I had imagined myself sitting in a local family-run restaurant with a beautiful dish of steaming paella set in front of me; paella cooked that very morning using the freshest of fish and local ingredients, following a secret family recipe passed down countless generations. That was how it should have been. And could have been – had we been in Valencia or actually on the coast.
According to my carefully prepared research (5 minute google search: “authentic paella Sevilla”) we should have avoided the following: no mixed meat and fish paella (not authentic!), no paella in the evening (means it’s been cooked in the morning and reheated for you on the spot), and absolutely no chain restaurants (paella from frozen). I went against my basic instincts and broke those rules – such was our determination to eat the stuff.
In the end, we got exactly what we paid for: 11 euros for a large platter of mixed seafood and chicken paella. Lovingly made in a commercial kitchen following precise, top-secret, lab-tested formulas; defrosted and cooked especially for us – two ignorant and cheapskate tourists. I can’t complain; I’m no paella expert, and in all honesty it was good, filling food.
The bar that we found in the evening more than made up for it though. Las Golondrinas was everything the previous restaurant was not: modern, cosy and intimate; attracting a local, hip crowd. It had a really nice, welcoming vibe. The tapas menu was spectacularly cheap for what it was, with a good range to choose from: stewed meat, soup, seafood… It was also very busy. The owner was there too; helping out, being charming and friendly. And so we had our second dinner. We ordered as much as we could and then some. My favourite would have to be the razor clams, or… maybe the squid, or perhaps the pork cheek stew. I don’t know, it was just all so good!
We spent the next morning having a slow, lazy breakfast/brunch sitting outside a pretty café with a tantalising selection of pastries.
One thing about Spain (and by extension Portugal) is that you have to know how to order your coffee. Trying to order café frio (my attempt at ice coffee) resulted in a confused looking waitress and a hot coffee with a small glass of ice. It’s like they don’t know what an iced coffee is. Or just that my Spanish is too terrible for words. The latter, most likely.
*In hindsight, perhaps it was slightly closer to 10kg, ahem.