Ahhh, the times before Covid when it was okay to travel– we had no idea how lucky we were! As to this post… why now? Well, in organizing some photos I’ve realized that there are some adventures I didn’t write down yet, and I want to share them, so here we are.
In February, Tristan and I met up in Madrid, Spain. It managed to be a relatively cheap set of flights and after months of rain and snow, shorts weather in Andalusia sounded perfect. We landed at the same time, reuniting in the airport with big hugs and pinching each other to make sure we were really there. It had been 2.5 months since we’d seen each other… the longest of our relationship (well, until now).
It took a moment to figure out the metro system and we were a bit hungry but that gave us a good goal – get some food and get to the AirBnB. We did just that and wandered around Madrid without any worries about sightseeing or tourist spots. This was a day we scheduled in to make sure we would be able to meet up without any flight issues, and everything went smoothly so it ended up being a day to spend time with each other.
The next morning, a high speed train took us to Sevilla, where we would stop for the next few days. We didn’t know exactly how our train pass and reservations would work but we were quick to learn… after nearly not getting a train ticket for the day. Our buddy at the counter helped us out though and we were happily sitting in lounging seats in no time.
So Sevilla! What a gorgeous city! We picked out a word that we thought best described it: mercantile. It felt like a city that trade had happened in, a city of lively flamenco dancing, rambunctious counters of tapas and beautiful arenas. Buildings were painted in rich autumnal colours of oranges and yellows and the food was delicious and sort of… home-y.
We did a free walking tour of the city that taught us about the trading industry, and we walked through the famous tobacco factory that the opera ‘Carmen’ is based off of. Tristan also received news that he was accepted to Texas A&M for a PhD programme so of course we had some wine on a rooftop to celebrate!
We spent plenty of time bouncing from tapas place to tapas place but we were quick to find our favorite (the oldest in town) El Rinconcillo. Truly, you had to know Spanish to order – there was only one guy who spoke english and he didn’t work every night (we went every night which is how we came to know this little fun fact). You ordered your food and after it was brought to you, a man in his late 40s (at the youngest) would take a piece of chalk from his pocket and add to your ‘tab’, in front of you, on the counter. After you finished eating and had paid, the server would wipe away the tab for the next people to wander in. 6pm was the right time if you wanted a little bite to eat before dinner, 8pm was really only a good time for a light drink, but 10pm was the liveliest time and you’d have to push through a crowd of spaniards to get by the bar before having to grab a servers attention and hope that your fellow mates at the bar would move over enough that you could squeeze in for a spot.
We took a tour of the city, wandered around the giant cathedral (biggest in Spain!!), admired the beautiful tomb of Christopher Columbus, climbed a tower and walked over to a more local part of the city called Triana in hopes of finding some accidental flamenco dancing. We were starting to give up hope but Tristan’s bladder decided to make a call for us. We didn’t want to walk into a bar, use the WC and not actually buy anything so he went and I ordered some drinks. She mentioned something about whether or not we were here for Flamenco and we said yes, but I didn’t know what she meant by that. We sat down and within a few minutes, a man started to strum his guitar in the corner and sing some traditional Flamenco songs. What luck! My dad had told me about a time that he and his friend went to Sevilla and instead of signing up for an expensive and touristy Flamenco show, they wandered into a place instead and it happened organically. We were hoping for the same thing.
Soon enough two young people who were dressed up for the evening started dancing on the makeshift dance floor and it was so fun to be a part of the atmosphere. A crowd had gathered and we ordered another round. The bartender asked me if I knew how to dance and I told her no – thankfully, she believed me at my word. I sat down, looked back to the dance floor and who was walking out on it? The bartender herself! We watched, clapped, cheered and enjoyed our evening in Triana with the locals.
And where did we head for a late night snack?? El Rinconcillo of course.