With only a few hours until midnight on la Nochevieja, as New Year’s Eve is called in Spain, you’d think it would be easy to find a suitable restaurant in the packed alleyways around Seville Cathedral, but it wasn’t. Even when we found one with an available table, we were usually disappointed to discover once again that they were operating on a menú fin (set menu) basis at a cool €60 per person. Or else it was too bar-like. Or too smoky. Or loud. Or not Minecrafty enough for the kids, I don’t know. We pressed on. We tried down here, we tried down there. No luck.
In La Casa Del Flamenco, a fifteenth century house in the narrow streets of the Santa Cruz barrio, we’d just seen a great one-hour flamenco show with a bunch of French and German tourists (“Bof! Les Français partout!” I heard a woman behind me complain), that bemused the kids but hopefully didn’t bore them too much. A very touristy hour’s work, but sure what else are you going to do on a three-day visit here?
Back in the atmospheric and pleasantly crowded laneways of Santa Cruz and the Jewish quarter, we ambled in a leisurely fashion, albeit with a growing feeling that tonight, of all nights, there was no way we were just going to find somewhere cheap, and with a kids’ menu. Nothing for it, then, but to enjoy the Cathedral and its surrounds, and of course marvel like everyone else at the towering Giralda.
And the orange trees, ¡por Dios! They lined streets big and small, avenidas and callejons, outside bodegarias and restaurantes, with their fallen fruit, split in the wet gutters alongside the large maple-like leaves all green, red, and brown that were still falling prettily at New Year’s. I found an orange that wasn’t broken and cleaned it in the Cathedral fountain to take home. “I think they’re bitter. That’s why people don’t pick them off the trees.”, Tina said.
On our way back to Triana, the left-bank quarter we’re staying in, and by now running on empty, we found our oasis in the desert, a bar called El Gran Coliseo down near the iconic Torre del Oro that served raciones, the big brother of tapas, of jamón iberico and taquitos de bacalhao*, and we were once again glad we’d come to Sevilla. The sweet cigarette smoke of the fumadores drifted in off the avenida; I got a cone of chestnuts from a filthy-fingered vendedor; and crossing our bridge to get the Triana we bought a coffee from the churros quiosco for the guy on the bridge, before finding our place in the warren of streets in the drizzle without getting lost.
For the first time in about five years, Tina and I stayed up till midnight together. The kids made it till about half eleven before crashing, while we watched Spanish stand-up comedy on TV in our little airbnb flat, drinking cava. If you thought Spanish people talk fast, you haven’t seen their stand-up comedians. The fireworks, when they came, sounded like they were right outside the apartment building, but in reality they were on the plazuera, the tiny square at the church not one hundred yards away. Seville, New Year’s Eve – not bad going. Tina was right about my orange though. I should have left it where I found it, on the side of the street, outside a cervezeria; a little dab of colour on the picture of the city.
* Cod fritters. Sounds better in Spanish, doesn’t it?