Tim likes to travel. Follow his adventures as he explores the world.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Sevilla, Spain: La Fería 2015

Synopsis: Continuing on my quest to do all the biggest festivals in Spain, I couldn't miss the opportunity to go to Sevilla for La Fería de Abril, the annual fair that attracts millions of people to eat tapas, enjoy aperitifs, ride fair rides, and more than anything, bailar sevillanas - dance to the traditional music. Virginia and I are going with a two-time La Fería veteran, Javier, to enjoy in the festivities for the weekend. If you don't know what La Fería is, refer to my cheat sheet before proceeding.


TMax's La Feria cheat sheet 2015




Day 1: Virginia drives us to Zaragoza, as we prepare ourselves for La Fería by listening to traditional music from Sevilla. Get on the AVE (high-speed) train to Sevilla and we are there way quicker than when I drove to Sevilla. Taxi to Hotel Patio de la Cartuja (review) in Alameda. We already see lots of women wearing las gitanas.

Grab some food and try salmorejo (similar to gazpacho, and just as unpleasant) before heading to Plaza de España to take some photos and enjoy the scenery. Then, swing by the cathedral, but it is closed. So, Javier takes us to try vino naranja (white wine soaked in orange peels), which is pretty good and I use the world's smallest bathroom. We head back to the hotel and stop at a grocery store to buy food for the next couple of days.

Change and head out for dinner around 10pm. Three hours ago there was no one outside and now it's packed, even with kids. Eat dinner at a nearby joint and I have a delightful flamenquin (fried pork stuffed with cheese, jamon, green peppers, and cheese). After dinner, we cab it to the big party. The streets are blocked off so only taxis and pedestrians can get there.

It is packed and the fair grounds are enormous. We find a caseta but I'm not sure if it's public or private. In this caseta, people can smoke inside and can also rent hookahs. For my first aperitif I try vino fino and it is horrible! The music here is mostly reggaeton and rhumba, so after a bit of dancing we head to a caseta publica, where Javier and Virginia show off their moves with real sevillanas music. They try to teach me the steps, and I try to learn. We'll leave it at that. We leave around 2:30am and the line for the taxis is about 400 people long, but moves quickly. 

Thoughts: We booked our train and hotel about 4 days ago, so we were very fortunate to find decent rates. Amazing that the casetas have security guards at the entrances, public and private. I didn't see any instances where they had to exercise any force. Some casetas you can smoke inside, but in all of the official public ones, smokers have to go outside, so there are hundreds of people outside the tents. 

Most public casetas, seems there were maybe 10, are larger than the private ones, and have a larger amount of kids, teens, and tourists. Also, as you make your way from la portada toward the fair rides, the average age of the fair-goers drops significantly. Most casetas play sevillanas but some play Top 40 or have people doing covers of pop music. After the awful vino fino incident, we drank rebujito for the rest of the night. 



Nos vemos en la feria
A picture is worth... 5 words

Our hotel had very nice patios
Our hotel had very nice patios

Found my "hometown" at the Plaza de España
Found my "hometown" at the Plaza de España

Great people having a great trip
Having a great time

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"No correr por los pasillos del WC"


La portada de la feria de Sevilla
La portada de la feria de Sevilla

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Entering La Fería


video
They start learning young


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An official caseta publica


Day 2: Wake up and cook breakfast but the pan is so horrible it ruins the presentation of my omelet, but not the flavor. Then, head downstairs for a coffee.

Go into the center walking through the city a bit, and go inside the cathedral through a wedding party gate, since the line at the main entrance is so long, but we can't see much so we leave... and it's raining, albeit lightly. The Spanish are all hiding under trees from the peligroso drizzle. We brave it and go to Bodega Santa Cruz Las Columnas, where they tell you your bill, writing it in chalk on the counter. Head to a couple other bars for some drinks and tapas. I eat mojama (dried tuna) and it's delicious, pescaditos fritos (fried little blue fish) not bad, torta de camarones (fried shrimp cake, with really tiny whole shrimp, eyes, antennae, and all) a bit fishy, but also not bad, and of course, paella (rice with seafood) which is always good. 

A group of female Spanish tourists are having a bachelorette party and are dressed in faldas de baile (Spanish dancing skirts, but not the traditional el traje de flamenca) and other non-Spanish tourists are taking photos with them because they think the women are from Sevilla. Ignorance can be funny. After eating and walking around the city, and enjoying the lively atmosphere, we need a siesta! At 9pm we head back for round two of La Fería

The first caseta is mostly women dancing, so I'm much more keen to watch, but Virginia very kindly and patiently forces me to master the basics of the sevillanas dance. The dance floor is super small, so people are dancing in the aisles and walkways, where it is easy to be bumped and distracted. There are even people outside the caseta dancing (while smoking). We caseta hop to about fives different ones, dancing and sweating, before we head to the last one for my final dance; and it's clear I've improved. Call it a night at 2:30am.

Thoughts: We saw random people on horses throughout the city, and not just carriages, but like legit owners of horses, on them, going places. I notice tattoos, piercings, and provocative dresses in Sevillano women much more than the Navarran women. 

Gypsies selling lottery tickets in the street walk around yelling "lottery", except when they have the number 69, they yell that to get people's attention. Bachelor(ette) parties everywhere. I can actually hear, and barely understand, the Sevillano accent, though I couldn't in Zaragoza or Valencia.

Sevillanas: the dance, seems to be more for the women than men, as there are few men actually dancing, and even if the men were pros, the women led the dance. There were a lot of women dancing together, some men and women dancing together, and after remarking that I hadn't seen it, we saw one male-male pair dancing. Two types of people dancing: seasoned professionals, and six of us amateurs who came to La Fería and had the courage (natural or liquid) to get on the dance floor and not sit on the sidelines. There was even one woman with Down Syndrome that could have been on Dancing with the Stars.

Five hours of dancing, drinking rebujitos, and just having a great time. What a day!



The Spanish hiding from the rain under trees. This would be nice weather in Belgium.
The Spanish hiding from the rain under trees. This would be considered nice weather in Belgium.

So many delicacies to try and wash down with rebujito
So many delicacies to try and wash down with rebujito

If you show up at a girl's house on a horse, you already won
If you show up at a girl's house on a horse, you already won

They didn't know it, but they were having a great time dancing with me
They didn't know it, but they were having a great time dancing with me

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Dancing with everyone on my way out the door


Olé!
Olé!

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What the dance is supposed to look like


If you aren't dancing, you are probably clapping...
If you aren't dancing, you are probably clapping...

...or taking selfies with professionals in the background
...or taking selfies with professionals in the background


video
My final dance. Thanks to Virginia, I wasn't a total train wreck, but I still edited out most of my mistakes


Day 3: Wake up and make another breakfast before heading out. Shortly thereafter, it's raining. Duck into a Chinese store to grab 1€ ponchos, and that's exactly how much work they did against the heavy rain, 1€ worth. Walk around Trianna and have almuerzo before heading back to the hotel to grab our stuff and catch our train. 

Thoughts: Apparently chalking the bill on the counter is common all over Sevilla, and not just a few cool bars. I had this image in my head that Spain was a sunny country, and then they told me it was just Pamplona and the north that has bad weather, but it has rained on many of my trips to the south: Sevilla, Valencia, Madrid, and Mallorca.


Now it's raining for real
Now it's raining for real

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North of Spain, south of Spain, the rain just follows me


He reached toward America, so I reached back
He reached toward America, so I reached back

Afternoon snack with rebujito and our chalk bill
Afternoon snack with rebujito and our chalk bill


Final Thoughts: No puedo decirte con palabras, tienes que sentirlo. I had a great time and thanks to Javier and Virginia I wasn't lost and alone and just watching. I got to experience it. I got to participate. I got to be Sevillano for a couple nights. And it was awesome.





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Location: Seville, Sevilla, Spain

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