If somebody from Seville ever invites you to La Bicicletería (or ‘The Bicycle Shop’) after 2am, then don’t hesitate. Whilst this seductively smoky private bar in the backstreets of Santa Cruz may not actually sell bike bells or baskets, the cassette tape lampshade, the comfy chairs and the hazy, dreamlike ambience were certainly enough to draw me in.
Young backpackers tend to head for traditional hotspots like Amsterdam with its famous nightlife and Prague with its paved, picturesque streets. Being located in the southern-most autonomous community of Spain, Andalusia, Seville is undeniably out of the way for British travellers in Europe. However, it presents a wonderful alternative to the typical Interrail track, offering a range of quirky hangouts for coffees and conversations. I’ll never forget Bryan from Florida who taught us the intricacies of both the Arabic language and the Spanish marijuana laws as we sat in the shady, book-filled courtyard of El Viajero Solitario (The Solitary Traveller). A city with a café that’s purpose built for reading and meeting people surely deserves to be more widely renowned in the backpacking scene.
For those such as myself who want to see some sights as well as sip espressos, Seville is home to some incredible tourist attractions. Decked out in a hat and sunglasses and applying copious amounts of sun cream, I queued for almost an hour under the scorching midday sun to see the Alcázar, an ancient Moorish palace and world UNESCO site. I marvelled at the intricate hand-crafted tiles, the grandeur of the imposing stone walls and the crystal clear, fish-filled fountains contained within luxuriously green, labyrinthine gardens. The rich religious history of Andalusia was almost tangible amidst the mixture of Islamic and Christian architectural influence. As a student ticket only costs €2, it’s worth a visit no matter how long you’re there or how tight your budget is!
So as a bicycle stared down at me from the ceiling and the owner’s quaint, lyrical tunes played through his laptop in the background, I drank red wine with three Parisians and we talked about life, the universe and everything – as one does at three in the morning. I would definitely recommend putting in a few extra air miles and spending a tiny bit more of your student loan this summer in order to have an utterly unique, completely cultured backpacking experience – that’s every bit as wild as Amsterdam.