Travel Safety Tips: Is Seville Safe?

Is Seville safe for a single woman to visit alone? 

Is Seville safe for a single woman to visit alone?

Clients asked me this question more than once, and in my opinion, the answer is yes. Of all the cities I visited in my life, I can say that Seville is the only one of them where I have not felt uncomfortable walking around by myself. As a young woman, I am perfectly comfortable walking around the city by myself both day and night.  The center of the city has a very convivial atmosphere. The days are long and nights even longer, people are out on the streets every hour of the day, so you’re never completely alone anywhere in the center.  However, you still have to be smart. I have some tips that should help if you’re traveling solo to Seville, or really anywhere in the world. 

Travel Safety Tips

  1. Use your common sense. Don’t wander off into lonely dark alleys at 2AM, don’t leave your bags open or unattended and don’t carry your wallet or phone around in your back pocket. Basically, don’t draw unwanted attention towards yourself. 
  2. Try to not look like a tourist. Walking around with a camera around your neck, a map in your hands and an I Love Sevilla T-shirt will just make you an easy target for people trying to take advantage of tourists.
  3. Stay aware of your surroundings. It’s good to know where you are, so you won’t accidentally wander off into the bad part of town. When out on the streets, I’d recommend carrying your bag in front of you at all times, and move away if someone gets up into your personal space a bit too much. I once had my phone stolen out of my bag because I was not aware of what was happening around me. While looking at some clothes in a shop, a woman was standing right next to me, looking at the same rack of clothes. She was standing quite close to me, so close that it made me feel uncomfortable. My first thought was that this was probably because she wanted to look at the same blouse I was looking at. So I moved out of her way, but every time I moved away she moved with me. This should have made some alarm bells go off in my mind, but unaware as I was, I didn’t really think that she would be trying to steal something from me. I just walked away after I got too uncomfortable, and 5 minutes later when I went to the cash register, I opened my bag to grab my wallet and realized that my phone was gone. When I tried to call it it was already turned off, and nowhere to be found. Ever since that day, I always carry my bag in front of me and immediately grab it when someone gets into my personal space. 
  4. Don’t be alone all the time. This might be difficult as a solo traveler because you don’t always have someone around you. Let other people (maybe your family at home) know where you are and what you’re doing. Whenever you feel uncomfortable, talk to the people in your surroundings and let them know that you’re traveling solo. Even though this might sound weird, it will often make the other person look out for you. Whenever I have a solo traveler on my tours (since I work as a tour guide in Seville), I always tell them what parts of town they should avoid, and try to give them helpful tips on where they can go and maybe meet other travelers or locals. So chat with local service people such as waiters or tour guides. I would also recommend going on a tour on one of your first days in your new destination. Not only will you learn about the place and get a lot of historical, cultural and culinary insights, you might also meet some other travelers you can meet up with later on. 
  5. Don’t be too friendly. If your gut tells you that a situation makes you feel uncomfortable, don’t be afraid to say no. Sometimes, if you’re too polite or shy, people will walk all over you and that way you might be forced into a situation you really didn’t want to be in. So don’t worry about being impolite, because if somebody doesn’t respect you, they are not worth your time. 

Have you ever traveled solo to another country? And do you have any advice for other solo travelers? 

Tapas in Triana: Casa Gago

There are so many amazing tapas bars and restaurants in Seville. Someone once told me there is one tapas bar for every five inhabitants of the city. Seville has around 700.000 inhabitants so you can imagine how many bars that will be. So many, that choosing a place to go for lunch or dinner might become an overwhelming task. That’s where I can help.

The Triana district in Seville, on the ‘other’ side of the river, is an amazing barrio that not enough people visit during their stay in the city. This district has so much to offer, from amazing restaurants, beautiful markets, and a rich and complex history. One of my favorite bars in Triana is one of my most recent discoveries, Casa Gago. My favorite typical Sevillian dish is Solomillo al Whisky, and I was told that Casa Gago makes a mean Solomillo. Of course, I had to go check it out.

Hidden between houses, in Calle Lucía de Jesús, you’ll find Casa Gago. A calm, cozy neighborhood bar that has been open since 2016. Even though it’s so young, it has already made quite the name for itself. It was my first time visiting and seen that I had heard so many good things about this place, I went in with high expectations. Safe to say, I was not disappointed.

Solomillo al Whisky in Casa GagoThe Solomillo al Whisky in this restaurant was exceptionally good. I find that many Spanish dishes do not look appetizing at all, but once you take a bite, there is an explosion of flavor in your mouth. This is what happened with this plate as well. As you can see in the photo above, it does not look that appealing, but the garlic, lemon and whisky flavor came together beautifully and I can definitely recommend Casa Gago if you want to try a good Solomillo al Whisky.

AfterlightImage (3)Another very successful dish we tried was Secreto Iberico. This is a special piece of meat, from the Spanish Black Iberian pig. This is also where the famous Spanish ham comes from. These pigs have a very special diet; they only live on acorns. Because of their diet, they have a lot of intramuscular fat, which is why their meat has such unique, rich flavor.
The Secreto is the part of meat between the shoulder and neck, and can only be found in the Black Iberian pig. People see this as the ‘best-kept secret’ of the Iberian pig, hence the name.
Casa Gago serves this delicious piece of meat with some mojo picón, a spicy sauce made of paprika, garlic, oil, salt, pepper, cumin, vinegar, and other herbs. Again, this dish looks quite bland, but I was pleasantly surprised. I had never tried this dish before, but upon trying it in Casa Gago I realized I missed out and I’ll be sure to order it more often in the future.

AfterlightImage (4)Last but not least, I tried the Adobo. This is a typical Sevillian dish, and perhaps one of the most popular. It is dogfish, marinated in a mixture of sherry vinegar, garlic, paprika and more. It has a very strong (and delicious) flavor and scent, which lures you into the bars. The adobo in Casa Gago is definitely not bad, in fact, it’s one of the better ones I have tried so far.

If you’re ever in Calle Tetuan, and you are wondering where the delicious adobo scent comes from, it’s Bodeguita Blanco Cerrillo. Their adobo is one of the best in the city, so if you’re planning on trying adobo, I’d recommend going there.

All in all, I was pleasantly surprised here. We were quite late when we sat down for lunch, as it was almost 16:00 o’clock, so we were the last to leave. The waiter was very friendly, however, and we didn’t feel rushed at all. He even offered us a chupito after we paid the bill. If I lived in Triana, this would probably be my go-to bar.

How Did I End Up Here?

“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
William Shakespeare

I celebrated my 21st birthday a few months ago, I just graduated and  I have been living and working in Spain for almost a year now. Since this is my first blog on this website, I thought it best to introduce myself and explain how that happened.

The first time I went to Spain was in 1997 when I was exactly 8 months old. My grandparents moved to Spain just before I was born, and lived there for 4 years, but they moved back to The Netherlands after my little brother and cousins were born. I was their first grandchild, and when more followed, they decided that they wanted to be close to their family and Granada was not exactly right next door. I do not remember anything of my first time in Spain (obviously) and in the 18 years that followed, I never went back there. During summer breaks, my parents usually took us to France and we always traveled by car. France has good food, warm weather, and beautiful landscapes, so there was simply never a reason to drive even further south.

In 2016 I was studying Tourism at NHTV University in Breda (now known as Breda University). In June of that year, we went on a 6-day study trip to Granada and Seville. Our assignment was to prepare a 20-minute presentation on an important landmark in one of those two cities. First, we spent 3 days in the city of Granada. I absolutely loved this city. The narrow streets, the hills, the old white buildings, and the rich history are things that I find really appealing and interesting. Before this trip, I always said that I could never live in a city. I am from a small town, and cities always seemed too busy and modern. However, my trip to Granada and Seville really changed my mind.

After these three days, we drove to Seville. It was a 3-hour bus ride, and on this ride, I only saw maybe three small towns in the middle of endless olive tree fields and mountains. It was a breathtaking scenery until we arrived in Seville. The first thing I saw upon driving into the city was a huge amusement park and a very modern-looking bridge. I remember thinking: ‘this city is way too big and modern for me, I’m probably going to hate it’. Little did I know, that my whole life was about to change.

Upon arriving at our hostel, I had only seen the modern outskirts of the city. After settling into our rooms, we were given some free time to explore the center of the city. Walking towards the center, I was still thinking the same thing. ‘This looks more or less like Granada, but slightly bigger. Not a fan.’ And then I walked out of the big shopping street onto Plaza Nueva, and the sight took my breath away. When I came back to my room that evening, I remember calling my mom and telling her: “I love this city! Yes, I know I said I could never see myself living in a city, but you know what? This one might actually change my mind.” And it absolutely did.

I traveled to Seville again later that summer, this time with a friend, and we stayed there for 5 whole days. On the final day of our trip there, I met a handsome Spaniard who, later that year, would become my boyfriend. (It’s a long story, which I will tell you later in another blog post.) After doing the long distance thing for a little over a year, I moved to Seville to start an internship at a bike tour company. Because I was still a student, and my boyfriend did not have a job yet and was still living with his parents, I moved in with my Spanish in-laws. Five months after moving there, I finished my internship – and my degree – and decided to stay in Seville, working full-time at the same company.

That’s the story of how I ended up in Seville in a nutshell. My life has completely flipped upside down since I moved here, and I’m still adjusting to the cultural differences, but I do not regret anything. Did you move to another country and have any difficulties adjusting? I would love to hear about your experiences.

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Love,

Robin.