Without a doubt, Seville was my favorite city we stayed in during our honeymoon in Spain. Angie and I bicker about this one quite a bit because her heart was left in Granada (read our Granada restaurant review to find out why), but something about Seville keeps dragging me back. It is hard to say what exactly about the city has the allure to me, other than its amazing architecture and tasty, cheap Spanish food.
Whether or not we settle this argument is one thing but one major piece of information is true, we both agree that our stay in Seville was one of the hottest during our time in Spain. Even though I have significant disdain for being excessively hot while traveling, as I found out while spending three weeks traveling the Middle East in August, something about this hot weather in Spain is inviting. It could be that it is a dry heat and not humid like we have at home, but there is something far more important at play that makes this weather bearable: the siesta.
Are Siestas Real?
You hear about siestas all the time; people taking breaks in the middle of the summer heat to go home and relax with family. We think it is a bit odd that people would go home on a siesta and then go back to work, but that is how the stories of life in Spain go. We are here today to let the truth out to the world and confirm that siestas are real. Not only do they exist, but in Seville it is a lifestyle that everyone participates in.
Almost like clockwork, at around 4 pm on our first day the entirety of Seville emptied out. We didn't see this in Madrid as the large city is continually moving at all hours. But in being a smaller city, Seville had a different feel from the start. Little did we know that when siesta time hit, our plans would change entirely. All the attractions close for visitors, restaurants in Spain stop serving food, and locked doors and gates cover nearly every business. Add in the fact that the temperature was near a scorching 100°F (38°C) and you'll have an uncomfortable scenario altogether with little to no relief in sight.
Embracing the Siesta Lifestyle
But what does a traveler do when every single business is closed and its as hot as the sun outside? Well, you can't go buy a soda or find a place with air to cool off, every door is locked, even some local grocery stores. When faced with this issue we did like any good Spaniard would and went back to our room to cool off. Within minutes we were fast asleep and enjoying the beautiful siesta that this city enjoys every single day. Oddly enough, we woke up in time to get ready for the evening and made it out to the restaurants right as they were reopening for the night. Day 2, the same thing, and again the following day. Having a nap every single day is something we can get used to, but there are a few drawbacks that all travelers should recognize.
The worst thing about the Spanish siesta for travelers is when you go out on a day trip to other cities nearby, much like we did to check out the Mezquita in Cordoba or explore one of the many Madrid day trips (although siestas are not as common there). The southern Spanish cities also takes siesta time very seriously and the entire city closed down around the same time as Seville. The only downside for day trippers is that there is no place to go if you do not have an early train ticket back to your base city. Its late in the day, you're covered in sweat, and there are barely any shops or places to escape the heat open for your convenience outside of the old town. If this happens you'll do what we did and spend two hours of the siesta in the train station waiting for your return train home.
Siesta is a very serious time.
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The biggest problem we had with the siesta lifestyle came as we returned home from our two week trip to Spain. Our last few days were spent exploring the many things to do in Barcelona, which helped ween us off the break period a little bit as the bustling city, like Madrid, never stopped moving. Still, we found ourselves taking a number of long siestas while in the city and knew that reintegrating back into the go-go-go lifestyle of the USA would be quite tricky.
With only one day off before returning to work, we started the week off strong until the usual time rolled around when we were getting used to heading back to our room for a nice long nap. The hour came and went and we were still at work, yearning for that break we had grown accustomed to. But as it were, something about working in an air conditioned building for eight hours a day doesn't make you nearly as exhausted as walking around in southern Spain's heat, and the siesta is not needed anymore. Now several weeks later the siesta period seems like a distant memory. Even though our air conditioned office buildings offer some escape from the outdoor heat, we can't help but feel nostalgic for this great, culturally accepted nap time.
Siesta, you will be missed.
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