Seville, Spain: A Perfect Spring Getaway

The mouth-watering smell of paella, the shining sun, chirping birds and the harmonious tunes of the accordion -- what more could you want out of a weekend getaway?

As the famous Sevillano painter Bartolome Esteban Murillo once said, "Seville is paradise." With its glistening Guadalquivir River, grand Baroque architecture and charming cobblestone streets, Murillo refused to paint any other city besides his beautiful and beloved hometown. This small Spanish town is a goldmine of historical treasures and is bursting with cultural delights.

Must-Sees

Begin your day with a visit to the Torre del Oro, or "Gold Tower." Unfortunately the name is misleading, as the tower is not made out of gold. Historians believe it gained its name since it once served as a holding place for metal during trading. The tower was built in the 13th century and has served a number of purposes, including a military watchtower and prison. Today, the Torre del Oro is Seville's landmark Naval Museum, displaying naval artifacts collected throughout the years. While climbing up the lighthouse's three levels, you'll find maps, model ships and weathered flags.

At the top of the tower you'll get a get a breathtaking view of the city. From this lookout point you'll be able to see the length of the pristine Guadalquivir River that flows alongside the tower's edge as well as the colorful facades of the city's many buildings. This inexpensive attraction costs 2 euros for adults and 1 euro for students, and is a terrific way to acquaint yourself with and get your first view of this lovely Spanish town.

After winding your way back down the Tower, you'll find yourself right along the water's edge. This is the Guadalquivir River, famous for its modern-day appeal to kayakers and rowers and its olden-day role of hosting trade ships. The creeping mid-day sun and breeze from the river set the scene for a relaxing riverside stroll. Bicyclists, roller bladers, runners, families and couples alike frequent the waterbank. If you're lucky enough to spot a free public dock, take the opportunity to lie down and soak in some of the sun's rays along the water's edge.

Tip- Brush up on your Spanish before you visit Seville. Unlike other touristy Spanish-speaking countries, most locals don't speak English. So while you may be able to get away with the basic "Hola" and "Gracias," it'll make your experience so much easier to know a few more key phrases. Or, just bring a little pocketbook translation guide with you.

Lunchtime

By this time of the day, you've probably worked up an appetite. Paella is the way to go. This national dish of Spain is a mixture of savory Spanish rice embedded with chunks of shrimps, mussels, garlic and onions and peppered with an assortment of vegetables and spices. Paella is prepared in a variety of forms, with chicken, rabbit and vegetable in substitution for the seafood, for example, so it caters to a wide array of palates.

Tip- Be assertive when asking for your bill. In Spain, dining is a long activity. It takes an average Spanish family around three hours to have dinner, so servers generally do not check on the table or offer to bring the bill. So keep an eye out for your server when you're ready to pay, otherwise you'll be sitting there for a while.

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