Winter holidays are all about sun for the simple reason that holidays are about new, different, exciting. And there’s nothing more foreign to the British in winter than sunshine falling down in thick golden curtains.
The city below was Seville and, when you think Seville, you think oranges and flamenco, bullfighting and tapas. And you think sun. Four days of sun: three in Seville and one in Cádiz on the coast about a two-hour train away.
It was the best kind of trip: impromptu and unexpected. Return flights for £30? A hostel for £60 each for four nights? Cheap and excellent beer? Equally cheap and even more excellent food? Are we doing this? We’re doing this.
January was set to end as it always does: slowly and darkly but then it was suddenly impossibly exciting. It didn’t feel real until the day before - usually before a holiday, you have months to look forwards, we had six days between booking and flying.
Needless to say, Seville is a stupidly perfect place. The culture is social, defined by leisure time spent over small glasses of beer and smaller plates of food shared with friends over hours at a time because why not. The city is green and has a vast river; history and passion.
The people are healthy and happy, quietly smug in the knowledge that they live in a city which gets as many hours of sunshine a year as London and Edinburgh combined. A city where people work to live as opposed to the other way around. Where being outside is the default.
In both Seville and Cádiz, people walked places, passing through fountain-strewn plazas and down arterial sidestreets where buskers slapped at guitars and dancers stamped their feet with arms aloft. The atmosphere is intoxicating: I was even lulled into trying tripe on a whim of Andalusian overconfidence. A mistake.
It’s easy to fall foolishly in love with places you visit on holiday, returning home full of smitten wanderlust for a parallel life of balconies and cigars; of palm trees and coatless nights. Well, consider me a smitten idiot.
The Spanish have a saying which goes ‘quien no ha visto Sevilla, no ha visto maravilla’, which translates as ‘those who haven’t seen Seville, haven’t seen wonder’.
Truer words have never been spoken.