|A city with a sense of humor|
|Artificially shaded street|
Most drinks other than coffee are served in the same simple 8-ounce glasses known as tubos. (Coke gets its own curvy green glass.) This seems a laughably small amount of beer, but there's a hidden advantage in that you can finish it before it gets warm, and it balances the tapa that accompanies it. Orange juice is almost always fresh-squeezed, an elaborate machine that feeds actual oranges through a mechanical splitter and juicer crowding the corner of most bars.
|A hanging forest of hams|
|About $10 worth of pork raised to the highest power|
The labyrinthine streets of the historic center of Seville are in many cases too narrow for cars, with the happy result that pedestrians rule--though Vespas and other motorbikes do pose an occasional menace, their inadequate mufflers creating a racket that reverberates among the closely spaced buildings. Even VW Golfs and smaller are diesels.
Despite the prevalence of well-marbled ham, fried squid and eggplant, crusty white bread, potato salad drowning in mayonnaise and grilled vegetables (and everything) swimming in olive oil, to say nothing of ice cream shops and pastry stores on every corner, the people are smaller too. Spaniards can be dwarfishly short or outlandishly tall, but they're almost uniformly slender--though there does seem to be a sudden tipping point around 45 when huge bellies emerge on men and thick hips and arms on women. Evidently marriage is bad for the constitution. The typical strong features--white skin, black hair, heavy eyebrows and chins surrounding fine noses--soften at this point too.
|Even the Dumpsters are tiny|
Even the sun is extra-intense; mornings are pleasant, and nights tolerable, but afternoons drive the world under umbrellas and awnings--equipped with cold water misters--for lunch, and then inside for a long nap. Visitors learn quickly to do almost anything to avoid standing in the sun, or walking on the unshaded side of the street. Between the long days and overcharged sun, 6 or 7 in the evening feels like early afternoon.
|Cocktails on the train|
The night belongs to Spain. My previous visit to Seville was a day trip, and its charms eluded me: a giant cathedral, orange trees out of bloom, horse-drawn carriages and their attendant shit--what was the big deal? But the liveliness of a Seville night, when every sidewalk becomes an obstacle course of rowdy tables, and lines of standing drinkers snake half a block away from popular bars, is unrivaled. The much-ballyhooed Temple Bar area of Dublin matches Seville in noise and volume of alcohol consumption, but lacks both the gastronomic splendor of tapas and the elegance of people drinking for refreshment rather than oblivion.
|Typical old-fashioned bar, too early (9 pm) for typical crowds|