All the shops are closed for the usual long “siesta” but nevertheless everything looks so lively and welcoming that it is hard to imagine how the streets will look like with the late evening “movida”.
The perfect way to tune-in with the Mediterranean climate is a relaxing bath in the lovely “Hammam El Andalus”, a modern establishment which carefully and elegantly recreates the intimate delights of “Baños Árabes”: far from a tourist trap (actually over 70% of the clients are locals), the elegant pools and steam baths feel like a world apart and the 2 hours of the delightful treatment pass simply too fast. We can finally experience first-hand the blissful atmosphere of the ancient baths, heritage of Roman and Moorish habits, which constituted both a secluded and discreet meeting point and the ritual religious ablution in the heart of the Alcazar.
We decide to indulge in the Arabic reminiscence of the ancient Moorish kingdoms with a tasting dinner at “Mosaico” restaurant, topped by an unusual “pastela” chicken pie decorated with (overwhelmingly) abundant amount of cinnamon and sugar...mmhhh… “interesting”. The young crowds start to fill the street and the restaurants at 10 pm but, blame the early morning wake-up call, we decide to save our energies for next day´s exploration of the Alcazaba, the city´s most important landmark.
The imposing walled city retains a distinct feel from its more famous, younger neighbours, the Alcazar of Sevilla and the Alhambra of Granada build three centuries afterwards. Most notably, a much lower amount of tourists, which guarantee a quite intimate and peaceful visit, strolling around shady gardens, cuddled by the constant flow of water thanks to an ingenious system of gutters and pipes and enjoying magnificent views over the harbour and the flamboyant baroque Cathedral.
Unlike other famous markets like “La Boquería” in Barcelona or “Mercado de San Miguel” in Madrid which became a gastronomical showcase, Atarazanas market still retains an authentic and low-key local verve.
We will re-plan our staying in Spain just to have one more go in this place, but now time to head towards the heart of Andalusian white villages and the “Frontera” !