Visit the Alfonso XIII Hotel in Seville to See Where Lawrence of Arabia Was Filmed

You already know that Plaza de Espana has been used several times in big Hollywood pictures like Lawrence of Arabia, Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones, The Dictator and Knight and Day. Head towards city center and step inside the luxurious Alfonso XIII Hotel. This was the officer’s club in Lawrence of Arabia.

After surviving his ordeal in the desert, Lawrence enters the officer’s club with his Arab assistant. He head to bar and asks for a lemonade … “It’s for him!”

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The hotel is Sevilla’s finest and most historic, so expect $900-a-night for a room. It’s free to walk in and take a look around. Built in 1929, the hotel finished a major renovation in 2012. The rooms were updated with Moorish, Castillian, and Andalusian furnishings and tile work. The cast and crew from Lawrence and Knight & Day stayed in the hotel during filming. Bruce Springsteen was also a guest.

The lobby space was returned to their former glory through a painstaking 10-month cleaning and restoration. Here, you can get a sense of how it was like in 1961. There’s an immense sense of detail that honors Sevilla’s Morish history.  The center sun-lit parlor is the best place to compare scenes from the movie to what’s around you.

In some of the side hallways, you can see historic photos from the 20s and 30 along with some hotel artifacts.

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Craft Beer in Sevilla — Maquila Bar and La Jerónima

Beer and dessert … it’s a good thing.

Maquila Bar is the first brew pub in Sevilla, which is a mighty feat for the city since it’s steeped in history and tradition. After a week of eating in bars that were older than America, I think it was time to embrace the new school. The space is simple, but modern and comfortable

While I came for the beer, I returned for the food which was phenomenal. As you can see below, the Salsibury meatballs and mushroom pasta is as divine as it looks. Not pictured, the empanadas with chimichurri sauce and crispy chicken with tandoori sauce. Served as a tapa, it is perfect for your moveable feast. The staff, were super nice and personable, will pair your beer with your food … and your dessert. Chocolate stout cake and ice cream biscuits is a must.

The beer brewed on the premises goes by the name SON Brewing Company, which is sold locally in bottles. They’ll have four of their own plus two guest drafts.

Here’s what I had:

  • Chankete Is Dead — Session IPA
  • MAYO 15:37 — Saison
  • Mucho TrigoHefeweizen
  • Nara – American Pale Ale

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Like Maquila, La Jerónima has more of a youthful crowd looking for craft beer. It bills itself as a bar and bookstore — a LibroTaberna. I stopped by three times because I became fast friends with the staff (what up, Eva!) and a few regulars. It’s a very comfortable space and since it’s Europe, take your beer outside to hold court.

The last night, I took some British tourists I met at Bar Garlochi who into craft beer to La Jerónima. Then I met an Irish couple of their honeymoon — it was his fourth marriage and at 68 years old, he has 2 great grandkids already.

While they have just three taps, their bottle list is pretty extensive and loaded with Spanish beer from every region. Just ask to look at the chalkboard.

Lost Horse by Hecatombe Brewing Co. — American Pale Ale
Cerveza Malaga by Kernel Panic — American Pale Ale. It is a craft beer featuring an orange color and the foam is persistent and creamy. Aromatically it offers fruit and citrus notes, which together with its intense flavor makes it a perfectly balanced beer.
Piconera by Tierra de FronteraAroma dominated by roasted malts, with roasted notes of coffee, licorice and even chocolate. Mouth reappear in a more decisive way these attributes, emphasizing above all a pleasant and balanced touch of coffee, filled in by the sweetness of caramelized malts, and culminated in a final, dry and bitter long.
Borderland  by Tierra de fronteraRemarkably clean and deep amber. creamy and persistent foam. Aroma with sweet notes of caramel and ripe fruit, which initially persists in the mouth, to make way for a final, long dry and bitter.
—  Zurda by Cervezas Abril — American blonde ale
Calabaza Y Canela by Cordobeer — Pumpkin beer
La Socarrada by La Socarrada Cervesa Artesanal De Xativa — American Golden Ale brewed with rosemary and rosemary honey.

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La Carbonería in Sevilla for Free Flamenco

Flamenco and Sevilla are synonymous, but Andalusians complain that the dance started in Granada. If you want to get technical, the origins can be traced back to the Roma Gypsies. They migrated from India, bringing their music and culture that evolved that into what we know as Flamenco today.

In all the gift and souvenir shops you’ll tributes to Flamenco and the popular dancers. There are stores dedicated to finding the right dresses, scarves, shoes, hats and fans in case you want to impress your loved ones back home.

There are plenty of shows geared towards the tourists. You’ll find plenty of pamphlets, signs and deals for a night of dinner and dance. What I asked myself is if I would want to dedicate a couple of hours to a performance. Hell, no. Same thing happened to me in Vienna. There’s classical music every where, but no desire to see because it’s geared towards the tourists.

This brings me La Carbonería, the only place you can see Flamenco for free. Just buy some cheap sangria and watch fifteen minutes. You like, you stay. If not, move on. It’s sort of like an open mic night with performances starting at 8pm. Don’t expect the best of the best or elaborate performances. There’s a reason it’s free.

The interiors are rustic and no thrills … and no air conditioning. There’s plenty of benches in a garage-like setting (the place you to be a coal warehouse). As I suspected, it’s mostly tourists who come who want to say they saw flamenco, but don’t want to shell out a lot of money for a whole night.

I was curious myself, and as luck would have it, I ran into somebody I knew. Yup, small world. “What are you doing here?” “No, what are YOU doing here?”

There’s a secret flamenco society that does performances at midnight in the Triana district. That’s where you’ll find the locals crammed into small, stuffy rooms. At midnight, I’m winding down after all the walking, eating and drinking.

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El Rinconcillo is Sevilla Oldest Tapas Bar, and Will Outlive Us All

Located on an intersection of three streets (Gerona, Bustos Tavera and Sol), it feels that the Sevilla was built around El Rinconcillo. I kept walking past when traversing the city. There’s a reason people say  “Location, location, location” is key to a businesses success.

Founded in 1670, it’s oldest bar in the city and since 1858, owned by the De Rueda family. You’re going there for a drink and quick eat because the interiors are stunning. It’s old school before old school was old school. Every where you look, you’ll see antique wine and liquor bottles, signage and fixtures. Like my tour of the historic pubs of Dublin, El Rinconcillo is the template for all other tapas bars

If I was a fashion model, I would want to do a photo shoot in here. If you’re a single gal or guy, dress up real fancy, have somebody take a black and white Instagram photo and boom, you got a sexy dating profile picture.

While you can get a table, don’t. Sevilla is a movable feast — have a couple of drinks, two tapas and be on your way. The tourists group sit at the table. You are mingling with the old timers, locals and travelers in the know at the front bar.

The vermouth cocktail is a good intro and big plate of olives. Although, after two weeks of free olives, I think I was peeing olive oil. Food wise I kept it simple, I went with a slab of bacon, manchego and bread and a tiny hamburger. Come on, tiny hamburgers are so cute.

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Sevilla — The View from the Top of the Cathedral

The Sevilla Cathedral is the third largest church in Europe, so shouldn’t you drag your tired ass up 330 feet to see the glorious view? There are not even steps, it’s all ramps. This dates back to when it was a mosque, because donkeys needed to travel up to the top. You can call it your first handicap accessible attraction, or from what I saw,  stroller friendly.

When you travel up the 35 ramps, you’re greeted with sweeping views of the city. I had this talk today at the Travel Savvy offices. Give me a view of a city over the ocean. I just dig concrete and human ingenuity over nature. Cities you can stare about and wonder what’s going on out there.

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The Brew Pubs of Dublin: The Porterhouse vs. J.W. Sweetman

Wrapping my beer tour of Dublin where I’ve written about the old historic pubs and then the new craft beer bars, it’s time to go over the brew pubs. If you can stand up straight after visiting the other ones, you have two to choose from in Dublin within a ten minute along the river.

The Porterhouse on Parliament St. is a small chain of brew pubs  — six in Ireland (4 in Dublin), one in London and one satellite at Fraunces Tavern in New York City. Their Temple Bar location in Dublin has a sort industrial, steampunk meets library in a football pub setting. The TVs in some pubs are frowned upon by the local old timers, but they bring in the punters and tourists looking to watch the matches. The layout is a little funky with two back areas away from the noisy center bar and an upstairs areas that overlooks the whole place.

Like the Galway Bay Brewing-owned pubs, the Porterhouse has an extensive selection of their own beers along with guest breweries. Even though most Irish people order full pints, I went with the half pints so I can sample them all and keep up some appearance of decency.

Here’s what I had:

  • Wrasslers XXXX Irish Stout
  • Kölsch
  • Chiller Lager
  • Irish Red Ale

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J.W. Sweetman lays claim to be the lone micro-brewery in Dublin proper. I would add that it’s also the most dimly lit pub in Dublin. Flowing beer and dark spaces can make for some dangerous situations. I was there on a rawkus Saturday night where I ran into several “hen” parties, a.k.a. bachelorette parties.

The pub is spread out over three floors with a basement space, thus you have 4 bars to choose from. Even with all that space, it was tough to find a place to sit or stand. Interacting with others became a shouting match.

From what I can see, there was plenty of stuff on the walls to gaze out. I remember on the stairs they displayed antiques with signs over them saying, “Please Don’t Touch.” Yeah, they are just asking for trouble.

Both of these places, I didn’t have food. Beer wise, The Porterhouse takes the crown — more experimental and distinct. J.W. Sweetman’s beers didn’t speak to me, a little watery for my taste and a but bland. Reading recent news, they’ve upped their brew game a bit from two years ago. Thus, will check out again.

Here’s what I had:

  • Pale Ale
  • Red Ale
  • Porter