'Fin de semana – Adventures in Andalucía' through the eyes of our intern Neil
Fin de semana – Adventures in Andalucía
The first time I heard about B3ST’s Seville internship was exactly 6 days before our flight departed from Heathrow. Sophie, my close friend from university, mentioned she was on the internship and an extra vacancy had become available. Two phone calls later, and my ticket to Seville was booked. It would go on to be undoubtedly the happiest 3 months of my life so far, and an opportunity I will always be grateful for.
Even when the plane is leaving next week, it’s not too late to apply, and don’t be afraid to dive in headfirst, the organisation and support from B3st and 3si is second to none.
When asked to write a blog summarising the internship in Seville, I was entirely overwhelmed. So much so, that it has taken me almost a full year to come around to writing one. The three months in Seville were a formative period of personal growth and healing in my life, and I couldn’t really begin the task of putting any of it into words. You see, the hardest thing about the internship wasn’t “settling in” or anything to do with the work, it was leaving Seville behind and returning to life in England, and the reality that it would probably be a long time until I saw any of the group again.
The warm camaraderie of friendships made, the cultural experiences, constant learning, the healthy lifestyle, all combined into an experience that I couldn’t believe had been real. Suffice to say I feel I could write a short book on benefits of the internship, from mental health and wellbeing to physical fitness, socialising, and cultural immersion… so the thought of trying to condense it into a blog post made my head spin.
To be most useful to future interns, I’m writing my blog with a focus on the weekends, the fin de semana, the crescendo of each week in the city (and out of it). The beauty of the Spanish four-day working week allowed the weekends to become the most valuable time of the internship, where the largest social nights went down, and when the most exciting adventures occurred. As tempting as it is to idle the weekend away sipping tinto de veranos in the Alameda, it was always worth putting some planning in the midweek to ensure a wild weekend to look forwards to.
So here follows a list of our weekend antics and adventures in chronological order, I highly recommend any other interns to make the most of them as well.
The local tour, historical tour, your tender first sips of Cruzcampo (or Alhambra if you already have impeccable taste). The first weekend basically happens for you, enjoy the downtime before the work starts and get your bearings in the city. I recommend sorting bikes out early on, it’s the best way to get around the city. Go to Paseobici, the bloke is a legend and charges fairly. Tell him “Neil de inglaterra, el hombre que compró una bicicleta blanca "da vinci" en esta época el año pasado.” sent you there, he might give you a mate’s rate or a slightly confused look, who knows.
2. Local visits
The modern art museum, the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, is worth a visit. An afternoon exploring the Parque de María Louisa, and Alamillo parks. Alamillo would become the ideal place for a morning run, afternoon kickabout, and general chillout spot. And the Real Alcazar of course, a royal palace inconspicuously nestled in the center of town.
3. Italica & Ruta Del Aqua
This weekend upped the Ante, with a fascinating trip biking out of Sevilla to the west to see the roman ruins of Italica, birthplace of emperor Hadrian, and Game of Thrones filming destination. The next day on Saturday, Laura, cheerleader in chief and planner of many of the trip’s activities, had organised a hike to the North of Sevilla, the Ruta del Aqua. It was an arduous yet rewarding day ambling for hours with the group, weaving into densely vegetated valleys, and out, to views of the glistening reservoir below. It was the farthest any of us had walked, but the cold cervesas in Guillena after thirty parched kilometres made it all worth it.
4. Puente de Alamillo rock climbing
It was about a month into the internship that I made friends with Ivan, who could go on to become my rock-climbing buddy for the rest of the trip. Ivan wasn’t with our group of interns, but people from various sending organisations mingle in the alameda and I heard rumour that there was a fellow rock climber in town. We became great friends instantly and would train together regularly at the bridge.
Whatever it is you are into, be it climbing in my instance, dancing, football, the gym - Sevilla has it, you can get involved with the locals, the other interns. It’s the perfect city for anybody into sports.
Puente de Alamillo was the local’s rock climbing training venue, and somewhere I fell in love with. I would practice on the bolted routes under the bridge to get ready for a future visit to El Chorro, where I would be up on real cliffs.
5. Paddleboarding the Guadalquivir & The Sierra de Grazalema hike
Sophie had the idea to go SUP boarding on the river, a session is around $20 each from the Centre de avtividades náuticas. The leisurely cruise will inevitably descend into a desperate battle to wobble each other into the water, but that’s welcome after sizzling in the heat for an hour.
That night, after a few big beers in Alameda, a few of us planned a hike in the Sierra de Grazalema the following morning. Waking to a spinning room, and after downing two finger-sized paracetamols, I was jogging over to meet Jon, Laura, Ivan, and Helen, to rent a car and head out to the mountains. It was one of the standout days of the trip, and one I will never forget.
Strolling around the beautiful village of Grazalema, fighting through the hangover and summiting the 1569m Simancon mountain, circled by vultures and being visited by wild bees and butterflies along the way, it was breathtakingly beautiful. It was taking a dip in the nearby “Embalse de Zahara-el gastor” lake that was the crowning jewel of the day. Still radiating contentment from the success of the hike, the warm water eased all aches whilst the view of medieval Zahara de la Sierra, perched improbably atop a spine of rock, encompassed us under an electric blue sky.
6. Playa de Rompeculos
I can’t quite believe it took us over a month to heed Nicki Minaj’s recommendation and head to the beach, which is testament to how much there is to see and do in Sevilla itself. Avoid the slightly closer Matalasclanas, head further West along the coast for a more rewarding beach visit.
Even the stop en-route to Granada, in the rural town of Antequera, was magical. The weekend was filled with a sense of adventure, discovery, and exploration. Granada has a completely different atmosphere to Seville. There’s a more alpine feel, the cuisine and architecture have been shaped by a more Arabic influence, and the city has far more topography with its steep, cobbled streets opening up to reveal views of the Alhambra. Obviously the Alhambra is the number one destination, but equally interesting was the steep hillside to the north of the palace, dotted with carved-out cave homes and winding paths that lead up to the Ermita de San Miguel where there is a great view over the whole city.
8. Bolonia & Cadiz
A religious feria turned the usual three-day weekend into a four-day holiday. Ivan, fellow intern Jon and I set out by bus towards Bolonia for a camping and climbing adventure whilst the rest of the interns headed to Cadiz.
Sometimes everything going wrong can be a silver lining in disguise. We misjudged the location of the climbing cliffs by one headland, and a short walk to the crag turned into an epic 20km hike through sand dunes and pine forests to reach the cliffs at San Bartolo. The scenery along the route was stunning, and there couldn’t’ have been better company than Jon or Ivan who kept morale high as we plodded, laden with camping and climbing gear through the evening. Setting up camp in a national park overlooking the straits of Gibraltar was a special treat. The following morning, with a misty view over to Africa as we packed up camp, we finally reached our initial target, the jagged crags of San Bartolo
where a day of climbing followed. It wasn’t to be the last of our misadventures however- we still had to get back home to re-join the group in Cadiz. Exhausted after the climbing, we trekked another 3 hours north to the town of Facinas, where we would pitch up illegally in a random field and wait until the following morning for the bus to Cadiz.
Emerging from the wild back into society in Cadiz was like receiving a bucket of cold water to the face, it’s a busy tourist destination but feels laid back and authentic, with charming buildings everywhere you look, and endless places to find delicious food. Jon and I filled ten spare minutes with a stroll around an ancient roman ampitheatre before meeting the others for ice cream. The town is so littered with landmarks and history that you can easily visit what would be a famous heritage destination in the UK, as a simple detour. The nightlife took me completely by surprise, for a quiet seaside town I was not expecting to find thumping open air club venues that make England’s clubs look like run-down dives but there we were, ron y cola’s firmly being dispatched at Momart terraza, on an absolutely roaring one. A weekend to never forget.
9. El Chorro climb, hike, and camp
Whilst El Chorro is a world-famous location for rock climbers, it’s also an amazing place for emersion in nature, wild towering scenery, and relaxing out of the city in a beautiful landscape. Ivan and I rock climbed for a day before being joined by the whole intern group for a weekend camping trip. Stay at the Olive branch hostel and campsite, the owners Mel and Gary are the most accommodating and warm hosts you could wish for, and the setting is just unbelievable. There are always other interesting travellers staying there with great stories to tell, and it has a real sense of community and relaxation there. When we visited the Caminito del Rey was closed, but a swim in the nearby lake more than made up for it. Watching the sun set over the valleys, perched on top of the cliffs behind the hostel with a few bottles of wine was just bliss.
10. Cazalla de la sierra birthday villa
It was my flatmate, and hermano from another madre Matt’s birthday near the end of the trip, and we planned a weekend in a villa to celebrate. Airbnb is your friend in Spain, you can find gorgeous boutique accommodation which, when split between a large group, can be really affordable. We caught the bus into the Sierra Norte, and spent a weekend in Cazalla de la Sierra, a sleepy rural town with side streets populated by customised off-road vehicles, rooftops embellished with nesting storks, and a surrounding expanse of fields and woodland.
Hopefully seeing what previous intern cohorts filled their weekends with will inspire you to make the most of every single day off work, fight the urge to lay in the Alamillo or sip drinks in alameda on your weekends, and maybe you’ll follow in our footsteps and repeat some of these epic trips. The three months in Spain is way more than just the professional work you’ll do at the internship and in Seville, it’s an incredible and rare opportunity to travel around the region and see some of Europe’s most beautiful places and people. Three months will go by painfully fast, and before you know it you’ll be boarding a plane back to England, so make the most of every opportunity!