After a wonderful stay in Gran Canaria, we flew back up to mainland Spain for a weekend in Seville. We arrived late at night, and were totally exhausted when we got there, so I’m sorry to admit that instead of going out, we picked up groceries at a bodega to cook dinner in our rented apartment. After a full weekend of eating some of the best food I’ve ever had in my life at various little cafes and bars in Sevilla, I really regret passing up the opportunity to eat more! But it was probably for the best that I got a good night’s sleep on Friday, because it was two nights before Sunday morning’s marathon – and therefore the most important pre-race rest. Plus, we woke up bright and early on Saturday ready to explore!
For breakfast, we headed to a cafe in the small square by our apartment – Cafe Algrano. I chose a “crepe” to start the day; however, it turned out to be a Spanish twist on the classic French dish, with similar filling but a tortilla as the wrapper. It was delicious, but the real star of the meal was the chocolate caliente I got to drink. It was the thickest, most incredibly decadent chocolate I’ve ever had (yes, even richer than the City Bakery hot chocolate – it was basically like drinking a mug of melted chocolate. Due to its richness I don’t think I could have handled more than the small demitasse I was given, but I could gladly drink one of those every morning. SO GOOD.
You can see in this pic how its viscosity coats the side of the cup – ohhhhh I am drooling just looking at this again!
Next, we headed over to the marathon expo on Isla de Cartuja for packet pickup. Although the expo was open till 8pm, I thought it would be less stressful to go early and then not have to worry about getting there later in the day. On the way there, I was pleasantly surprised by all the orange trees and palm trees in Seville – it reminded me of a tropical destination instead of being landlocked in southern Spain! Some matching of latitudes across the Atlantic had showed me that Seville is about in line with North Carolina, but I had never before been to a place with palm trees that wasn’t right on the coastline.
Upon arrival, we saw that the expo wasn’t huge, and so we found our way over to the help desk without much trouble. For some reason, the marathon registration website wouldn’t accept my credit card when I went to register, so after some emails with the organizers, they told me to email them a completed registration form and then pay cash at the expo. (Only 21 Euros – such a cheap race!) The solutions desk didn’t seem surprised to see me, and pulled out a stack of about a dozen paper registrations. As they flipped through to find mine, I saw that every single one had a US home address – so apparently I wasn’t the only American with this problem! I felt better that I hadn’t been the “difficult” one with the registration process, and very glad that the situation resolved itself so easily, since I had stressed about it for a while.
We walked around the expo a bit, but chose to stay only a short time before heading back to the bus to downtown. There was so much to see in Seville and only a very short time to see it in!
When we got back to Seville, though, it quickly became clear that “so much to see” was really more “so much to eat and drink” – and here’s where my night before the race turned into a total “don’t do what I do.”
It all started at a tapas bar where we went for a late lunch on our way from the bus stop back to our apartment. I decided a glass of sangria with lunch would be tasty, but didn’t realize that the Spanish version of sangria isn’t just wine with fruit in it, but includes lots of other alcohol (vodka, triple sec, etc) in the glass as well. Furthermore, while I tried to order what I thought would be a sandwich as my meal, I soon discovered that what I had actually ordered was a huge pile of cheese, plus two pieces of bread soaked in (amazing) olive oil. It was delicious, but not exactly low-fat or carb-heavy, which is usually what I need before a race. No matter – once that was finished it was onto the next bar.
And so began an eight hour tour of all the cute little bars and tapas restaurants in Sevilla. We couldn’t get over the crazy low prices on wine (when we saw wines listed as 10-15 Euros, we thought that was the per glass price – but it was per bottle), and as a result, we indulged just a bit too much. I tried to balance the vino with some carb-heavy foods, but my lack of Spanish skills meant that there was quite a bit of disconnect. For anyone else out there, please learn from my mistake that “tortilla espagnolas con patate” is not a potato-stuffed burrito, but actually a cheesy cold quiche that has a few potato slices in it.
Five stops later (and a bottle of wine at each), we reached what ended up being our final restaurant of the night. We figured out how to say that I was running the marathon the next day, and asked for food “recommendars”… but given that it was 10pm and I had quite a bit of wine already, our waiter seemed quite skeptical of that story. Really? You are running the marathon? Hmmm… maybe this wasn’t the best way to prepare.
But hey, if I was in Spain, I was going to enjoy it – and so we unashamedly stopped at the heladeria near our apartment for one last treat before bed. Meat, cheese, gelato, and my personal consumption of 2.5 bottles of wine? Oh boy… this was going to be a very interesting race.