Why Pre-Packaged Tours Are Not Ideal Reason 3: Finding Personal Monuments

When I woke up in Seville, Spain one morning I had only one mission; get to the Alcázar.

As I departed, I was fully equipped with directions from the hotel and the map on my phone, prepared to get from point A to B.

Yet as I passed grand plazas, tranquil in the early morning, I couldn’t help but slow down and admire my surroundings, soak up the moment.

I stopped to take pictures of statues, plazas, buildings and streets. With no one herding me, no group to keep up, I was free to feel the moment and let it take me where it wanted and when.

Seville Spain statue plaza.jpg
Seville Spain building.jpg

Somewhere along the way I stopped for a traditional breakfast of coffee, chorizo and bread at a local spot where I stood at the counter and tried in my best Spanish to make small talk with the person behind the counter like I would as if I came in here every Tuesday for breakfast.

Seville Spain restaurant.jpg

When I continued on, I half-heartedly followed the directions until I remembered I had all day to explore Seville. I put my phone away and continued in the general direction towards the Alcazar, wandering off the main roads.

I found myself walking past a fascinating cathedral dramatized by the shade of the morning. Then I passed a university with it’s students meeting at a café to chat about an assignment or maybe a love interest, as a modern looking tram juxtaposed to the historic setting crawled by.

Seville Spain Cathedral.jpg

Soon I stumbled upon a garden with a wide walkway. On my left was an aged mustard yellow wall with the notion of a fence atop, completely covered in ivy, which later I decided, was the back wall of the Alcazar garden. On my right were benches, trees, water fountains and statues that opened up to a main road in the distance. The blur of cars whizzing past, blocked by foliage.

Seville Spain park2.jpg
Seville Spain park.jpg
Seville Spain park statue.jpg

I continued to follow the path along the wall until it lead me to a building that I was in awe of. It stopped me in my tracks. I can’t say exactly what caught my eye, or why I felt so compelled to stop and stare.

Perhaps it was the twisted tree that framed the corner. Or it’s color; an aged shade of white with mustard yellow accents, rich brown Moorish details and wrought iron balcony. Or it might have been the size; it wasn’t huge by any means, it wasn’t exceptional. It was most likely a common place of residence and that perhaps was the most beautiful thing of all, that this was once a regular home for regular people.

Seville Spain home.jpg
Seville Spain residence.jpg

I was there for minutes, maybe even twenty I can’t be sure. My reaction must have been obvious because several small groups of tourists stopped as well to take pictures and discuss amongst themselves what they thought this building must be.

If someone had tried to talk to me, I probably wouldn’t have even been able to speak, but only choke on my words while I tried to process my feelings about how truly beautiful a simple life can be.

It was one of those moments that I find myself having while I travel. Those heart stopping, goose bump forming, joy radiating throughout my whole body kind of moments. It’s these moments that I travel for, that I live for.

I think we travel not for the seeing of sights and the doing of activities, but for the way we feel while we’re seeing sights and doing activities abroad. When we’re out of our element, seeing how other people live or have lived in the past, exploring new things and more importantly exploring ourselves.

I would have never discovered this building, this feeling, this moment, unless I had allowed myself the time to wander, the freedom to following not a map but my own intuition.

If I had visited Seville, Spain with a pre-packed tour of Spain for example with three days in Seville and a group tour to the Alacazar, I would have missed what was one of my favorite moments while in Spain. It was a moment I created for myself.

It was personal, it was uniquely my experience.

That’s the Sapphire & Elm Travel difference. We get to know you personally in order to help you create your own unique experiences. Nothing is mass produced, nothing is set in stone. You have the knowledge of a place, the local insights, personalized recommendations and the freedom to do your own thing.

To create your own stories.

To make this the best possible experience in the country.

So tell us, how do you like to travel?

Contact us to plan your next great travel adventure to Seville, Spain or beyond.

Missed the first two posts in this series? You can see them here