You go to New Orleans for the jazz, Munich for the beer, and Costa Rica for the sloths. And if you’re in the know–which you will be after this, my friend–you go to Seville for the scents.
I’ll try my best to explain. As I’ve complained before, we don’t have very good words for smells.
The air in Seville in springtime–which for me was all warm breezes across café tables or through the arched doorways of the Alcázar–smells light and sweet, perfume-y but like a perfume you’d want to wear, that you’d actually be glad the lady on the crowded train was wearing.
It wasn’t until a full day into visiting Seville that I realized this smell was primarily orange blossoms.
I’m not that smart about plant life, and it didn’t occur to me that the trees with the tiny white blossoms and the trees with the oranges were the same trees at slightly different stages.
It was more than just orange blossoms, though. They’ve got lemons, too.
Beyond that, Seville is full of gardens, and the gardens are full of all kinds of flowers: small white ones, dangling purple ones.
Again, botany: not my strong suit.
The amazing thing to me is that, while the smell is certainly noticeable and omnipresent, it’s not overpowering or irritating or cloying. It’s like when a host is playing the perfect background music at a party. It makes the back of your mind happy while the front of your mind is paying attention to something more pressing.
Honestly, you guys, I took a last walk around after breakfast before catching my train, just inhaling the deepest breaths possible, trying to capture as much of that delicious air in my nose as I could. I’m not exaggerating when I say it was one of the highlights of my whole trip.
Most of the places that I love, frankly, stink. New York, dear to my heart, is an incredibly foul city, with its mountains of garbage and lakes of urine. Istanbul often reeked of fish. My own beloved home of Albany Park is one of the more trash-strewn and rank neighborhoods in Chicago. But in a single afternoon the scent of Seville won me over completely.