Friday, 13 January 2012

Feliz Año Nuevo

I never thought it would come to this. New year’s eve in a hotel bar listening to jingle bells. Still, we were grateful for it after the couple of hours we’d had.

It all started so promisingly. The BH (Better Half) and I had arrived in Seville on the 30th after finding a deal on and had found a bustling city centre where each narrow street was filled with table of people eating beautiful looking tapas.

After getting over the shock of seeing people eating outside in late December we found a table of our own and stuffed our faces.

I was preparing myself mentally for the problems one might face on new year’s eve in London. I made a note of as many interesting bars as I could so that we would have options on the big night. After all, we might not be able to get in to our first choice. They’ll probably be rammed with fiesta-ing Sevillianos right? Wrong.

The BH and I hatched a foolproof plan. We would head in to town, pick one of the many restaurants offering new years eve set menus and soak up the ambiance and see what goes on when the bell strikes 12. If there wasn’t much atmos in the restaurant we’d track down a bar full of locals and see what they were up to. Seville has loads of bars and hardly any non-Spanish tourists so we were guaranteed the real deal. See? Foolproof.

We got all dressed up in the hotel and I have to confess my mouth was watering at the prospect of all the Iberian culinario delights awaiting us. Bussed it in to Santa Cruz with that excited feeling you get before something great happens. Christmas morning as a child, parties as a teenager and food and wine as an adult.

I was imagining that there would be all sorts of Spanish stuff going on. Singing and jolliness or something. I suppose I only had a nebulous idea of what it would be like. Just something I hadn’t seen before.

It turned out that a bit more research was needed.

We’d been in Seville for about 30 hours and been mightily pleased with how cheap all the glorious food was. We were flabbergasted therefore to see the restaurant known to us as ‘Cow Place’ wanted €92 for a tapas meal with one glass of wine. One glass.

We had christened it ‘Cow Place’ as there is a life sized statue of a cow in the restaurant staring down at those eating its non-papiermaché cousins. A touch eccentric I’ll grant you but it looked cute and we had thought we would go there if we could get a table. The normal menu, displayed outside, was reasonable enough and it had seemed popular the night before so it seemed like a good plan.

This night it wasn’t very busy and we can all guess the reason. After all, we’d need a lot of wine to get over paying so much and God knows what a bottle of vino tinto would have been. On December 31 anyway.

Eventually we found a place for €40 for 3 courses. It was Italian. So much for an authentic Spanish new year but we were lucky to get in. A couple were um-ing and ah-ing about whether or not to go in and we nipped in and got the last table for two.

The decor was modern. Black walls and mirrors. The floor looked like party poppers had been popped.

It turned out that this €40 deal thing involved us sharing a pizza. So I guess €40 for two and a half courses and a glass of Lambrusco.

The second phase of the foolproof plan was starting to look more likely.

The food was all right. Nothing special. The service was pretty awful. Very inattentive and definitely getting the vibe that they wanted us to leave as soon as possible. They even seemed reluctant to let us buy more wine than the afore mentioned glass of Lambrusco. For once this had nothing to do with our behaviour. We found out why when we had had enough and paid up with a suitably tiny tip.

There was a huge crowd outside. I say ‘crowd’ rather than ‘queue’ because this is Spain and therefore ‘queue’ is not appropriate. They swamped us as we came out. They were so pushy I wouldn't be surprised to learned my phone had been hacked.

Phase two had its problems too.

Prepare yourself to read something truly shocking.

Are you prepared?

Every bar in Seville was shut. That’s right. New Year’s eve. Every bar. Shut.

I guess I was looking forward to something I’d never experienced before. It took about an hour to work out that every single thing was shut. I think it really sunk in when we saw the Scottish bar was closed.

Some of you are probably thinking 'Ah, but things open late in Seville. If you'd have hung around for a while you'd have found something great.' Well, maybe. But it was gone 11 and if they're not open by then they should see a business advisor.

Time was starting to run out and we needed to see in the new year somewhere. Somewhere with a bar. It was going to have to be the hotel.

We had no problem getting a cab as everyone was still fighting over our table in the restaurant.

As the cab pulled up a group of people were waiting to take it back to town. Surely this couldn’t mean even the hotel bar was closed? Or that things were about to liven up in town?

Find out in the next installment: Feliz Año Nuevo Dos - This Time It’s Hotel