If you read my last post, you’ll already know about all the preparations that went into finding me an outfit to go to the Feria de Abril in Sevilla this year. This post is more about what happened on the day itself and what I thought of the whole experience.
Now, as I said before, the Feria as it is today is definitely not the modest agricultural fair it started out life as back in 1847. These days the Feria takes place in a part of the city that is, essentially, completely empty for the year until the week of Feria comes around. And when the Feria does come around, it doesn’t do so by halves – no, no, this is a MASSIVE event (in both the literal and metaphorical sense). Just to give you a sense of scale, the real de la feria covers an area of 1km2 or even more, the portada (or entrance gate to the Feria) is around 50m tall, and there are over 1000 casetas (think marquee tents, each with its own bar, seating area, and stage for dancing on). Yup. It’s big. And it’s definitely a BIG event in the social calendar here in Sevilla too. And if you know the right kind of people, you can get a coveted invite to one of the private casetas. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy yourself without an invite, because there are a lot of public casetas too and a huge amusement park (for lack of a better term) with food and drink stalls that is, appropriately called Calle de Infierno, or Hell Street (ha!).
I am lucky enough that one of my coordinators has a place in a private caseta and she invited me to come along for the day so I could experience it which I’m very grateful for. But first, my friend and I actually had to get there. The Feria itself is open 24 hours a day but we didn’t really see the point in getting there until mid-afternoon because we didn’t think there would be that much happening, so we spent the morning in Alcalá having breakfast and trying to get me ready so I looked the part. We got the bus into Sevilla around half 2 in the afternoon and the first stop once we got to the city was some 100 montaditos for lunch. (Side note: definitely going to miss that when I’m back home. Can someone work on opening one in Glasgow please?!) Once lunched, the next part of the day was an obligatory photo shoot in Plaza de España. Hey, don’t judge me, okay?! If I was going to make the effort to walk in that very tight skirt all day, I was going to make the most of it by having the traditional cheesy photo shoot.
We then made the naive mistake of thinking it would be easy to catch a bus from Prado over to the Feria. Ha! How young we were then, how foolish! Yeah, it proved pretty much impossible as all the buses were packed out, so we decided to take one for the team and walk it. Half an hour and some serious thigh chafing later (told you the skirt was tight) and we finally arrived at the portada. Fun fact: this year’s portada is dedicated to the expo of 92 in order to celebrate the 25th anniversary. Next step in the plan was actually finding the private caseta we’d managed to secure an invite to. Turned out it was about as far away from the entrance as you could get without leaving the Feria. Great, yet more walking. But me, my friend, and my very tight skirt did eventually make it. And to be honest it was really cool to get a chance to walk through the fair and take in some of the atmosphere. Some of the dresses were really spectacular and I loved seeing the horse riders in their traditional short jackets and hats.
Unfortunately because we’d taken so long to actually get there, my friend only got to spend about twenty minutes inside because she had to leave and catch the bus back to her village. But I managed to stay for another few hours before I gave in to exhaustion/the urge to take the skirt off all got too much. From our group kitty we bought multiple jugs of rebujito (fino sherry mixed with 7-up or Sprite), plus enormous plates of food: ham (of course), fried fish, and pork sandwiches. I eventually gave in to their multiple assertions that I needed to eat or I’d pass out, and tried a bit of everything. To be fair, they probably know what they’re talking about having done this kind of thing multiple times before, but I genuinely didn’t think I had space in the skirt. No, seriously. Fed and watered, well rebujito-d, it was time for the dancing to begin. Now, contrary to popular opinion, I’d like to think I’m actually an alright dancer when the mood takes me, but this was a different ball game altogether. I don’t know if everyone from Spain is born with an innate dance ability, but I certainly lack their kind of skill. As it happened I only managed one dance with my coordinator’s mum (her counting me in and telling me what to do the whole time – and 1, 2, 3, turn) before I got too hot inside the tent and had to go outside to get some air.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at the Feria, but kind of wish I hadn’t been so tired so I could have stayed longer and seen more of what it was like by night. But hey ho, such is life. It’s a good story to tell and I’m glad I got the chance to go. I’d like to end this post with a super massive thank you to the teachers who kindly let me borrow their clothes and accessories for the weekend!! Not that they’re ever likely to read this, but that’s not the point.