Feria Festivities!

I guess i’m reverse jet lagged or something so i can’t stay asleep past 6am (Slightly problematic as i went to bed at 3am) so gonna keep on trying to catch up on the blog. This post is about the fantastic fair that is Feria.

Feria!

On Monday, May 2nd at midnight the worlds greatest fair began. We were all standing outside of the Portada, surrounded by thousands of Spaniards waiting for the lights to come on. As the clock struck midnight, the beautiful Portada began to light up, and the crowd of drunken Sevillans cheered and marched forward into the Feria grounds, marking the beginning of one of the wildest, most incredible week -long parties I have ever seen!

Portada lit up!

To give you some background on the event, Feria is an amazing Spring festival that Sevilla is famous for, which takes place every year during the first week of May. There are sprawling Feria grounds, which put any county fair to shame, and they are filled with beautiful Casetas (Tents), in which the Spaniards spend their days drinking and dancing the festivals dance, Sevillana. Sevillana is an awesome dance that is Sevillans take on Flamenco, and everyone is always dancing to it throughout the festival. There are hundreds of rides and attractions set up for the kids, and they are soo much fun! It seemed as though safety of the rides is not nearly as big a deal in Spain, and so as a result the rides were super fast and tons of fun. There is no real reason for the festival, beyond the fact that Andalucians love to drink, eat, and dance haha

The festival takes place at the end of calle asuncion, and we were fortunate enough to be living just minutes from the festival! Everyone dresses incredibly well during the event, with the men wearing their best suits and slacks, while the women wore the absolutely gorgeous Sevillana dresses which made every girls curves look like a coke bottle.

Women in their dresses

The first night, we all threw on our best button downs and headed over to the Portada, which is the beautiful structure erected to form the entrance of the event. The lighting ceremony that I described earlier on was amazing, and the events to follow were even better. After wandering around the grounds for a bit to get a feel of the place, we headed over to a public caseta.

Dream Team

Public Caseta

During the festival there are two types of casetas, public and private. As the name indicates, the public tents are open to everyone, where as the much more elaborate private tents were much more difficult to get into, as they were owned by families or organizations, and you had to know someone to get into them. Although at first it was somewhat frustrating being unable to easily get into the nicer private tents, I quickly began to appreciate them as i realized the Casetas have a family atmosphere where all friends and family gather to celebrate and spend time with one another.

Private Caseta!

Anyhow, we walked into the public tent to see groups of people sitting around the tables, and many women dancing on a stage to the music playing the Sevillana music. Apparently the men were not very good at the dance, so it was mainly the women who were dancing around. We all grabbed a few jarras of rebujito, the absolutely delicious traditional drink of Feria, which is consumed in copious amounts in all the casetas throughout the week. The drink is really quite easy to make, as it is composed of Manzanilla wine mixed with 7up and ice. It is served in large pitchers and the Spaniards sip on them throughout the day in small vasos. We enjoyed the rest of the night in the public caseta as we soaked up our surreal surroundings at Feria for the first time.

Day 2

Our second day of Feria was just as much fun as the first one. We had lunch at home, and then headed off down Suncy to check out the festivities during the day. “Suncy” is the loving nickname hirsh drunkenly coined in reference to calle Asuncion, which is the main street we live off of. Suncy was Popping! Never seen soo many people on that street ever before, and all of the people were soo incredibly well dressed during the day. Felt rather underdressed in my shorts and polo as all the men were wearing full suits with tie and all, and the women were dressed in their lovely and expensive Feria dresses. On our walk down, we actually saw all of the Suncy girls on their balconies wearing their Feria dresses which was rather amusing. I was actually a little jealous of them, as their mother had paid for them to not only rent dresses, but also take free sevillana lessons once a week, and I would have killed to be able to do the dance during the week! On a side note, I’m seriously interested in learning all sorts of random dances next year, so if anyone’s down to tke some lessons with me lemme know!

Smelledencia all dressed up

Anyways, Upon entering the grounds, the first thing that struck me was the incredible number of Horses that there were everywhere carrying people around. The horses were all fully decked out and dolled up, and the owners would parade around in the back carriages as a means of showing their wealth to other members of society. We hit up a public caseta for a little bit, and had a couple young ladies teach me a little bit about how to Sevillana. After awkwardly fumbling through the dance for a few minutes, we all headed off to the rides!

Horses were everywhere

None of us had gone on any rides yet so were eager to try them out. The attractions area was ridiculous, with rides in every direction. We had an epic bumper cars fail, as we decided that when everyone got out of their cars we were going to jump into cars and hope for the best. Todd and I grabbed one, and Kari and Ollie took another and we were settled in ready to smash some cars. Unfortunately, all of us brilliantly managed to ignore the fact that you obviously had to pay to get the car moving, and our plan began to unravel rather rapidly. They started the bumper cars, and we were sitting right in the middle of everything…not moving at all. We were getting smashed left and right, as every other car could move making us sitting ducks. In a rather embarrassing and amusing end to the story, an employee had to escort us to the side and just shook his head at us and repeatedly told us we had to pay first haha.

Bumper Car Fail haha

Afterwards, we went on this crazy ride that spun in circles while rapidly bouncing up and down in every direction while flipping you upside down. An easier way to visualize it would be to imagine your best friend, and then imagine them drunkenly spinning around in circles flailing their arms up, down and sideways. The ride was awesome, and afterwards we headed back home for dinner.

Crazy ride we went on

That night, we met up with all of our API buds and headed back over to the Feria grounds. We spent some time in a public caseta we hadn’t been to before and enjoyed the rest of the evening.

Girls all dressed up!

With my chicas Erika and Lilly!

Day 3

On the third day of Feria, exhausted from the night before we spent the afternoon relaxing. Nick’s parents, Beth and David, who were our gracious hosts in Paris had arrived in Sevilla so we met up with them. After a rather entertaining meeting between Mama Rosa, and Nick’s parents, which saw the language barrier at it’s finest we took them to our absolute favorite Wednesday spot, Cien Montaditos! After some time at Cien, me and a few of the girls from our residencia decided to head down the road to soak in some Feria fun and Sevilla sun.

Portada during the day!

Cien with the Penderys!

We got to the grounds, and all agreed that we were tired of the public casetas and were all intrigued by the possibility of entering one of the beautiful (And more fun-looking) private casetas. Ideally we could just be able to walk in to the tents, but as mentioned earlier you had to know somebody or have a Spaniard be attracted to you to get you and your friends in. Katie decided that she would take the second option, and we all laughed as we assumed she had the flirting ability of an awkward fourth grader. What we failed to factor in was that Katie is a blonde, and Spanish men love their blondes or Rubias. She approached a group of males, and through her broken Spanish and smile somehow managed to get them interested enough to want to meet all of us. After a few minutes of small talk, our new friends led us off to one of their private casetas and we followed them eagerly, and more impressed than anything that Katie had seemingly managed to actually make her ridiculous plan work.

We got into a private caseta!

We got to their tent, Caseta 151 (there were thousands of them) we headed on in and the fun began. They bought us pitchers of rebujito, passed out delicious tapas to us and introduced us to all their friends who were as eager to meet Americans as we were to meet the Spaniards in the private casetas. The first thing I noticed upon entering their tent was that nearly everyone inside spoke English! Now that may not sound like a big deal, but when you consider the fact that almost no one I’ve encountered in Andalucía speaks fluent English, and I found a tent full of people who did I was definitely taken aback and pleasantly surprised. Regardless, I’ve been attempting to improve my Spanish, and with every copa de rebujito my confidence in my Spanish speaking abilities improved so I ended up speaking in Spanish for the duration of the 3 hours or so we were in the tent. To give you an idea of how much fun we were having, we actually called mama that Wednesday night and told her we were going to skip the one meal a week we truly look forward to, Fajita night.

Nuevos amigos!

All of the people that we had met were incredibly friendly and interesting. Luis was working in Madrid and was going to get his MBA in Boston in a few months. Gabriel was a young business executive working with EMC squared. Pepe was a huge man that could have easily played on Marylands depleted Offensive Line and Alvaro was awesome. There was a little balding man named Antonio who was a riot as well. After 3 hours of drinking, dancing, eating, and fun we headed back home to get our slacks on and get ready for the loco night that was sure to ensue.

After a makeshift dinner back at Mama Rosa’s, we met up with a huge group of API kids at cien montaditos and ventured off to more feria fun. There was a ridiculous amount of us, and a group of Scottie, Lucas, Lizzie, Kelsey and I sneakily branched off from the group and ended up having one of the most fun nights of my life.

The gang!

We went to meet up with Scott’s intercambio Ana outside of a giant private caseta and decided to see if we could get in.

Dancing with a spanish girl outside the tent!

Before arriving to the feria grounds, just like everyone else I had had a few drinks nad was feeling rather confident and in no mood so decided to test my Spanish abilities and persuasive skills in the language and just decided to approach the bouncer without hesitation. I told the guard that my buddy juan or jose or some generic Spanish name similar to that was inside and I needed to go meet up with him and that I couldn’t hear him on the phone so I needed to get in. After a couple minutes of back and forth dialogue I managed to get inside the tent. The only problem was that my other 4 friends were still outside, and I was in a private caseta where I knew not one other person. Upon entering, I was surprised to hear that it was American top 40 music playing opposed to Sevillana music, and was surrounded by a group of 17 year old Spanish girls and decided to start breaking it down with them as I walked into the tent. I explained my predicament, and they pointed me in the direction of an extremely large, and even friendlier bald man in his late 20s named Manuel I believe. After impressing him with some of my stellar dance moves, he agreed to get my friends in…and the party began!

Manuel – the guy that got everyone else in!

We ordered a few jarras of rebujito and hit the dance floor for a wild dance party with a bunch of Spaniards we had never met before. We learned and danced the interesting Spanish take on the Macarena, and we were having an absolute balst. About 30-45 minutes into our time in this tent, my new Spanish friends from the afternoon gave me a call and told me they wanted to meet up, so we decided to head over to the private caseta they were at. It turned out to be a great decision, as we were invited to this exceptionally elaborate caseta that was one of the nicer ones we had seen, and being that we were their cool new American friends they were showing us around and introducing us to all of their friends. We engaged in some of the more ridiculous dances I’ve ever seen or been a part of and had a great time. Lizzie and I even began to learn some Sevillana as some very friendly Spaniards attempted to teach us and I clumsily stumbled over myself the whole time.

All in all, the night was honestly one of the most fun I’d had in Sevilla and possibly my life. I will never forget learning that goofy Macarena and jumping up and down to Shout! with Scottie and it was an incredible bonding experience with my good buddies who I shared the incredible experience with.

Day 4

I just realized how ridiculously long this is getting, my apologies but I just like writing as much as I can about my experiences so that a year from now when I look back on my experiences, hopefully I can vividly recall all of the crazy amazing events which took place.

Anyhow, the fourth night of Feria was a relatively calm one (At least based on our ridiculous standards). I spent the day recovering from the madness that took place the day before, and packed my bags as the next day we were heading off for Lagos, Portugal. Anyhow, that night as a residecia most of us headed back down to the Feria grounds.

Decided to break the suit out on the last night

I managed to talk our way back into the tent we were in the first day, and got all of our friends and we all had a great night. I befriended a rathy hefty, and incredibly friendly Spanish women in her mid-30s and she spent the better part of 30 minutes teaching me Sevillana which was definitely one of the highlights of the night.

Dance teachers!

Following our time in the casetas, I headed off with Ollie and Kari to hit up my last ride during the Feria festivities. It was a ridiculous tall ride that had seating on it’s polar opposites, and spun rapidly in dizzying circles up and down. It was a blast, and as the ride ended we were sitting up at the top waiting for the people on the other side to unload and had the most incredible view of the Feria grounds and the city.

Crazy Ride

After the rides, we headed back home and the next morning we took off for our beach getaway to Lagos, Portugal.

Last night of Feria

We were fortunate enough to return form Lagos on Sunday night just in time to catch the midnight fireworks that marked the end of the fantastic feria festivities. Enrique, the host dad from upstairs unlocked the roof and so all the students in our residencia came up to the rooftop and were able to watch the amazing firework display. It was the perfect end to the perfect week.

Fireworks display!

All in all, Feria was absolutely fantastic and like most of my experience the past 4 months, like nothing I had ever seen before. If you are ever to visit Sevilla, although any time is a good time I would say coming during Feria would make for an exceptionally exceptional visit!

Cheers mates!

-Sahil

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