How to explain the experience of a place, the feeling of the air, the texture of the visual landscape, beyond landmarks. My travel sketchbook is where I contain my impressions, notes to myself to trigger my memory and inspire new palettes and designs.

I was struck in Seville, Spain by a calm idleness, perhaps brought on by the summer heat. A kind of bohemian minimalism infused the street style. Yet the elaborate gardens and designs contained in the Royal Castle (Alcázar), the ruffled dresses of the flamenco dancers displayed on posters and frequent shops filled with fans, feathers and jeweled adornments revealed its fanciful soul.

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Colors burst suddenly out of dusty neutrals, burnt reds, bright reds, a swatch of true black, deep olive, rich, middle brown.

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The Madonna and the flamenco dancer prevail over the city. Churches celebrate the holy mother, who in pre-Christian times would be called a goddess. Elaborate dresses and gems adorn her, flowers at her feet and her head always wreathed in a crown or draped with a lacy veil.

The artful dancer is equally dressed up, though she may flirtatiously peek her eyes from under a fan, or give a sidelong glance in your direction. She is a goddess in her own right. Her leg might kick through her rustling skirts, and flowers are in her hair and on her wrists. Her eyes flutter at you and not at heaven.

Here are some of my Seville highlights:

Arte y Sabordelicious, thoughtful – I almost got their gazpacho recipe out of the waiter.
Café Piola: the go-to place for morning coffee and to set your day’s vibe right. The toasted rye bread is called centeno.
Madonna with the Tears of Diamonds
El Corte Ingles: air conditioning and department store-style glorious shopping, not exactly Bergdorfs or Le Bon Marché, but good enough!  We did spot the Barbie of Seville in the toy section.

When the lovely friends who hosted us return from their summer-long sojourn there, I will add their recommendations below!