Have you ever encountered the feeling of ‘home’ in a completely new place? Few places can evoke that feeling, but it’s unmistakable when it happens. Enter, Seville.
Maybe it was the constant movement and bustle of the previous two weeks travelling through Spain. But when we drove into Seville, after driving laps in the area of our AirBnb trying desperately to find free parking, something just clicked. We instantly relaxed into the type of relaxation you generally only get on a stay-cation, when you’re just comfortable in your environment and nothing is expected of you.
This isn’t the first time this has happened to me. Havana had the same effect on me, despite it being one of the first places I travelled alone (or maybe that’s why…). For my husband, parts of Greece seem to do it, and is one reason he never tires of going back. I wonder if that feeling is part of the reason I’m so drawn to travel, the exhilaration of a new place coupled with the comfort of feeling at home. Logically, I just wouldn’t think that you could have this kind of comfort in a completely new place, especially one where you don’t speak the local language (at least not well).
In Seville, I felt safe. I didn’t feel like a tourist; I didn’t have the same drive to see all the sights and make sure I went to the best restaurants for fear that I’d never be back, since a part of me felt certain that I would return. I found I took fewer photos, instead just easing into the place. My husband and I found ourselves talking about what it would be like to live there.
Seville is known for being a warm city, in every sense of the word. Sevillanos have an unmatched sense of pride in their hometown, and are happy to share it. When the Sevilla FC won a match, the excitement poured out into the street and it was impossible not to get carried away in the celebrations. It’s also a sexy city. I don’t know whether it’s all the flamenco, or the climate, or what, but everyone there is beautiful and happy in a way that makes you feel more beautiful and happy just being near it.
I found myself googling the question, “Why do some places just feel like home?” The search results were split between bloggers describing the feeling and slightly more scholarly sources discussing things like place attachment, the emotional bond that a person forms with a place. All of the blogs I came across described the same type of sensation: an inexplicable connection to the environment and people that puts them at ease. The research admits that the sensation is still pretty poorly understood, but discusses the same connection, insisting that this is heightened in environments similar to one’s actual home, either geographically or culturally. The only geographic resemblance that comes to mind in my case is the river that runs through the city and, maybe, that it didn’t have as much of a big city feel as, say, Barcelona or Madrid. The research also, unsurprisingly, discusses the importance of memory formation, personal experiences, and other things that generally take time in a place to help establish it as ‘home’. Obviously, I didn’t have any memories of Seville when we first arrived, but the ones I left with are of the quality of the light, the heat, the open space of the plazas and the areas near the river contrasted with the narrow and winding alleyways. Of everyone walking their dogs and introducing them to the other dogs they met along the way. People biking everywhere and the smell of orange trees. A vaguely hipster vibe everywhere we went, which I’ll admit, is a vibe I’m drawn to. The sites we saw were beautiful, but the happiest moments were getting ice cream around the corner from our apartment, or sitting on a patio by the river watching kittens.
I don’t know if I’ve gained any more insight on this strange homey feeling, but just thinking about it makes me want to hop the next plane back to Seville to see if it’s there, waiting for me.
To see more of beautiful Sevilla, see my Postcards.