Oh my! Well, today’s quarter final of City Rumble, is the mismatch of the semis – it is Seville, in the south of Spain, and Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh. Dhaka won through to the quarters in the upset of the entire City Rumble season I would have to say, when it beat Washington DC, mostly on sentiment I must be honest. But now Dhaka has to stand up and face Seville, the capital of the beautiful region of Andalucía in the south of Spain.
So yes, it’s another case of two cities that really don’t lend themselves to comparison. But compare them I MUST! The chaos and noise of Dhaka, a city that in its greater area has nearly 22 million people. A city that experiences heat and floods, monsoons and more. Where auto-rickshaws zoom around the streets in their absolute thousands, then screech into a main road and standstill for what feels like an eternity. A place where cricket is the king sport, a city which is the seat of Bangladeshi independence from Pakistan, an independence forged with bloodshed.
I have to compare this incredible city to a city in Europe which I fell in love with almost instantaneously when I visited 2019, 15 years more recently since my last visit to Dhaka. A city that, like Dhaka’s older buildings (which can be hard to find), has a definite Islamic influence in its buildings and vistas. A city which more and more people are discovering and loving. A brilliant destination with an old town, a maze of streets and so much more. Oh, and a city which is the final resting place of Christopher Columbus!
So just how do these two cities compare? What elements should we compare then with? Cleanliness? Public transport? Air quality? Number of sights? How interesting are the sights? Ease to get around? Walkability? On so many accounts the winner would be clearly and easily Seville. However, it’s just not that easy. Because there’s so much more to a city for me than basically how good is it for your average tourist? And then, the idea of City Rumble is to judge cities on how much they worth visiting for the international traveller.
Look, so you go to a city and you want to be comfortable, things are easy to navigate, there’s loads of others visiting too so the tourist infrastructure is good and you know how when you pay for things like a taxi ride that you’re paying what you’re supposed to pay. And again, Seville has it over Dhaka in spades. BUT… how did Dhaka make it this far down the road? Well, partly because it’s ME who is writing these blogs and deciding who I think the winner is. And in part of it sentiment. And for me Dhaka holds a sentimental place in my heart – despite it being so long since I was last there (and I hope to get back maybe next year or the one after).
So what is it about Dhaka that brings the sentiment? Well, it’s the people, of course. I first visited with a university group, which was a great opportunity to meet people and the staff at the guest house we stayed at – the Kushiara Guest House, which sadly I don’t think is open any more because when I try to internet search for it I simply can’t find it these days, well the staff were ultra friendly and indeed protective of us. And we went to the cricket one night with a couple of them, and then I returned two years later and it was like a long overdue homecoming! And I knew a couple of other people from around Dhaka too and it was just fantastic to connect and then reconnect and yeah, what else can I say?
I mean, Seville doesn’t have a cricket stadium but she does have a bull fighting ring! And that is very cool. What else is cool? The houses are cool, you can visit so many historic houses like the Casa de Pilatos and see how people used to live. It has an amazing cathedral, one of the biggest in the entire world. With incredible views of the city.
There is a museum to flamenco dancing which is pretty unique and of course you can even see a flamenco performance there as well. And then there’s the Alcazar Palace, this incredible palace with Islamic influences and beautiful courtyards, gardens…. It’s just breathtaking.
There are Roman ruins and great food, much better in my opinion than the food in Barcelona. And just walking around the city is a pleasure – and also it’s easy to get lost with all the alleyways and the like, but that’s half the fun too! And it does have a soul, a pulse. It’s completely different to Dhaka, which has a heart that beats and beats loudly. But it is there and it’s quite tangible. And it’s also a bit of a hidden gem, not necessarily the first place people decide to go when they head to Spain.
And that’s why, at the end of the day, despite Dhaka’s big heart, the win goes to Seville. Because as much as I love Dhaka, if I had a choice of plane tickets (and they both cost the same, which they wouldn’t lol), I would choose to revisit Seville. Probably. It’s actually a pretty close call because it’s been a lot longer since I’ve been to Bangladesh and, well, absence makes the heart grow fonder as they say!
What do you think? This puts Seville into the final four and this means that next round, in the semi-finals, we have two cities locked in and ready to do battle with London and Seville, two of my favourite European cities, going head to head! It’s certainly heating up to boiling point now and by the end of the year, we will have a winner. And perhaps the last ever City Rumble – certainly the last for a long long time!
Thanks for popping by as always. Take care wherever you may be, and May the Journey Never End!