Yes folks, I’ve been holding off now for quite some time but it is now time to take this RUMBLE towards it’s final, epic end. And that means it’s semi-finals time! Only three more Rumbles to crown the champion, the destinations today are the incredible capital of the United Kingdom, home to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth and the birth place of Doctor Who.
Interestingly – probably only to me – the second destination for today, the opponent, the challenger if you like, has ALSO seen some Doctor Who action when in 1984 they shot a lot of location scenes there for ‘The Two Doctors’, in which the Sixth Doctor Colin Baker teamed up with the Second Doctor Patrick Troughton for a memorable tussle with the Sontarans. Even one of the cities in the second semi-final has had Doctor Who shot there so if you think there’s a reason these three cities have all made it through to the semis, well, it has nothing to do with Doctor Who!
So now we are down to the semi-finals, we need to judge carefully and I think, with clear criteria which in all fairness to me, we really haven’t had previously. Let’s take into consideration – Visitability – how easy is it to get there (by various methods) and how easy is it to get around? Climate – How much of the year sees decent weather? Not too cold or hot, not too wet either, too humid or too dry. Accommodation Options – how well is the city served in budget, mid-range and high end accommodation options and do they represent value for money? Food Options – again, what is available? How representative of the cuisine of said country AND how many choices to eat out are there? And is it reasonably priced? Sight-Seeing – How much is there to see? In general are things not as good as they are made out to be, the same or better? And do you pay a fair and reasonable price to see/visit them? Finally, Entertainment – I’m not a huge fan of going out every night and discovering bars and the like, but what options are available, do they represent value for money, and is it a lively scene overall?
So, five categories to compare, we will do a mark out of ten for each category on each city, and the final tally out of 50 will decide which of these two incredible cities, London and Seville if you’ve forgotten since the top of the post, will be the FIRST CITY to reach the City Rumble GRAND FINAL! Perhaps we should stand for the national anthems of the United Kingdom and Spain! ‘God Save Our….’ Perhaps not. Let’s just GET READY TO RUMBLE!
I think I may have just created a brand new word! Go me! So, how are these two cities to visit, to get to, to explore? Well let’s start with Seville.
Although it’s not the biggest city in Spain, it is the capital of Andalucía, and has an international airport a 30 ish Euro taxi ride from the centre of town. Otherwise there is a bus but I don’t think it operates around the clock. Buses are the main mode of transport in and around Seville, more so in the more modern parts of the city. I found them to be okay but not exactly frequent and had a bit of a wait a couple of times when needing to catch a bus.
Also there is a large train station which takes about 20 minutes by bus to get to – the Old City though really only has the one tram, otherwise we are talking about using you feet. Having said that, if you’re sticking to the Old Town, well, your feet will probably get you everywhere you need to go. And it is a good city for walking.
The rail network connects Seville with many other places in Spain, and from Madrid and Barcelona you also have high-speed rail connections. For example, Barcelona is around 10 – 12 hours by regular train, but 5.5 hours by high speed rail. Much more expensive of course, but comfortable and fast. All in for Seville it’s a pretty well connected place, easy to get around, and has a decent if dated international airport. 8/10
London on the other hand IS the biggest city in the UK, IS the capital and as such you can fly into place via a choice of airports, the biggest being Heathrow, one of the biggest airports in the world. Can’t say British airports are fun experiences, they are always packed for starters except for, you know, the time since March 2020 for some reason.
Getting in from the airports – well let’s take Heathrow as the main case – isn’t too bad, and your best option is the train. Specifically, although it’s much more expensive than the regular Tube, the Heathrow Express which I think gets you to King’s Cross or Paddington in 15-20 minutes. First time I went I took the Tube/Underground and that took over an hour.
The Tube is your principle way for getting around London. It’s an extremely comprehensive network and it’s also iconic. It’s not always very comfortable and the underground stations are not always easy to get to, but it does the job. Could do with some decent air conditioning. You also have the double decker buses, which I really much take one day. Walking – it’s a big place, so to cover it in any meaningful way probably means you’ll need public transport at some point.
London has a number of major train stations, which will take you to trains that service much of the UK. Routes seem to always require changes though! Also, the Eurostar links London via the Chunnel to the rest of Europe from St Pancras International Train Station. Direct trains to Belgium and Paris and perhaps other destinations? It’s a wonderful experience even if the seats afford little legroom and the check in experience can be slow and painful. But the access to a fast train to these places makes it a faster option than flying often when you factor in times to and from airports at both ends.
Score – 7.5/10
So let’s go London first. Look I want to say that when I have visited London in the Summer it has always been hot. I feel I have lucky, I must be honest, but in 1999 whilst Edinburgh was experiencing daily highs of 12 degrees Celsius, London was pushing 30 every day. However, it’s an unpleasant heat to say the least. London is best in the low-20s, which is pretty much the best temperature to visit any place really.
Outside of Summer, London can be dreary, cloud covered and depressing in a way – except that I love London so that gets me by. The dreariness is almost part of the appeal! At least, to my knowledge, you don’t really get snow in London (well, it’s rare). Snow in winter might be beautiful though. But when it warms up it turns to sludge! Yikes!
Score – 5/10
Seville, I’m pretty confident, sees no snow at all. I went in early December 2019 and the weather was around 18 degrees and, bar one day, sunny with barely a cloud to be seen. It’s perfect really! This is the sort of weather I like, maybe a couple of degrees warmer as nights get really cold, but I couldn’t have asked for better weather, and the skies made for great photos too.
The summer however I would avoid like the plague, with temperatures well into the 40s which does nothing for me except make me sweat and drink loads of water and if I’m not careful, turn red. So this pretty much writes off late-May to mid-September at the very least. But some people, mad dogs and Englishmen mostly, love this kind of weather.
Score – 7/10
London, I have found, has plenty of places to stay. I don’t think I’ve ever paid less than about 20 pounds for a dorm bed though, and I can’t say the hostels I’ve tried were clean or comfortable which was disappointing to say the least. In 2011 I went up to around 35 pounds a night for a very small room, albeit with a TV and tiny tiny bathroom. That’s over $60AUD. And no where near the centre. It’s not a place to find a cheap bed.
I did Air BnB in 2017, a small one person place that wasn’t too badly positioned with a kitchen. Had a few issues but wasn’t too bad, around $100AUD a night, around 60 pounds at the time. But honestly I think you need to pay more than I ever have to have a nice, well-located bed in this city. Maybe next time I will put some money aside to try out something more upmarket.
Score – 4/10
Seville on the other hand, well I only stayed in one place, it was a 3-star affair and around the $100AUD mark again (65 Euros or so at the time). It was lovely, spotlessly clean, and I found many places of similar price that looked similar. So it’s harder for me to score, but there’s a fair bit of competition in Seville. I can’t speak to the real budget options, but a quick search reveals a lot of different possibilities all which look very clean.
Score – 7/10
I can’t confess to really eating out much in London. I have been there on tight budgets which has meant fast food and self catering. But let’s be honest, you can get almost any cuisine in London that your heart, and indeed stomach, might desire! From great Indian food, to food from all over the world! Michelin star restaurants, Gordon Ramsey, to the old reliable pub meal. London has it all, even if British ‘food’ is an oxymoron.
Seville, well, I liked what I had to eat there. Nothing blew me away, I found the tapas I had there okay, better than Barcelona but the best Tapas I ever have had was in Porto, Portugal. Ate at a nice place that served mainly meat not far from the Alcazar Palace. It’s not cheap to eat out in Seville, but it’s cheaper than both Barcelona, and London. The food was good, without being excellent, and a lot of the places in the Old City really are serving very similar fare to all the tourists. Which is what happens. Variety-wise, probably lacking a bit in Seville. Although most cities in Europe have a place where you can get a kebab!
Score – 7/10
London has SO MUCH to see, and experience. There are plenty of free options if you like parks or walking along the Thames, or just visiting iconic places like, oh I don’t know, the old BBC TV Centre for a photo of where they used to make Doctor Who 😉
But on sheer volume of things to see and do London has most of the world’s cities covered I guess. Visit Hyde Park, or Buckingham Palace for example, or Wembley Stadium or Lord’s if you like iconic sports’ grounds. You have Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, The Tower of London and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.
Museums are aplenty too, and the British Museum is FREE as far as entry goes. The National Portrait Galley I think is free also. Spend time in iconic places like Trafalgar Square, or take a boat along the Thames to Greenwich. Honestly, you could lose yourself in London for weeks and not be sorry about it!
On the flipside, well, the prices when you DO need to pay entry – places like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey – well, they are STEEP. It’s generally over 20 pounds to most of the main attractions that require payment.
Score – 8/10
Seville on the other hand, well I enjoyed it. The Alcazar Palace is probably the highlight for me, along with the Plaza de Toros, the Bullring where you can get a tour which is cool. The Seville Cathedral is the largest Catholic cathedral, I think, in the world. Great views from the tower of the city below. Oh the incredible Plaza d’Espana is also a must visit in Seville!
Outside these two there is plenty to see, historic houses and the Flamenco Museum on the top of the list. There are also the ruins of an old citadel which were unearthed near the river you can visit. But outside the top two in Seville, nothing really matches the scale of the things to see in London, or just how iconic the place is. Prices are cheaper, as you’d expect, Alcazar for example is only 12.5 Euro to enter.
Score – 6.5/10
Seville has its entertainment options, but my score is probably going to rest here on the fact that the biggest one is probably bull fighting, oh which I am not a fan. Flamenco shows and music can be found around town, and the Flamenco Museum has regular performances too. If you are in Seville and haven’t seen Flamenco, you shouldn’t miss it!
Nightclubs? Well, outside the Old City. Plenty of small bars and restaurants in the old city.
Score – 7/10
London is brilliant for entertainment. From buskers to a performance at the Royal Albert Hall. For me the chance to see plays and musicals, the choice that you have when it comes to the West End, is what makes London just BRILLIANT for entertainment. And there are bars aplenty as well, and of course there are more nightclubs than I would ever care to count. It’s really a big difference here between the two cities because of the options! Then there’s the London Philharmonic Orchestra if that’s you scene. It’s a big name city which has seen Wembley sell out for Queen (for example) and every other huge act in the world. Including, I should mention, the Spice Girls.
Score – 10/10
The Final Verdict
Seville – 42.5/60
London – 43.5/60
Wowsers! London has snuck home by a SOLITARY POINT! Amazing! I didn’t really know who was ahead before I added them up, and in the semi-finals it is all about the numbers! A very honourable defeat to Seville there, who nearly brought it home! London is into the GRAND FINAL. So then, next week it is down to Tokyo and New York City to see which one joins London in said final! It’s going to be bigger than the Big Banana!
Thanks for reading, take care – May the Journey Never End!