'I visited the hottest city in Europe and became nocturnal to survive the temperatures' Southshorehealth

It was 9pm when we left our rented apartment on the first full day of our holiday in southern Spain.

Having flown out the evening prior in the midst of torrential rain, I was now wearing shorts, a t-shirt and sandals.

The sun had long sunk behind the cityscape but it was still nearly seven degrees warmer than the hottest day in England of 2023.

It was also the first time the temperature had dipped below 40C since midday. 

In 39C, myself and my partner ventured into the claustrophobic streets of Seville – wildly recognised as the hottest city in Europe.

When we told our friends we were going to the infamous Andalusian capital, we were handed warnings before recommendations.

August was not the time to go to Seville, they said. Why don’t you try April or May? Everything is already booked, we would respond. And it’s July?

Then, as an African heatwave swept through southern Europe, this publication asked me to write a story about rising temperatures across the region, not knowing that my arrival in the city which is “turning into a desert” was imminent.

Scrolling through Twitter (this was before the peculiar “X” rebrand) looking for interviewees already in the city, I saw a picture of one man profusely sweating on his sofa as a small fan blew into his face. “Seville heat is hell,” the caption read.

Spotting this picture was my first taste of what Seville had in store for us.

Leaving our apartment at 9pm on that first full day, I realised the strange sweating man on the internet had a point.

Buried beneath the Sierra Norte mountain range, which traps the African winds blowing up from northern regions of the continent, the “Iberian Oven” was excruciatingly hot long after the sun had set.

The next evening, we crossed paths with a young English mother whose child was swimming in the shared pool outside our apartment.

Clinging to the shade provided by the nearby veranda, it was her final day of a week-long holiday. “I have just slept all day,” she said. “What else can you do in this heat?”

“Quite,” we replied, drinking lukewarm glasses of rose only recently retrieved from the fridge. Even a six-hour siesta cannot cure the British of their penchant for complaining.

But at dinner later that day, in measly 38C weather, we resolved not to succumb to the same fate as this travailed traveller of Seville past.

Over a surprisingly astonishing meal – I was unaware of the city’s exceptional cuisine until then – myself and my partner agreed to abandon our English eccentricities of “early to bed, early to rise” and slip into Spanish nocturnality.

Or at least we tried.

For the remainder of our holiday, we woke up as late as possible, had a siesta every late afternoon, as on one day it hit 45C, and ate far beyond the normal hours for “tea”.

Soon enough, with the exception of the 90 minutes spent watching Spain make light work of the Lionesses in the World Cup final, we found our Andalusian nirvana.

We ate late and long: bloody Gazpacho, Paella, Iberian pork, the tastiest cheesecake ever baked (the menu described it as muy cremosa); and we drank tinto de verano for hours afterwards.

After our Spanish nap on our final day, waking up just after 4pm, I admitted to my partner that I may for once actually feel “relaxed”.

“Me too,” she said, smiling. “I just wish it wasn’t so bloody hot.”

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