Walking through the center of Sevilla gives you the opportunity
to see a lot of different people. Aside from the average
city-dweller, there are types you'll become accustomed to
seeing the longer you live in Seville. The folks range from
entertaining to dangerous, amusing to annoying and useful
I've tried not to pass too much judgment on the various
types, but some you need to be warned about. As well, I've
tried not to offend anyone with my descriptions, keeping
them as neutral as possible considering the circumstances.
The types you'll see:
Lottery ticket salesmen (ONCE)
During the day you can't move through the center or sit in
a bar too long before seeing one of these folks. On Tetuan
or Sierpes you're bound to hear their sales pitch - "el
diecenueve! el diecenueve!" or whatever number they have
- as they sell their daily tickets. ONCE was initially set-up
to help the blind and others with disabilities. While still
serving that purpose it's grown into a giant corporation,
holding significant shares in several radio and television
stations, as well as other businesses.
Oompa Loompas the little orange men...
As with the above, you can't pass through the center late
at night without seeing the "little orange men"
cleaning the streets. Some of them are big, too. But with
their orange suits and brooms they have a striking resemblance
to the guys from Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory. Not every
city in Spain has Oompa Loompas: some cities have another
color for their suits.
These are often seen in the main shopping district where there
is good foot traffic. Sometimes they pop up at Feria or other
places. Most of these folks, like the silver-painted cowboy
who is a common site these days, go to elaborate lengths for
their costumes. They stand completely still until you throw
some change in the hat in front of them, which provokes some
kind of movement. My brother-in-law noticed a fellow throw 1 centimo in the hat, for which he got a response
of a middle finger from the statue.
Not too many around but from time to time I an older fellow
with a little hair, a red nose and all the paint. Working
with dogs, musical instruments or balloons; often times in
tandem and sometimes solo I've seen these guys close to La
Campana, looking for children with parents willing to part
with a little change.
I don't know whether to laugh or cry for the little dogs,
but it seems like they're having fun. Generally you'll see
an older fellow playing a trumpet while dogs in dirty flamenco
dresses dance around on two feet in circles. A woman is there
with them only for the purpose of asking for money. These
folks don't show up often in the center, and recently the
dogs have turned into one dog, and the flamenco dress is no
longer there. In fact, instead of dancing they simply pull
the one dog up by his leash and he stands there on two feet.
Musicians: talented groups
These can be quite good, from a 4 piece string band, to the
commonly found Ecuadorian flute band. Sometimes in Plaza Salvador
on Sunday's you'll see a wired group, playing covers of Jarabe
de Palo and other groups. Most often you'll find them in the
main shopping district of Sierpes and Tetuan, where you'll
see groups of people who have stopped to listen. If you stop
you should throw them some change, but it's not obligatory.
Musicians: The less talented groups
These are people who rarely produce a crowd, rather people
try and make their way around the front person with a basket
or hat asking for money. Showing up anywhere from Sierpes
and Tetuan or some of the smaller shopping streets towards
Musicians: Solo performers
There's a great variety of these people: guitar, violin, horn,
accordion, keyboard, even a fellow recently with a didgeridoo.
The same as they are everywhere - with a hat or instrument
case in front for you to throw money in as you walk by. The
quality of the performance tends to vary more than the groups
Musicians: Restaurant "performers"
These are separated from the above two, and may really belong
in the "Just cash, thanks" category below. But they
do try and perform. Often the worst musicians of the bunch
I've covered and generally guitar players (sometimes with
only 3 strings). They play a song, or two if you're unlucky,
next to an outside cafe or restaurant and then go table to
table asking for money. A few variation son the types are
women (or a woman) who sings and dances a little flamenco,
or the guys who simply clap while singing off-key.
Spontaneous Street Vendors
You'll see these on Calles Tetuan and Sierpes or next to Nervión
Plaza. They lay out a blanket and sell crafts and clothing
from Latin America or Africa, as well as pirated CD's and
DVD's. Most often immigrants here illegally, but not always.
You'll see them quickly pick up their merchandise and run
off once the police are near.
Roses and jasmine are the most likely types, these flower-pushers
enter into bars or hit the outdoor cafes. If you're sitting
with your girlfriend they'll hit you up first, but don't shy
away from the groups.
During the winter time there's nothing like chestnuts roasting
on an open fire. These
are sold from carts where they roast the chestnuts in front
of you and then wrap up a bunch in a paper cone for you to
munch in the street.
Whether you have a pair of tennis shoes are a nice pair of
loafers they may be sitting ducks. Around the center from
time to time these guys are looking
A dying breed,I have not seen these folks in a long time. Generally these were older men with a few cartons of cigarettes in a
bag, most often selling Winston cigarettes from Morocco
where the tobacco is said to be better than the Spanish variety.
Many times they would refer to it as American tobacco. You'd hear
their calls from the street: "Ween-stone, Ween-stone".
They are always around, but even more so during Semana Santa,
late at night near an outdoor bar or in a plaza during a weekend
day. They typically sell candy, chips, soda and a few games
for the kids.
You may notice some fellow near El Corte Inglés selling
what looks like a bunch of twigs bundled up. This is regaliz the natural licorice. You can chew on the stick to produce
the same flavor as the candy.
Los Gorrillas (Street Parkers)
Not gorillas, but gorrillas, these are the people
likely without a job who help anyone driving by to park their
car. They're very territorial - they don't just decide to
set up shop on any old street. Whether or not you need a parking
space they'll point one out as you pass by. If you choose
to park you are choosing their service and their help. Expect
a problem if you don't offer them some change, but you don't
have to offer them much. Better to pay once you park rather
than risk a problem.
My personal favorite is the knife-sharpener who roams the
streets maybe once a week. Pushing a moto and playing
a few notes on a small flute-like instrument as his call to
the people who may need his services. Restaurants and or individuals
who need their kitchen knives sharpened come out to the street.
The fellow has a grinding wheel attached to his moto which spins faster as he revs up the engine. He'll do the
work right there in the street.
Chatarero (junk vendors)
Hauling little carts through the streets with mostly junk
but a few possible antiques you can chose to sell or buy something
as they pass buy. You'll hear their shouts of se compra
y se vende muebles antiguos!
Most often I see a fellow near Plaza Salvador or close to
Sierpes, but they pop up everywhere in the center. The main
thing you can buy is the incense they use during Semana Santa
or in the churches. They burn it in a little clay pot and
you'll no doubt smell it in the streets before you see the
As you leave the center and make your way out of town (or
into the neighborhoods further out) you may see a fellow or
two selling travel packs of tissues at a stop light. I've
never figured this one out, but apparently they do some business
as they've been doing it for years now. Once you stop they'll
walk up and down the lane of parked cars. They aren't doing
a hard sell - if you don't need them they keep going to the
Gitanas at the Cathedral
Ok, this I think is the worst bunch. They prey on tourists
and aren't looking for petty change. Recently they've been
on Avenida de constitución between the Cathedral and
Archivo de Indias. They'll try and hand you a twig of Rosemary
- DO NOT TAKE IT! Once you've accepted something they'll try
to read your palm. Seems cute, doesn't it? It is until they
ask you for 30 or 40 Euros! They may ask for a little less
but they may also ask for more. This is no "change in
your pocket" type of transaction. And if you say you
don't have anything they'll get upset, maybe ask you to go
to the ATM and withdraw the money. You'll have a very hard
time getting away from the situation once you've accepted
anything from them, so just keep walking by and don't even
make eye contact.
There are some legitimate ones out there asking for money
for a real charity. Others are so aggressive that you know
something's wrong. They may try to put a sticker on you (much
like the "I gave blood today" ones you'll see in
the U.S.) before you donate any money. They may put themselves
in front of you and where you want to go. Others simply won't
leave you alone until you make it clear you don't have any
money or chose not to "donate" to their cause. They
are almost always moving around Puerta de Jerez as you make
your way to the Torre del Oro. If not there you'll find them
near the Cathedral on the Avenida de constitución side.
Charity Change Can Shakers
Entering in most churches (aside from the Cathedral) there
may be a man or woman standing next to the door. A lot of
times they'll hold the door open for you as you go in, and
when you come out hit you up for money. They aren't aggressive
and they do hold the door open for you. I see the
same guy every day who works two churches down the street
from our house.
These range from the average person roaming in a street and
asking each person for money to the folks that put themselves
in the middle of the street on a piece of cardboard with a
box for you to throw money into. Some will plead for money
while others may remain silent. Some are very worthy of a
little change while others you'll need to judge for yourself.
Hitting up the tables of outdoor restaurants and cafes they
simply move from table to table asking for a bit of change.
It may take a few times of you saying no to get them to go
One of the worst scams of the bunch, I think. Did you know
that there are 50-100 folks in Sevilla with "4 brothers
and sisters in Romania who don't have enough to eat, someone
in the hospital, no place to live, and..." Well, I won't
go into it too much but before the story starts to hit your
soft side know that these folks all have the same exact message printed out which they hand to you. They go into
bars and restaurants and leave the note and a small lighter
on your table. Then they come back and ask for money. As with
others in this category it may take a few times of you saying
no to get rid of them.
Romanian Lighter Scams
These people could go under the solo musicians category but
I don't think they're putting much into their musical skills.
These aren't the flowered dress variety you may see in other
parts. I hate to say it but most of these folks are just downright
dirty - looks like they haven't showered in weeks or months.
Usually accompanied by a pack of un bathed dogs you tend to
see them in groups. Often times harmless, while in the streets
they may play the recorder while another asks for money.