I must look suspicious as I walk around, glancing intently at doors, looking at signs I can't read, stopping to look at my phone, circling again. It's hard to know if I should knock, press the buzzer, if the door is open and I should just let myself in or if it was open, the door would be open. I check my watch again, it's definitely the right time. I give up and head to the next one. I try 4 different locations that day and have success only at one.
There, thankfully, the door is wide open and there is a clear sign above it not requiring any of my non-existent Spanish skills to translate. But that’s all the help I get. I enter a very unassuming courtyard and have no idea where to go next.
Terrified of wandering where I shouldn’t be, I slowly look around looking for clues. At the back of this courtyard is a dark alcove which, eliminating all other options, I slowly walk towards, eventually spying a dumb waiter. I exhale, happy to finally be in the right spot.
Again, thoughtfully, I have been provided with English notices. I scroll through the options, check the Spanish equivalent, make up my mind and ring the buzzer. A voice floats to me from beyond the wall, saying something in Spanish that I can't understand. But I don’t need to really. With my awful Spanish pronunciation, I ask for what I've come for and wait. There is a rustling from the other side and slowly the dumb waiter turns to reveal the packages. I place the payment in the dumb waiter and it turns again.
A huge smile plays on my lips. Success! For some reason I feel exhilarated.
To be honest, I've never felt like that buying cinnamon and chocolate shortbread biscuits before. But these biscuits are hand-made by the convents cloistered nuns. Between that and the whole honest and simple transaction, it makes them that little bit more special. It's such a charming tradition in Seville, that, if you know where to look and are there are the right time, you might be lucky enough to experience it for yourself. But I can help you there.
The best way to find the Real Monasterio De Santa Ines on Google is to locate Calle Doña María Coronel, 16, 41003 Sevilla, Spain, the entrance will be directly across the road.
Apparently there are other are convents where the nuns sell cakes, pastries biscuits etc, to support their living, but this convent was the only one I had any luck with. The opening hours of the Convent De Santa Ines are 9am-1pm and 4pm-6.30pm except Sundays and public holidays. Do stop by if you are ever in Seville.
What charming traditions have you come across?