Need Another Holiday: Andalucia: Don’t forget Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera was my first taste
of real Spain.

And it tasted like Sherry.

Until Jerez, I’d only ever seen sherry in a dusty bottle, at the back of my parents drinks
cabinet in our old family home. Occasionally that bottle was opened for a wee Christmas tipple.

Could
I have imagined where this drink had its origins? Not likely.

There
were also bottles of spirits with exotic
sounding names in that cupboard. These were
the drinks my childhood self imagined had come from far away places in my parents’
bid to bring the holiday home with them
. I always liked the idea of that;
being in your living room on a winter’s day and pouring yourself a glass of
something that could instantly transport you back to somewhere fabulous.

These days, that’s how I feel about
Sherry.

Visiting
Jerez was a happy accident brought about by my sister’s year abroad whilst
studying for a degree in Spanish. I remember her telling us where home for the
next eight months was to be, much to our confusion. We knew about the Costa Brava and the Balearics but I have to admit we
had no idea about Andalucia

A view of  Jerez

I
visited Jerez twice while my sister lived there. First, I stayed in a rented apartment in the gypsy quarter of town.
It was an atmospheric place to be, and I have a vivid memory of walking in the
late morning, hearing the sounds of a Spanish guitar and catching a glimpse of
a dancing silhouette through a curtain in one of the areas Flamenco schools.

This was the Spain I always wanted to
know
.

And
that recollection still gives me goosebumps.

On my second visit, I stayed in my
sister’s Spanish home and got to sample genuine local life, off the tourist
track.
It was an excellent week in
authentic Andalucia.

Jerez de la Frontera is the fifth
largest city in Andalucia and is well worth a visit should you be staying in
nearby Seville
(it’s a convenient bus
or train ride and a journey of about 55 miles). It’s rich in beautiful architecture
and has a wonderfully strong identity.  Influences
can be seen all around reflecting the city’s history as a town on the frontier
between the Moorish and Christian regions of the country. And the sweet smell of Sherry stimulates the senses as it wafts gently
around the city.

Things you should do in Jerez de la
Frontera:

  • Visit the 17th century Cathedral. A
    stunning fusion of architectural styles
  • See the Alcazar, a Moorish fortress with
    gorgeous gardens
  • Get a 360 degree
    view of the city from the Camera Obscura
  • Explore the Museum of Equestrian Arts where you
    can learn about the history of the famous Andalusian horses
  • Go Sherry tasting. Open your eyes to the
    many different varieties and find your favourite; from dry and pale, to rich and nutty. Visit a Bodega such as Sandeman for a tour and a lesson in the
    making of this Spanish wine

A Jerez memory, on my living room wall

Of
all the places I’ve visited, Jerez is one I long to go back to more than most.
Perhaps that’s because I never planned to go there in the first place, unlike Venice or Rome or Barcelona. It was such
a surprise discovery and a jewel that got hold of me in a way I’ll never forget.

There’s much more for me to say about
Andalucia, with posts to come about Seville and Cadiz too
. In the meantime, I hope I’ve got you interested in
Jerez de la Frontera. If you’ve already been there, please share your thoughts
with me…

We stayed in the self catering Riad on
our first trip and some of our party stayed in Hotel Casa Grande – I’d
recommend both; these opinions are purely my own