What is it that draws you to a place? It’s a good question that Cathy asks on her new blog, Wanderessence and one that I can’t resist answering. I’m going to start with my most recent visit to a ‘new’ place, Jerez de la Frontera, but I will be returning to this challenge.
Drama and passion are two of the things that brought me to Jerez. I’m sure I must have gypsy blood somewhere in the ancestry. The rhythmic stamp of that foot and the proud arch of the neck has me on the edge of my seat, breathing suspended, totally in the moment. Who wouldn’t travel for this? Andalusia Day in Jerez, during the Festival of Flamenco. All was quiet in the city as we arrived on this National Holiday. Until we stumbled, by accident, into the Centro Cultural Flamenco Don Antonio Chacon, in search of food. Five deep at the tiny bar, half of Jerez were assembled to watch the show, all chattering like magpies. A hush fell as the artist took to the stage. Looking out into the packed hall, he claimed his audience, all eyes upon him. And then… the passion ignites!
Our lovely host, Alejandro, at La Fonda Barranco, said that he had guests returning year on year to take part in the festival. And to sample the sherry, of course. No visit to Jerez would be complete without tasting two or three. Sherish (Xères) was the Arab name for this city, founded by the Phoenicians three thousand years ago. The warm climate, with both easterly and westerly winds and soil that was once covered by the ocean, produces sherry, a unique, inimitable wine. Manzanilla, Fino, Amontillado, Oloroso, Palo Cortado, sweet Pedro Ximenez… so many choices!
Something else unique to the city had drawn me here. The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art trains horses from the age of three, and riders, to perform advanced dressage and Spanish horse riding, country style. The culmination of their training is the show ‘How Andalusian Horses Dance’. Performed to classical music, and to a packed house, this is pure equestrian ballet. Beautifully groomed and beribboned, the horses demonstrate rhythmic trotting and the ‘Spanish walk’. They twirl, leap and balance on hind legs, all in complete unison with their rider.
Photographs, understandably, were not permitted but I can share a little of the atmosphere and excitement in this video, which shows the beautiful palace and grounds as well as the arena. I don’t think it would be out of place in a fairy tale.
This is only a small part of my Jerez story. There’s a mighty cathedral, beautiful churches, bodegas aplenty, distinctive architecture and wonderful food. I can’t wait to show you my sherry trifle! But first it’s your turn to share. What is it that draws you to a place? Cathy would love to know.