Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

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.

84 comments

  1. What a great post. I’d love to see flamenco in Jerez. I’m a huge fan and watch it a lot in Seville. I’ve actually written a novel set in a flamenco world, and in the sequel Jerez appears.

    Have you seen flamenco in Seville?

    Thanks for a great post.

    Barry O’Leary

    1. I follow your newsletter, Barry, so I know about the book. It sounds good and I do keep meaning to seek it out. Thanks a lot 🙂 🙂 One of these days we’ll weekend in Seville and catch some flamenco there.

  2. All those different sherries Jo – I must go here and sample them!! I’m sure we must be drawn to different places because of our DNA – it must be in our blood somewhere (we have all had our DNA done via Ancestry very interesting!). It must be amazing to watch a flamenco performance – sounds like you had a lot of fun! 🙂

    1. We have a lovely bottle of Pedro Ximenez waiting in a cupboard for our return. 🙂 🙂 (we travel hand luggage so it couldn’t come ‘home’)

  3. I think we reach the places we are drawn to in our heart and mind. You obviously found the place you needed to. I loved reading about it – the dancing, the “horsing” around. The art. Me? I’m drawn to places that are quiet, sun-filled, warm, and whose atmosphere/environment has a soft rhythmic sound – perhaps the swishing of birds’ wings, or the lifting of flowers’ blooms as a bee sucks on the pollen.

    1. Sounds idyllic in this harum scarum world. 🙂 🙂 The wind is currently whistling around and disturbing the peace. Thank you for your lovely company.

  4. The horses in the video are incredible, imagine being able to ride them. Oh but you’re such a tease, I was expecting dance photos, maybe there’s some to come? I assume you knew about the festival, I’d love to see flamenco. In Barcelona there’s a place where you can see performances, but I thought it would be the put on for tourist type, so I didn’t go. You lucky girl will have seen the real thing. x:-)x

    1. Photos of the horses dancing you mean? I only have 2 sneaky ones because photos weren’t allowed. I’ve shared most of my flamenco dancing photos already. I thought the festival ended at the weekend so I was chuffed to be in the thick of it xxx

  5. Oh Jo, all I can say is ‘Ole’!! I yearn, absolutely yearn, to watch real proper flamenco dancing. I had a pair of wooden castanettes (spelled wrong, I’m sure, sorry!) I loved dancing around to when I was a kid. Your joy oozes from this post, loved joining you albeit vicariously 🙂

    1. Hello darlin! 🙂 🙂 Good to have you around. The evening show we went to was quite amusing. We were so close we were almost on the stage and Mick was horrified he was going to be handed castanets and asked to join in. 🙂 🙂

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