Jo’s Monday walk : A rainy day in Jerez

Today I’ve got my map out, and am trying to make some sense of my collection of photos of Jerez.  Not always easy when you’re a ‘follow your nose, snap everything that catches your eye’ sort of person.  We were staying very centrally, in the historic quarter, and initially I thought this a poor choice.  Especially as we rounded a corner, to a row of houses propped up with giant sleepers, almost next door to our hotel.  Just how safe, and how scenic, was our ‘close to the cathedral’ accommodation going to be?  But I needn’t have worried.  La Fonda Barranco was warm and welcoming, and perfectly placed.  History was right on the doorstep, even if some of it did need a little shoring up.

As always, it was a case of orientating oneself, something I’m not especially good at.  I’ve usually just about got the hang of a place when it’s time to move on.  But I can tell you that we had a superb Ayuntamiento, and the stunning cathedral at our backs, along with a small army of sherry bodegas.  A myriad of narrow streets encouraged wandering, with seemingly an equal number of churches.

The hues are all beige, citrus lemon and ochre.  In Plaza del Arroyo, just around the corner from our hotel, I was already dumbfounded by the architecture, a crick in my neck as I gazed upwards at the elaborate twists and curves.

You might remember from my previous Jerez post, we arrived on Andalusia Day.  Entry to the museums was free, and we sought shelter from wind and rain in the Flamenco Museum.  Filled with art and music, the arresting courtyard at its heart is a shining example of many that I saw in Jerez.

Back on the glistening streets, it wasn’t long before we had to seek shelter again, this time in a most convenient cake shop.  Naturally!

There are always compensations.  We were caught out in the rain numerous times, resulting in a second visit to that cake shop.  The skylight at the rear of the cafe was leaking copious quantities into strategically placed buckets.  Undaunted, we tackled more cake!

More wandering brought us to the Santiago quarter, well known for its flamenco.  The ravaged umbrella dangling from a dustbin summed the weather up succinctly.  The Clock Museum would have provided an hour’s dalliance, with multiple tick-tocking, but the timed visits were for mornings only.  We’d missed the last performance at 13.15 so, with a wistful look at the grounds, we settled for an atmospheric bodega nearby.  I did stop to wonder who kept the heroic looking warrior supplied with crocosmia.

I could quite easily have entitled this post ‘Lost in Jerez’.  We had a tendency to make a 20 minute walk take an hour, but Jerez is a muddle of fascinating, if sometimes scruffy, streets.  The weather definitely played its part.  A Lonely Planet recommend had us seeking sanctuary in the church of San Miguel, where the huge wooden doors rattled as the wind howled outside.  Built during the 15th and the 18th centuries, its altarpiece, the work of Martinez Montanes, is among the most important works of the Golden Age of Seville.

A drum roll now for a sequence of March Squares, for Becky.  They should take me to the end of her challenge.  The Tinotto de Cielo, with a nod to sherry trifle, was particularly delicious.  The interesting menu at La Cruz Blanco included very tasty shrimp fritters and seafood lasagne too.

I still have the cathedral and the beautiful Alcazar to show you but they’ll keep, for the moment.  It’s time to put the kettle on, so you can settle down to read this week’s shares.

Many thanks to all of you who read and contribute to Jo’s Monday walk  It’s very much appreciated.  You’re welcome to join me any time.


Almost certainly a step too far for most of you, but there are some beautiful photos here, from Arundhati :

How to turn One of Britain’s Best Walks into an Adventure

You don’t need photos so much as a little imagination, to walk alongside Susan :

Walking the “Sea Glass Festival”

And if you like a good time you can’t do better than to accompany Lady Lee :

Lovely weekend in Dusseldorf

Geoff has chosen to share a last bit of snow (I hope so!)  Keeping mine to myself :

Snow Doubt About It

We had joy, we had fun, we had… snowtime, with Drake :

Season in the sun

Eunice finds sunshine too.  And happy ducks!

A dog walk to Turton Tower

Smiling with Irene!  Reminds me of a Chuck Berry song, but that’s showing my age :

No place to go

Pauline is a lovely lady who likes to chat.  Wouldn’t you love to walk beside her!


And talking of lovely ladies, here’s another of my favourites.  Eloquence and history always mingle with Tish :

The Little Church By The Sea

Jude produces yet another garden from her bottomless archives!  Her flower galleries are exquisite :

Garden Portrait: Hergest Croft

And Carol dazzles with a beautiful display of abundance :

Two Gardens

That’s it for now!  I don’t have an Easter plan at present, and the weather looks uncertain at best.  Hopefully I’ll still be here with a Monday walk.






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.

Six word Saturday

Hot stuff, to keep you warm!

I’ve never been closer to the action and the evening was all a bit of a blur.  I’m sorry that my photos can’t do it better justice but I hope that they convey a little of the heat and passion in Jerez during the Flamenco Festival.  What a show!

Debbie’s sheep has lots of hair to keep it warm.  Join her with Six Words to sum up your week?