My friend Larraine and I arrived in Jerez on a beautiful, sunny, blue sky morning. How we actually managed to meet up in Seville is beyond belief, but we did in spite of my not quite getting the right bus stop and with very limited Spanish (ola, being about as good as it got). What always makes me laugh when I get to Europe is how I immediately begin speaking fairly fluent French and it was this that got me by with 2 police people who pointed me in what they thought might be the right direction. And eventually, as we were both wandering about in the vicinity of the station, we saw each other across a crowded concourse or something like that. Anyway, we arrived.
We were staying in L's sister's apartment, which was absolutely gorgeous. Beautiful views across the city and a roof top to sit in the sun and read. There was one tiny hitch and that is that the phone L's sister had lent her didn't have any battery or any money on it. L looked for the battery charger but swore she couldn't find one to fit, so we used my phone to text L's other sister, Annie, who lives in Jerez with her partner, Lesley. L and I then trotted off to have something to eat and drink at a local place and meet up with Annie. All good so far, but then Annie didn't turn up. We ate and drank some more and then we saw Annie walking down the street. Apparently she'd been waiting at another cafe!
Off we went to the phone shop where L spent 8 Euros on a new charger and then we met up with Annie's partner Lesley and, with promises of getting together later that night, we went off for a quick shop for supplies and then back to the apartment to charge the phone.
By 9.30 my eyes were closing (I had been up since 3.45 am) so we excused ourselves from socialising and stayed in and played Scrabble (I won) and drank a glass or two of vino and then it was bed. Was I ever grateful for that.
Day 2: An afternoon at the Bodegas
We got up and realised the phone hadn't charged. The new charger didn't seem to be working. Off we trotted back to the phone shop, where the guy blushingly admitted that they'd given L the wrong cable as the one she'd bought fitted into the headphone socket (!) and he swapped it for the right one. Of course at this point L realised there was a cable back at the apartment and she'd been trying to fit it into the headphone socket too! Ah well... now at least we could charge the phone!
After all that phone drama it was lovely to go and spend the afternoon in a local Bodegas, Bodegas Tradicion. This is an unusual Bodegas as it doesn't have it's own vineyard but specialises in creating sherry and brandy for niche market sales. At the end we had a tasting, which was really interesting and cemented some of the learning we'd had on the tour. However, what's really unusual about this Bodegas is that they have the most extraordinary art collection in a temperature controlled gallery. Paintings by El Greco, Velasquez and Goya to name just three. It was unbelievable to see such art in a private collection.
Our tour guide, Sabrina, is a friend of both of Larraine's sisters and we were lucky enough to have a free tour.
|The gallery at Bodegas Tradicion - that's 2 Goya's at the end!|
|The Goya's slightly closer up|
|Napoleon by someone famous, but I can't remember who!|
More food and drink to finish our day followed.
Day 3: Phonegate and bollardgate
L had work to do as she had her final essay to write for her current OU course, so while she sat at the desk working away, I went and sat on the roof in the sunshine.
|Larraine hard at work|
L had arranged to go and have something to eat with a friend of hers (I joined them later), but in her haste to go she managed to drop the phone (yes that dratted phone) down the loo. She tried to dry it but hey it had got a real soaking and stopped working. I know I shouldn't have, but I found it extremely funny. L was not amused!
The phone was taken back to the phone shop where L said the guy managed to hide a smirk when she told him what had happened, but the important thing is that he fixed it. Phonegate was over. What a relief.
As we were wandering about the town I managed to turn round quickly and walk straight into a bollard. It was L's turn to laugh at me as I grew a 'spare knee' in no time at all!
Our evening was spent at Annie and Lesley's for dinner along with Sabrina from the Bodegas. Much fun was had by all as well as lots of lovely food and wine and Sabrina gave us a lift back which was really nice.
Day 4: The rock concert
A relaxing day sitting watching the world go by while eating and drinking on one of the main streets, Porvera. Tapas followed by siesta. After that we went out for the evening, had more to eat and drink and then whilst wandering around the town came across a rock band playing. It was hysterical to watch as the audience were sitting in chairs (only one guy danced) politely clapping when they came to the end of a song. At about 9.30 an old lady came out of her house and poked the drummer in the ribs whilst he was playing. She was gesticulating and suggesting they were too loud. They stopped playing not long after that!
Then we wandered around the Alcazar and on to have a quick look at the wine festival, but there were too many people for us so we headed back to the apartment.
Day 5: Out with the horses
As a treat for me (as well as her) Larraine had booked us into the weekly tour and display at La Reserva de Caballos Cartujanos. This is the stud farm for Carthusian horses. What a beautiful place and beautiful display. It was a really hot day and one of the people we had met in Jerez a few days before and was on the tour, fainted. Luckily she wasn't hurt. Luckily the rest of our trip went without incident as we watched the horses do their thing. Mares, stallions, foals, the works. Just gorgeous.
|Two of the riders|
|9 mares being led by one guy|
|Mares and foals|
Another meal out that night, this time at La Cruz Blanca, a well known Jerez restaurant. The food was lovely, especially the deep fried seabass with a red pepper sauce. The only thing not so good was the service as we had to order twice before we got our drinks and it was all a bit slow, but worth it when it came.
Around the corner from the restaurant a mock Beatles band started up. At least at this concert people were dancing even though the music was fairly awful. We didn't stay long.
Day 6: Eyelidgate
Larraine woke up in the morning with burnt, swollen eyelids. She'd spent too much time in the sun at the stud even though she swore she'd put on suncream. We took a trip to the pharmacy where the pharmacist told her just to put a cold compress on, but she did look at L with an 'idiot tourist' look!
On the Porvera we bumped into the woman who'd fainted the day before. There were no after effects so that was good. Then we went off to meet up with Annie and Lesley for a coffee and chat with them and other friends, David and Joanna. David's first remark to me when he heard I came from Scotland was 'Yes or no?' and I thought he'd gone bonkers. I'd totally forgotten about the Scottish Referendum as relaxed holiday mode had definitely taken over. Once David had got over my faux pas we had a laugh about it while drinking delicious orange juice and then I went off with Lesley to a hotel for a swim and some lunch, leaving L to go to her sister's and get on with her OU studies and avoid the sun.
I had a lovely, relaxing afternoon in the sun, reading my Kindle with the odd swim thrown in for good measure. This is when I discovered that the elastic in my bikini was well past it's best and had to hold on to the bottoms before they drifted off!
Another lovely dinner with Annie and Lesley and then on the way home to the apartment we discovered a flamenco singer singing in the square.
Day 7: L finishes her EMA
L really needed to get her essay sent off so she went back to Annie's to use the computer while I had a lovely day wandering about on my own. I went to the Alcazar where it was free to get in, but I couldn't go up to the Camera Obscura. Gorgeous gardens, ancient walls, giant olive press and all sorts to capture the avid tourist.
|The inner court at the Alcazar|
And after all that it was off for our final meal out. We went to Albala and had the best meal of all in Jerez. What a way to finish! If you ever do get to Jerez do go and have the prawn hamburger - no meat at all and came with rice noodles and was absolutely delish and the tempura asparagus were also fantastic.
Day 8: Time to go home
I had to get up at 4.45 am to get the train to Seville. L very kindly accompanied me to the station and waved me off. I managed the journey from the train station at Seville to the airport with no problems at all. Once at the airport I bought a fresh orange juice from an amazing machine, which chopped the oranges in half, squeezed them, threw out the squeezed orange juice halves and fresh juice appeared. It took 3 to make one glass and was lovely.
My flight to Gatwick was uneventful and I arrived back London with enough time to go to my mother's and dump my suitcase before heading off to a meeting, which lasted all afternoon. I had time after this to go back to my mother's and freshen up before heading out to the theatre with my cousin from the US who'd gotten us tickets to see Richard III with Martin Freeman and Gina McKee. It was really good and made me think how nothing much changes. People who want power will do anything pretty much to get it. I was absolutely exhausted by the end of the day.
And there you have it. My hols in Jerez. I had a lovely relaxing time, ate loads, drank more than I usually do and enjoyed it all immensely. I'm going to leave you with my two favourite photos both taken at the Alcazar:
|An unusual window with a great view|
|Sometimes looking up says it all|