Famous for its flamenco, horses and sherry, Jerez de la Frontera in Spain’s southern province of Cadiz and region of Andalucia, is our current ‘home’ on our contemporary grand tour. And what a proud and hospitable ‘home’ it is.
What has struck us most this week has been the courteousness and graciousness of the people of Jerez. Perhaps it’s because there are very few tourists around — most foreigners on the streets seem to be flamenco aficionados here for the Festival de Jerez, which is on right now.
In Jerez, drivers have stopped at traffic lights when their lights have been green to wave us across the street. At the supermarket, an elderly lady about to be served at the checkout with half a dozen items on the conveyor belt insisted we, with just a few items less than her, be served first. When we protested she lifted our things and moved them in front of her own.
At the market, several old ladies trying the tuna spotted us admiring the fresh fish and instructed the fishmonger to pass the plate over to let us have a taste and then proceeded to explain how it was prepared — just olive oil, “nada mas” (nothing more) they told us proudly.
As we explored the streets, friendly locals stopped to point out architectural flourishes on churches and buildings, and, smiling, stopped in their tracks to let us take photos or happily ducked beneath our frame. Madrid-based travel writer, Annie Bennett agreed with us. “People in Jerez are always amazingly polite and just oozing well-being from every pore.” Annie puts it down to all the sherry!
She’s probably right. We’ve seen locals drinking the stuff in cafés and bars at any and all times of the day and night. We tried some sherry with lunch and while it was heavenly with a honey-like mouth-feel, it was a bit potent for so early in the day.
Jerez is the home of Tio Pepe, Spain’s most famous sherry, along with dozens of other bodegas, so one of our aims while we’re here will be to learn more about it. Si, it’s a tough gig sometimes! We want to learn more about flamenco and Andalucian horses too. Luckily, Jerez is the address of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and the city’s celebrated flamenco festival is on throughout our stay — we’ve attended one brilliant performance, and we’ll be attending more, which we’ll post about soon.
Our HomeAway rental in Jerez is a rather smart one-bedroom apartment, slap-bang in the centre of town, with two sets of French windows overlooking the main square, Plaza Arenal. Recently renovated, it’s decorated in a contemporary style — slate grey sofa, sleek white furniture, clear plastic chairs and table, big flat-screen televisions (two!), satellite TV, and so on.
While we loved the charms of our traditional Moroccan riads, it’s nice to have a television again (a great way to improve our Spanish), a modern kitchen with a big fridge, and a washing machine. Terry’s only disappointment is that while there’s a flashy electric stovetop, there’s no oven. The weekend egg dish he had wanted to make was Huevos a la Flamenca, a local specialty, which required baking. Let’s see what he comes up with instead. I get the feeling that Spanish chorizo sausage might be involved… he’s certainly been doing plenty of research on that!