TinaCortina's Blog

Musings of a Tgirl

Jerez, por favor!

Hi Girls

Ok so everyone has been to Spain, but has anyone been to Jerez (Jerez de la Frontera)? Situated between Cadiz, famous seaport, just above Gibraltar and not too far from Seville, it’s the bit on the West Coast that’s below Portugal!!

World famous for Sherry of course, you have everyone there Gonzalez Byass, Domecq, Williams & Humbert and there are plenty of sherry tours available, funnily enough it was the one thing we missed. Well most people got to it but I had to make do with drinking the stuff!

This was a long w/e trip to celebrate A-M’s birthday. There were 13 of us from various parts of the country, a mix of family and close friends and we really had a ball.

Flying Ryan Air (£70 return, but make sure you know what you are paying for and take all your paperwork with you), we were out of the airport and into the taxi within 15 mins of landing. The hotel the Prestige Palmera Plaza was 5 star but very reasonable ~ I’m guessing it was £80/room a night for 3 nights. Beautiful courtyard with palm trees. Nice big rooms, good reception desk, but thankfully not at all posh.

We found an Irish Bar to watch the rugby Friday night, then found a very nice restaurant then a bar that kept us going till close on 3am.

Next morning we wanted something rather more authentically Spanish than an Irish bar so most of us went to the Andalusian Equestrian school.

Not cheap, €24 for a front row seat and oh what a pong, but fabulous white Andalusian horses beautifully presented, their riders sitting proud, doing just everything asked of them, walking sideways, turning on a circle, rearing and then walking on hindlegs; a line of 6 horses, crossing and intertwining with another line of 6, hardly any gap to go into, the timing perfect. To be honest, I am not a horse person, at all, but when you are watching the best in the world at anything, it is there to be appreciated.

Now aside from Sherry and the horses, Jerez is famous as the home of Flamenco.

In fact, we got lucky as we had chosen the weekend of the Festival of Flamenco, so we knew there would be a carnival atmosphere and parade in town that evening and several performances of flamenco at several theatres. Well Sat afternoon, we didn’t get tickets at the theatre but decided instead to have a meal where flamenco was part of the deal ~ €30 for 3 course meal, so yes we thought, go for it.

Now not to dismiss the parade, because that evening we watched all the floats and they really were fantastic and the Spanish people so enthusiastic. I loved the bars we drank at, the drinks at least were cheap. You could usually get a small beer or glass of wine or sherry for €1.5 and if you want to eat the tapas in any of these bars it would be about €4 each, ideal to get a few for sharing. It’s a shame the £ had fallen so much. I guess all the prices there would have been a lot cheaper 12 months ago.

Anyway the Flamenco restaurant was fabulous. Food good and again our table was right up front, closest to the singing dancing and clapping. One main singer, three dancers each in turn, half a dozen clappers….. the atmosphere was electric…and they played two lengthy performances. The main dancer looked stunning, fabulous dresses, I’d guess she had been really famous and maybe was just age wise slightly on the way down, but she was class.

Five of us, my daughter included, went on to a very late bar…. We were with my ‘best man and his wife’, found this long narrow bar, bar stools, good music, some friendly locals and we just had fun. We got them playing ‘our kind of music’, a bit of led zep or deep purple ‘smoke on the water’, got our air guitars going and we never looked back.

No-one spoke English which was great. My Spanish is more than a little rusty and never was any good, but we made ourselves understood. My 19 yr old daughter showed herself to be the expert. Her vocab not brilliant, but she sounded Spanish, and she had the men eating out of her hand. We’d all had rather a lot to drink by the time we left at 5:30am …and we weren’t even kicked out!

Still up at around 10, we found somewhere for coffee and tosta (somewhat like toast, it was really gorgeous). And then another holiday highlight.

Jerez also famous for …….‘grand prix racing’. Ok it doesn’t have a grand prix at the moment, but it did in the not too distant past…and again a group of us went out to the Circuito de Jerez where all the teams were practicing, testing their cars ahead of the season start in a week or two.

Now dear Cath, one of our party, got chatting to this guy on the plane coming over….turned out he was in computer support for the Williams team. He told us they were there practicing that week and offered to get us in free. Not only free but we had a pass to the paddock. The locals paid €5 to get into one of the grandstands, we could wander all over, clamber up the empty grandstands, walk to the top of the roof, walk up close to the track, in amongst the big trucks, they were all there Ferrari, Renault the lot ~ well all except Honda, understandably.

Well I discovered I could put my camera on ‘blast mode’ meant you could take about a dozen photos consecutively, so I stood at a corner and took hundreds of these F1 cars blasting past. Oh my ears!! I’ve never been racing before, so it was a heck of an experience.

Sunday night, we booked another speciality restaurant, and this time I had a seafood Paella ~ lovely. Others had chicken paella which I didn’t know existed. Again, the atmosphere fantastic. It’s not easy to book restaurants for 13, but I guess it was Sunday.

One special moment I recall. We were sitting quite close to a Spanish family and they had a little baby girl. Suddenly she was doing the flamenco. She would stand up and dance and click fingers and be all stern and twirl. I asked the Mom how old, she said TWO!!

I had a quiet night Sunday.

Only kept going in the bar till 3am. But still up next morning for breakfast at 9.

I haven’t really described the town, but it has an old and a new bit and the old part is full of the narrow streets, with cobbles, 3 storey buildings so close to each other someone in the shuttered windows could almost touch each other. A Lovely cathedral. Monday we walked down to the shopping areas, but it was raining so we found more lovely small bars.

Some of us returned to a tapas ‘Bar del arriete’, for some lunch. We knew we were going to have to leave around 6 to get the flight back, so had thought it would just be a quick drink.

But no, there were some youngsters in there. Five or six, in their early twenties, one guy had a guitar. And suddenly, spur of the moment, we heard clapping. Now I call it clapping but when you hear 5 or 6 people clapping in harmony, it is like listening to the Beatles. Then the guy started singing. It reminded me of a call to the casbah, he had a very ‘moorish’ voice but then the Moors had settled there long ago’. They played on and off for a couple of hours. They were just playing for fun. Others in the bar joined in. We had a few drinks with our tapas ~ it was wonderful.

You know it was just like disappearing in the Irish countryside and finding some locals doing the ‘diddly dee’ and it is EXACTLY what I like in a holiday……. stumbling across some local culture, totally by accident.

We bought them around of drinks before we left. Big smiles all round. Then back to the hotel, off in a taxi, flight back to Stansted and 2 hour drive home.

My god, it was exhausting, but we packed it in to those 3 nights away.

If you’ve never been to Jerez……….. home of Sherry, Flamenco dancing and singing, Andalusian horses, throw in grand prix racing, street carnivals, great food, great bars, and very friendly locals……….. I can highly recommend it…….but it might just take a while to recover!!

Love & hugs

Tina x

March 20, 2009 Posted by | other/ family | , , , | 2 Comments