Okay, Okay so I may have mentioned I am a planner/ List maker (even though I am not a Libra), however even this time I may have bitten off more than I could chew! So I have just come back from Spain to visit my father – whilst there I suggested that we all go and do some touring of Spain, because there is SO MUCH to see! I have done Granada and Alhambra several years ago – I may have a tiny, tiny obsession with anything to do with Queen Isabella and her daughter Catalina (who is better know as Katherine of Aragon, Henry VIII’s first wife – divorced not beheaded!).
So anyways the trip was 4 days and 4 cities in Andalusia – Jerez, Seville, Cadiz and Antequera!
So based in Jerez de Frontera for 3 nights we did get to see some of old town – Jerez, known for its Bodega’s that produce the Sherry! Sherry is mostly what this area is known for with many of the most famous companies still having their storage and production facilities there, such as Harveys Bristol Cream and Tio pepe. As with most of Andalusia – the city has many Moorish buildings remaining such as the 11th Century Acazar Palace and many of the churches still have the carved stone lace work decorations and colourful tiles known for this period – beautiful! A stroll around the tiny little cobbled and winding streets is a must – visit to the main square and the Cathedral is definitely worth a visit! Also not far from the Cathedral you will find a tucked away little paradise – very unassuming from the street, you would hear the trickle of fountains and water before you see the door to the Hammam Andaluci (Arab Bathhouse).
Lovely food and even nicer locals – we loved our time in Jerez with its many famous bars dating back to the 20s – but its a shame our last night after we visited the Tio Pepe Bodega (Vineyard) we found the Sherry Bar (Tabanco El Pasaje) and got to hear the Flamenco Music Jerez is known for. Sadly we didn’t get to see the dancing horse that the city is also known for – but would be happy to go back again, any excuse really!
Some some advise and a warning – go eat in some of the local restaurants and ask for the specials – I had the catch of the day stuffed with Moroccan spices and fruits, it was amazing!! Drink the red wine from the local sherry vineyards – Tio Pepe produce a Rioja called Beronia and its lovely!
Now my warning – when Sherry is a €1 a glass and its really sweet – don’t let it fool you – its so strong! My poor head the next day 😦 haha as they say ‘when in Rome’, I couldn’t help myself.
Next day was spent wandering around the BEAUTIFUL streets of Seville. The City is the capital of the Andalusia region. It’s famous for flamenco dancing, particularly in its Triana neighbourhood which is across the river. Major landmarks include the ornate Alcázar castle complex, built during the Moorish Almohad dynasty, which was also once home to Queen Isabella (Yes I did have a little girly squeal when I walked the same halls as her)! It also has the 18th-century Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza bullring, which is the place from the opera Carmen and outside even has a statue of the leading lady. The Gothic Seville Cathedral is the site of Christopher Columbus’s tomb and a minaret turned bell tower, the Giraldo – it is also the largest church in the world (It even has the Guinness world record certificate framed on the wall inside the church), with paintings inside by Murillo, Goya and Roldan. During Roman times this was the home of Hadrian and Emperor Julius Caesar to name a few! I mean wow – see what I mean about so much history – it blows your mind!
My favourite however ended up being to my surprise the Plaza de Espana – which was a feast for the eyes with little boats on the Venetian styled canal around the square, horse and carriage tours and surrounded by lush gardens! Which leaves no doubt why it was used for film locations, including scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia. The building was used as a location in the Star Wars – Attack of the Clones.
The next day was spent in the city of Cadiz, which is a much more Bohemian experience than Seville due to the many white sandy beaches that surround the city due to it being on a spit of island that juts out onto a bay. Founded by the Phoencians, as their main trading post in 1100 BC, it has many old ruins from this period. Hence why this city is known as the oldest in Europe!
Take a wander throught the winding little streets and just take in all the buildings from each decade, every turn is a surprise of melding of the old, older, new and newest!
Being from a coastal area myself – although I loved Seville, for me Cadiz was like the Spanish bohemian version of my own Brighton! With falmenco dancers and guitarist appearing on bike, performing and disappearing again just as quickly – it was a great little city to spend time and just soke up all it has to give!
Our last day was spent wandering round the city of Antequera which means “Ancient City” and also known as “the heart of Andalusia” (el corazón de Andalucía) because of its central location amongst Malaga, Granada, Cordoba and Seville. The 7500 year old caves known as The Antequera Domens is a UNESCO World Heritage site and features burial sites of the old city chieftans and also cave paintings!
The city has many Roman ruins – including some Roman Baths and most recently a Roman Manor with intact Roman floor mosiacs!
The nuns in this area also are known to bake the most amazing pastries which tourists and locals can purchase, with all the proceeds going into the funds for their churches and monasteries!
Another little love of mine is a beautiful ceiling – being dragged through churches and cathedrals as a child must have rubbed off! The Cathedral in the main square of Antequera has a beautiful ceiling!
Well I loved my little trip round some of the cities of Andalusia – even if my feet don’t feel the same! I am now planning my next one perhaps to Cordoba, Zaragoza, Ronda and Huelva!