A jaunt to Jerez

Apologies that there has been a bit of a hiatus between my account of the trip that I took with my daughter Ella to Seville (at the end of November) and the continuation of this trip to Jerez – all that Christmasy stuff got in the way. Here, now are some lovely photos and a few words about the final two days of our Andalusian meander (around Málaga), saunter (through Sevilla) and jaunt (to Jerez)…

After a busy weekend in Seville, Monday saw us boarding the 10:30 train for the hour+ journey to Jerez de la Frontera and then found our way to the Hotel Doña Blanca (3*, lovely spacious room for 34 euros per night), which was very centrally located only a few minutes’ walk from the main square Plaza Arenal.

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We made a quick turn-around and were soon out and about, looking around the food market, stopping for a drink and tapas for lunch and then popping into the tourist information office to get our bearings.

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We were both keen to visit one of the famous sherry bodegas and the nearest was the Tio Pepe Bodega. The tour didn’t take place until later in the afternoon, so in the meantime we wandered to the Alcazar (originating from the 11th century when it was a Moorish fortress). We were delighted to discover that on Mondays entry was free and surprised to find that not many people were taking advantage of this offer and that we had the place practically to ourselves. I loved it. So peaceful and charming with courtyards and cloistered patios both intimate and grand, a lovely garden, towering palm trees, turrets to climb, bath houses to admire, a fascinating mooch around the former palace and the beautifully preserved pharmacy. There is also a camera obscura, but unfortunately it was not open, I guess because it was a ‘free’ day. But there were so many vantage points to look out over the city rooftops and the cathedral that it wasn’t too disappointing. We spent a good couple of hours just soaking up the atmosphere on a beautifully sunny afternoon.

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On leaving, we strolled past the very impressive cathedral and wandered around the narrow back streets and small plazas, stopping for another drink and tapa before arriving at the Tio Pepe Bodega for our 5pm sherry and brandy tour.

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There were various tour options – and we chose the guided tour with tastings of two sherries at 13 euros – other potions included four tastings and tapas. There were about eight of us for the tour and I was a bit miffed that we were invited to board a silly train to drive us around the extensive site, and we could only view what promised to be really interesting cellars through windows as we passed by. But we were eventually allowed to disembark and our knowledgeable guide led us into a building which housed antique distillation equipment and ancient barrels and she explained in Spanish and English about the history of the bodega.

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We were then taken to another cellar where there were viewing rooms in which we were shown an interesting film about the founder and the origins of the sherry business, and after that the train was dismissed and we were able to walk around this fascinating and immaculately maintained bodega.

Some of the well- known brands from the Tio Pepe Bodega

Some of the well- known brands from the Tio Pepe Bodega

Barrels dedicated to Jesus and his apostles, and also to the Spanish Royal family

Barrels dedicated to Jesus and his apostles, and also to the Spanish Royal family

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A room left undisturbed since the death of the Tio Pepe founder

A room left undisturbed since the death of the Tio Pepe founder

A glass of sweet sherry is always left topped up for the bodega mice

A glass of sweet sherry is always left topped up for the bodega mice

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I really loved this visit in such interesting and beautiful surroundings, and it was topped off with a generous taste of both dry and sweet sherry. By the time we emerged from the bar, dusk had fallen and we were treated to a sight of the castle and cathedral floodlit against the inky sky – quite stunning.

A fitting conclusion to a fabulous tour

A fitting conclusion to a fabulous tour

The Tio Pepe weather vane is recorded in the Guiness Book of Records as the largest in the world

The Tio Pepe weather vane is recorded in the Guiness Book of Records as the largest in the world

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The remainder of our stay in Jerez consisted of wandering around, eating and drinking and a visit the following day to the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art). Disappointingly I wasn’t allowed to take any photographs during the performance of these beautiful animals. We booked on line and paid considerably less than the advertised price.

By the end of our second day in Jerez we were running out of steam so didn’t look for anything else touristy to do, but we did enjoy some of the best food I have tasted for a long time – all from tapas menus, and it was the perfect way to wind-down after a few hectic days.

Wednesday morning saw us catching the train back to Seville and then returning to Malaga train station where Ella and I went our separate ways – Ella to the airport to return to the UK and I caught the bus back to Cómpeta.

It was a fabulous way to spend some quality time with my daughter and to enjoy three beautiful Andalusian cities in just five days.

About magwood

Trepidatious Traveller - camino blog is about preparing for and walking the Camino de Santiago. Many future pilgrims have found the blog useful and inspiring, and many who have no plans to walk the camino have simply enjoyed the dialogue http://www.magwood.me
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15 Responses to A jaunt to Jerez

  1. Thanks Maggie for sharing your story in Jerez. I was there a few years ago but missed the sherry tour which I now regret. We were there for the Feria de Los Caballos which was “Over the Top”!!!
    I love reading your blogs, as it reconnects me with Espana and welcomes me to go back…
    Cathy

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks Cathy – I’m glad the post brought back memories for you. I don’t think I could cope with the horse fair – from my limited experience Andalusian horsemen are often more concerned with how they look in the saddle, rather than their horse’s welfare, particularly if alcohol is involved. You must come back – there is so much to explore.

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  2. Tony Duane Rice Sr. says:

    Great photos Maggie. Your story line also pain
    Ts a great picture.

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    • magwood says:

      Thanks Tony – lucky I had the photos to remind me of what we did in Jerez – my memory is awful, which is actually one of the reasons that I write my blog – so that my memories don’t get lost.

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  3. Oz annie says:

    Thanks Maggie
    I enjoy travel writing. Sunday morning in Oz here with my cuppa winding up to a lovely mid summer day , your pics and info on Jerez are great and bring back memories. I only passed (thru or close ?) on bus – I think I was headed to Cadiz. Am I in the right zone,lol?
    So much to see if Spain, although I have tried to travel around the edges as well as walk some routes of Camino to SDC I want to mooch about these places too one day.
    Thanks for sharing.
    Ps. Never worry about lapsed time in posting or breaks in updates. I enjoy them whenever they come thru
    Annie

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    • magwood says:

      Definitely in the right area Annie. There are so many wonderful cities in Spain – I might even build in a couple of extra days on my next camino to take in some culture, which I haven’t done before. I normally walk a short day into an interesting city so that I have a few hours to look around. I walked in my new boots for the first time today with no sign of any problems.

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  4. Hens says:

    Thank you Maggie your pictures are beautiful

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  5. annieh61 says:

    How lovely to spend time with your daughter in such beautiful places (good sherry is a bonus).

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    • magwood says:

      Hi Annie. Yes, a really good ‘bonding’ time. Much better than the other day when Ella drove from Leeds and I drove from Bristol and we met for a couple of hours in Tamworth to exchange christmas presents. Almost any alcohol works as a bonus for me!

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  6. Love the tour and all your photos, Maggie. Thanks for a bird’s eye-view of your travels with your daughter. What wonderful quality time you have spent together. ❤
    Happy New Year to YOU. 😀

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  7. mary lynch says:

    Greetings Maggie and happy new year to you and David. Delighted to hear there is another
    Camino in the offing!!! You made me want to go and visit the Bodega of Tio Pepe which is my
    favourite sherry. Glad you enjoyed the time with your Daughter. Keep posting I love your outpourings and wish I could emulate you xxxx

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    • magwood says:

      Hi Mary, and season’s greetings back to you. I’ve just spent the morning considering the next Camino plans – another Spring one I think xx

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