Travel diary: Alba’s in Jerez!

It’s mad to think we’ve got less than two weeks left here in Jerez, but we’ve been making the most of our time — our friend Alba is here to visit, so we’ve been doing a lot of touristy things with her.

Monday 28/1: Mondays always seem busy at the moment, and this one was no exception — we recorded a podcast and got a whole lot of other work done.

Tuesday 29/1: We’d organised to visit Alvaro Domecq bodega in the morning, and had an enjoyable tour with our contact Maria. I especially enjoyed seeing the vinegar cellar, which is something we hadn’t seen at any of the other wineries we’ve visited, and of course tasting some of the wines at the end of the tour.

Tasting the wine is always good.

Tasting the wine is always good.

What wasn’t quite so enjoyable was the next stop, the dentist’s. We had a bit of time before my appointment, so we had coffee and sandwiches filled with tasty jamón Serrano. And then I had a tooth pulled.

I’m pretty lucky, I suppose, that my face didn’t swell up or anything, and the pain wasn’t unbearable, but having teeth pulled just isn’t fun. I could only eat soft, cold food for the rest of the day, so I had creamed rice and avocado for dinner.

Wednesday 30/1: Although Craig spent the day working, I couldn’t concentrate and mostly just read my book.

Thursday 31/1: After a morning of work, Craig and I walked over to the train station to meet Alba. We dropped off her bag at home, then went for a long walk around the city to show her the sights, with a pause at a bar for a Sherry lesson.

Diego and Ana had invited us all over for dinner, and although we almost missed the bus and had forgotten their address, we made it there right on time. They were hosting two German girls, one of whom didn’t speak any Spanish — so the conversation was a mix of Spanish, English and German. Craig and I even managed to produce a couple of sentences in German. The food was delicious, as always: Ana had prepared a nice soft fish stew because of my tooth removal — she’s so sweet!

The Santo Domingo cloisters.

The San Domingo cloisters.

Friday 1/2: On the way back from the Flamenco centre (which was less interesting than I remembered it being) Alba and I saw the elusive €6 menu del día sign — so we had to eat there. And it was fantastic. The options were limited but the food was great quality and the music was hilarious.

Since I’d misread the website (and also because it had contradictory information on it) the Museo del Belen was closed when we arrived later in the day. So Alba and I headed to the Lidl, which I wish I’d known about earlier because it had so many awesome things to buy! At least we’d been able to visit the Claustros de Santo Domingo earlier, which were as spectacular as always.

After a light dinner we walked over to Tabanco Plateros, where Alba had the second part of her Sherry lesson (part two: dulce) and almost died with happiness because the olives were so tasty.

After a couple of drinks, we headed across town to attend a flamenco recital. It was interesting, but since none of us are enamoured with this style of music we only stayed for two songs.

Flamenco singers.

Flamenco singers.

Saturday 2/2: After an inadvertent sleep-in on my part, Alba and I went to the market to buy food for lunch; then dropped off our purchases, picked up Craig, and headed to the Alcázar.

Inside the Alcázar.

Inside the Alcázar.

This fortress is the archaeological jewel of Jerez and we still hadn’t visited in the two and a half months we’d been here — but it was worth the wait. It’s a lot larger inside than it seems from the other side of the wall, and includes a palace, several towers, Arabic baths and some fantastic gardens. We really enjoyed the camera obscura, which gave us a great view of the city and surroundings.

After a tasty lunch cooked by Craig, we had a long rest, then Alba and I walked back to the Museo del Belen — which she loved. It was a bit strange seeing all those nativity scenes in February, but it’s a great idea for a museum.

Sunday 3/2: Fede and Lien were picking us up at 9am, which meant an early start. We succeeded, though! Our first stop was at Junta de Los Rios for a delicious, cheap, and artery-hardening breakfast of zurrappa on toast. Next, we drove towards Grazalema, but stopped just before the town for a one-hour hike in the Sierra de Grazalema. Later, we spent an hour or so in the town itself, which is one of the famous White Villages; we had a beer and ate delicious cheese, then explored a little before driving to Ronda.

Hiking in the Sierra de Grazalema.

Hiking in the Sierra de Grazalema.

Ronda was spectacular — not only did it have the white walls and terracotta roofs of the other white villages, it also had a gorge crossed by a very impressive bridge, and fantastic views from the cliff top. It’s a pity that lunch was a rip-off: slow service, hidden charges and disappointing portion sizes left us all complaining as we walked away.

Lien and Fede had dinner with us, which Craig prepared while I taught everyone how to play Monopoly Deal. Everyone seemed to like the Vietnamese summer rolls, though Fede wasn’t too impressed when I knocked over the bottle of water into his lap, smashing two glasses along the way. Fun times!

Grazalema, one of the pueblos blancos.

Grazalema, one of the pueblos blancos.

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