Jerez – sherry, horses and bikes

After rescuing the car from the parking garage and loading our bags I couldn’t help but feel a bit nervous of getting lost on the cobbled streets of Granada and within a couple of hundred meters we were stopped by the Policia.  Not because we had done anything wrong only that there was a running race that had closed our exit off so we watched a running race pass for over an hour. When the final runners filed passed the Policia waved us through and we were able to get out of Granada with minimal fuss.

Our plan was to take a detour via Ronda as it looked like an looks interesting place. However many of these towns are much bigger than we expected, and on the day we arrived there was cars and people everywhere. I later found out that there had been a running race here as well, and on any other day it would have been much quieter.

We were hoping to see the Roman baths, and possibly the bull ring but without being able to park the car and having already lost over an hour getting out of Granada we decided to push on to Jerez.

navigating the streets of Ronda

people everywhere

From Ronda we headed into the mountains on great motorcycle roads smooth tarmac following the contours of the mountain. And as an added benefit the scenery was just as stunning.

one of my favourite signs

riders out enjoying the sunshine and mountain roads

The red poppy is not a flower that is seen very often in Australia and the only time that we really see them (and even then it’s just a cloth/plastic flower) is as a sign of remembrance around Anzac Day when thinking of lives lost in conflict. So it has been an interesting emotion to see them growing wild and lining the roadways.

It is also interesting to see how the ‘little’ towns are quite built up and have very defined boundary.

define boundary of town

Pulling into Jerez on a Sunday afternoon it looked deserted which certainly made it easier to find our accommodation. The building proved tricky to find as the exterior didn’t look like the picture as the exterior wall hides the courtyards. Our apartment in Jerez was built in the 17th century and the owners are limited to what they can do. While the interior has modern fixtures you can just feel the history in the beams and walls.

our apartment is the unassuming white and yellow one on the lett

view out our kitchen window at dusk. The sparrows were quite mesmerising and it was easy to just sit and watch them dart around.

even the roof tiles have character.

And then only a couple of blocks away is this 15th century cathedral that looks quiet worn from the years.

Jerez feels much less touristy as there aren’t souvenir shops on every corner or down every little back alleyway. In fact it felt more like a working city rather than a city on show. By 2pm the town had all but closed down excepts for the restaurants and bars, it only left the tourists to wander around wondering where everyone had gone. And by 5pm shops started to reopen and life returned to the streets.

Jerez is famous for three things sherry, horses and bikes. We managed to cross all those things off in our time here.

On our first morning we enjoyed an hour long tour of the city in an open buggy. Our guide, an old Spanish guy, didn’t speak any English but still gave us a full commentary even though we had no idea. But still it was just the perfect way to explore a horse town. We followed this up with the tourist bus trip to fill in the missing commentary. The bus ticket includes a tour of the Gonzalas Byass winery which specialises in sherry and is famous for the Tio Pepe sherry.

touring the city by one horsepower.

The perfect way to tour the city

barrels of sherry with flags of all the countries it is exported to. And yes Australia is there.

In our planning the only thing that Deb and Lyn had their hearts set on was to go and see the dancing horses show at the famous Fundacion Real Escula Andaluza Del Arte Ecuestre which only have a show on Tuesday. So our whole itinerary was worked around this. And I think it is fair to say that it exceeded expectations with the chance to not only see the show but to walk in the stables with the horses, watch them warmup and visit the museum of all things horses. Quite fascinating … yes even for me.

watching the warm up routine

Before the show started. By the time it started the place was packed.

And to finish out the trip in Jerez we visited the Jerez circuit museum which was also open on Tuesday. This rounded out our visit to Jerez nicely. Something for everyone.

Looking over the quiet Jerez circuit

an interesting front end


A couple of thoughts –

The Spanish people seem to really enjoy life. They embrace it. You watch them interact and it’s very expressive. I’d say they are laid back but not in the same way as Australians are. It’s more that they have a relaxed lifestyle yet they are passionate about who they are and what they want which has been evident at the number of marches we have seen. Whereas Australians are laid back and even blase in that we take what we have for granted. 

Language – while in a perfect world I would love to have fluent Spanish and be able to talk to people the fact is I don’t and although I tried my brain just doesn’t pick up languages very easily. Saying that, while the language barrier has presented challenges they haven’t been inpossible and google translate has sure been handy.! 

Driving – belting around Barcelona in a taxi with a constant stream of scooters moving around you I was quite nervous about driving and then added to that right hand drive and manual.  I have found the change in side to the gear stick has only resulted me hitting the door a couple of times searching for the stick. Overall I have really enjoyed driving in Spain as the drivers are generally curtious and as there is so much going on all the time they are also more observant.  The only thing that has rattled me a bit is the narrow streets which can make navigating ‘fun’ sometimes.!

Trucks – in Australia the majority of the trucks (semi’s, prime movers) have a bogey axle drivetrain (2 sets of wheels) towing a tri axle trailer (3 sets of wheels). In America I noticed that the majority of trucks had bogey drive train but towing trailers of the same length trailer but with bogey axles. From the signs I observed my guess is that a truck with a bogey trailer can do the standard speed limit whereas a tri axle is limited to a lower speed (due to heavier weight capacity). Therefore it makes sense to use bogey trailers except where very heavy loads are being carried which require the additional axle for load bearing. In Spain however the majority of prime movers with a single set of drive wheels towing tri axle trailers. As yet I have not got to the bottom of that one.

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