Two and half years ago when I bought Manzana (my first ever iPad) I was thrilled to pieces. And I still use him a lot, but always at home, or in a hotel room when travelling. Turns out that the iPad is just a bit too big and heavy to be as mobile as I thought it was going to be. I think even the iPad Air would feel too big for just carrying around in my bag. And so today I realised a long-standing geeky dream and bought an iPad mini.
Meet Manzanilla. She’s super thin and has a fab retina screen, and now also has a rather smart red “smart cover”. And she doesn’t seem to weigh any more than my iPhone (weird). Anyhow, perfect timing as I am off to Sanlúcar de Barrameda tomorrow for a bit more travel and sherry research. Quite excited to see how Manzanilla travels.
Medium cat Luna was off doing something else at the time, but I mean honestly! Loki is easily twice the size of Morcilla – and she’s full grown! It’s no wonder I worry about them “playing” together sometimes, because Loki doesn’t seem to know his own strength. But mostly they all get on great. Can you tell another #getaway is coming up? But this time they’ll only be left to their own devices overnight…
So I was out having a tapita and listening to an 80’s soundtrack that was on at the bar, and I couldn’t decide if it was making me feel young, thin and pretty again, or reminding me of how old and fat I am now. Then this song came on and I tweeted something about it, to which @sparkybakewell replied…
In case you’ve forgetten too, this is for you. :)
Friday was market day in Jerez. I love visiting markets everywhere I go and Jerez is my second favourite market in Andalucía (after Cádiz). We stopped first for some hot crispy churros and industrial strength coffee in the square in front of the market and then strolled around the place for a good hour or so. I don’t know why this market has such a hold on me, but everytime I go there I wish we had a similar market in Sevilla – and there are some very nice ones here! On the other hand, if you took the Jerez market out of Jerez…
After the market visit we did some easy sightseeing around town and had a nice lunch at Ajonegro (a place I had visited before). And then it was time to head back to DREAD HOTEL to pick up our bags and get over to the train station. Given that it’s just an hour’s ride from Sevilla I think I will be doing more Jerez day trips from now on. Have a look at the Azahar Travel blog in the next few days for more detailed accounts of the Jerez Getaway.
Thursday was sherry tasting madness with three bodega tours booked starting at 9.30 am and finishing around 3.30 pm. But unlike the regular tourist tour I did at Gonzalez Byass on Wednesday, these were all private visits, and I felt both honoured and privileged that these very special wineries made me feel so welcome. And talk about educational! I had previously found out that I wasn’t able to get into this September’s Sherry Educator course (though I was promised a place for next year). But this sherry tasting marathon was almost like doing a mini course in a few hours. I just let each person take me through the sherry making process from the beginning, in their own way, and it was very interesting how I learned different things at each place. Each bodega was unique and everyone I spoke to was incredibly passionate about their work. And the wines! Stunning. I will be doing a more indepth report on all this a bit later on Azahar Travels, but I have to say that the more I learn about sherry, the more I realise what a wonderfully complex wine it is. As my friend (and sherry educator) Annie Manson says, you never stop learning about sherry.
Anyhow, I thoroughly enjoyed the day, being treated like a VIP and getting caught up in all the stories and discussions. After the final tasting Peter and I popped over to Bar Arturo, renowned for its no-nonsense décor and fabulous fish and seafood. Absolute fishy heaven. And crazy good tomatoes too.
Wednesday in Jerez started off with a bang… just enough time to get from the train station to the hotel to drop off bags before heading over to Bodegas Gonzalez Byass for one of their winery tours. It’s almost ridiculous that I have only got over to the G-B bodega now as I’ve known people there for so long, but there you go. Anyhow, it was quite a show and you are immediately impressed by the size and importance of the place. But it’s not just show as the wines are excellent and – I can’t help it – I adore the iconic Tío Pepe logo.
The hotel which shall not remain nameless – THE BELLAS ARTES HOTEL – was so disappointing I wanted to weep. The first room we were shown was so small, dark and cheerless (and this was after splashing out on their “executive” twin option) that I immediately asked for another room. Well, the next one was even worse, though it did have a window facing the square. Finally I was promised one of their best rooms, with floor-to-ceiling windows and blah blah blah, and it was okay. Barely. Anyhow, will go into this more when I write the official review, but let’s just say I wasn’t happy. And I would’ve changed hotels but the not-so-nice people at Belles Artes said they wouldn’t refund my second night as I’d booked a “special offer”. Fuck. Them.
Likewise our lunchtime tapeo was a bit of a bust. The two places we tried were okay, but nothing special. We did a bit better in the evening, finding a special “ruta” of tabancos and tuna, finishing off at La Cruz Blanca for a last snack. Basically we stayed out until bedtime so that we didn’t have to spend any more time in the hotel room as necessary. Ah well… with three more bodega tours booked for the next day we had that to look forward to.