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.
So what went from thinking of spending a few days in Granada yesterday somehow morphed into this very impromptu Jerez getaway today. Two nights, three days, all thrown together in less than a few hours. A couple of bodegas have been booked, along with what I hope is a nice hotel, and so off I go mañana. Peter is coming with me and will stay over the first night. Second night he’ll go home to check on the cats (it’s just an hour by train) and will come back early Friday morning. Then we’ll both come home Friday evening. I’m probably being over-protective but it’s hard enough leaving the beasts overnight. Somehow I’d be fine leaving Luna and Loki for two nights, but I worry about Morcilla. Too much, I know. Well. We’ll see how it goes. If I’m feeling more relaxed about this on Thursday evening then maybe Peter won’t go back to check on them.
Meanwhile, it’s going to be three days of sherry research and spending some quality time in Jerez when it isn’t Feria. Looking forward to it!
The last time I was in IKEA was in October 2012 when I bought this lovely bed, which then turned into a total IKEA nightmare, that was finally resolved a month later when they sent two guys over to re-install the bed. But today I felt the urge to head out to Castilleja de la Cuesta (Sevilla suburb and home to IKEA) to look for some very IKEA looking light fixtures I’d seen – and liked – when I was staying at Casa de Huéspedes last November. In the end I didn’t find the light fixtures I was looking for, but ended up with some new cushions and also replacement curtains required because of you-know-who… and also a bit of this and that. Half-way through the IKEA ordeal Peter and I stopped for the usual summer Cold Beer O’clock break, this time with (actually very good) sour cream & onion crisps, before heading back into the fray. Best part was at the check-out – something almost nobody ever says – when I found out that one of the IKEA cards I’d brought along (had no idea what they were) turned out to be a “gift card” with a balance of 30€! So woo-hoo! My shopping trip ended up costing half as much as expected. So not a bad Monday. How was yours?
Most of the time I forget I have a tumblr account, and in fact I don’t think I even started connecting to it until I got on Instagram. This blog is also connected to it. So in a way it’s just a “copy” of what goes on on those two accounts, which sometimes repeat. But it’s all done automatically, which is why I forget it’s there. I think my favourite thing about Tumblr is clicking on “archives” and getting this… azahar’s archives. Kind of a nice monthly photo album of my life.