Friday, 9 March 2007

SPAIN - La Frontera - Arcos & Jerez

Late April 2004
As part of an extended stay in Fuengirola, Andalucia, we took a one night trip out away from the Costa del Sol, into the country.

Day 1
Our first stop, after a twisting mountain road was Ronda. The 'New Bridge' turned out to be several hundred years old and spanned an extremely deep gorge. The stone bridge is constructed from several arches, crossing the Guadalévin river, 130 metres below. A nearby house offers a stair well through the rocks, emerging on a platform suspended a few feet above the river. The town is also considered to be the home of bull fighting. We visit the museum within the bull ring.

After coffee, we resume our drive to Arcos de la Frontera, a small town clinging to the very edge of a cliff. Our hotel, El Convento, a converted convent, has a luxurious bath room featuring a table and chairs, with two windows looking out across the valley floor, directly down the side of the cliff. We watch red kites soaring on the thermals and Jayne sees one plummet out of the sky, taking a pigeon out. I only heard the mid-air thump. The views were just spectacular. We ate in the hotel restaurant, two streets away, a great meal. The town buildings are almost all white and the narrow cobbled streets can barely handle a large car. The town comes to a halt when a small lorry is parked up outside a street cafe. we sit back, with a coffee and watch the commotion.

Day 2
Leaving Arcos, we drive west to Jerez del la Frontera, commonly known just as Jerez. Our visit is mainly to tour the bodegas of Gonzalez Byass - famous for Tio Pepe, Crofts and Lepanto brandy. This was an interesting visit, providing an insight in to the processes and the way old and new barrels are used to influence the colour and flavour.

Regrettably, we only walked through the town and did not stay long enough to absorb much of the atmosphere. Our early departure to Gibraltar was largely so make it there before the shops closed. We will need to return to Jerez to see it properly, including the famous horses.

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