Category Archives: Travel Blog

All The Fun of the Fair

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Horse fair that is. Jerez. Big day out for us country folk.

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Clap Your Hands if You’re Happy, Jerez

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You can read a brief guide I wrote to nearby Jerez over at The Guardian. I highlighted some options for people visiting the city for the annual flamenco festival (which runs until March 7). It’s not always you have the biggest names in flamenco performing on stage in multiple venues and live music (and dance) in just about every bar and peña on every single night, but there is always flamenco – the good sort, the loose, earthy, in every fibre of the body sort, and I mention a couple of places you can be fairly confident of finding it, along with some ways to spend the days.
I absolutely love Jerez; it’s an eminently walkable city (until it hits 40 degrees). It’s historic heart with its churches, cobbles, and Moorish walls isn’t a preserved tourist attraction, but the place where a lot of energetic, enthusiastic people live and work. The fact that the streets are lined with tables and umbrellas, and that it’s home to some of the best wine in the world, doesn’t hurt either. During the first heavy duty stage of restoring this old farm building, most of my time in Jerez was spent in warehouses on trading estates looking at boilers and roof insulation, but happily, I’m now meeting people doing interesting things in arts, tourism, and the wine world. Good times.
By the way the article has now been shared lots of times so I hope it serves as a useful starter guide, and it no longer has 0 comments. The comments are always pretty interesting, but the one suggesting that the festival of Jerez is not something that people who actually live in Jerez can afford or enjoy is as another commentator says, ‘cobblers’. Like everything in Jerez, it’s an event put on by the people here for the people here; tourists aren’t essential, but they are welcome.

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GUARDIAN COSTA DE CADIZ

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See the feature I wrote for The Guardian on Cádiz and the Costa de la Luz: where to stay, eat, drink and more: ‘With sunshine pouring down on golden sands, ancient buildings and the sparkling ocean, Spain’s far south-west lives up to its name, the coast of light’. The idea was to suggest good places to visit in order to take advantage of the late summer sun. It’s currently late October and the temperatures are still around 30 degrees. You can read the full article here.

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Seaside, Sea Salt, Sanlúcar

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Down below all the history, callejónes, bars, singing, and bodega action of Sanlúcar de Barrameda’s barrio alto, Spain ends in sea and sky. Straight roads meet at a point on the horizon in the salt flats beyond down-at-heel Bonanza. You can buy sea salt by the sack here.

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Zahora, Caños de Meca

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They don’t call this the Costa de la Luz for nothing. The daylight is unique, the sunsets all-engulfing. The beaches were packed in August, but in September, even on a Saturday, in prime position in front of Chiringuito de Juan and Sajorami, with temperatures over 30 degrees and not a cloud in the sky, things are just plain civilised.

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Cante por Serranas

DSC01207Had cheap beer, montaditos and crisps at the 39th annual competitive flamenco sing-off in the plaza of Prado del Rey. A rousing event involving high-profile singers – and their supporters – from all over the sierras, the organisers are hoping it becomes a designated national tourism attraction. It currently feels pleasantly neighbourly – well-dressed children, hair slicked flat, rolling across the plaza; teenage girls in platforms texting the boys lolling about by the church wall; old women (hair done specially) discussing someone who’s died; men in striped shirts smoking at the bar talking about bulls, and a succession of suitably overwrought singers punching out the compulsory copla.
It’s what passes as a top night out round these parts.

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