Thursday, October 27, 2011

Jerez - Getting Started

Maybe this is silly, but I didn't look closely at a map before I got here. This map is courtesy of The Lonely Planet. I didn't realize that Jerez is so far south. It cannot be more than 70 or 80 miles from Morocco. The climate is more Mediterranean or even North African than, say Parisian, or most any city in Europe.It is sub-tropical here. There are palm trees everywhere.

In the plazas and lining the streets.

On top of small buildings.

There are also orange trees lining many streets and plazas.

They are the small and bitter Seville Oranges, prized for use in marmalade.

In some ways Jerez looks like some other small cities I've been to in Europe, but overall it reminds me much more of cities in Latin America, like San Jose in Costa Rica, or Grenada in Nicaragua. Makes sense, as this part of Spain was the port to the new world, and its architecture was exported along with other cultural elements.

The streets tend to be narrow, lined with one or two story buildings. Not much sidewalk to speak of. Driving is challenging, to say the least.

The buildings have interior courtyards with gardens or patios. The one above is in our little guest house.

There is no grid, and the streets wind in what to me seems like a maze. They turn corners and open up to lovely little cafes with people of all ages sitting and drinking coffee or beer at all hours. Sometimes you can even hear Flamenco music drifting from an open window, and this is when it gets to be comically perfect.

The narrow streets can eventually run into larger boulevards lined with beautiful old trees. Walking on one of these boulevards in the late afternoon sun, it just feels good.

It's not all storybook and romance though. Jerez is a real working city with some grit to it, and the normal sad things you'll find in most any city. Stray dogs, beggars, garbage on the street.

But it is beautiful, and hospitable, and to this visitor, fascinating. And it is Jerez, after all, so signs of Sherry are everywhere.

In the smallest grocery stores (what we in NYC would call bodegas) you will see bottles of Sherry in the cooler next to soft drinks.

I think this sign would be a welcome addition in Times Square.

More to come...


Redbird said...

Gorgeous descriptions, keep them coming! So nice to get visuals of Jerez, after drinking so much sherry. The way you describe it reminds me of Palermo a little bit. Enjoy your time there.

Michael Madrigale said...

Love it LD. Enjoy your time off!!