A morning in Jerez

Just two weeks after arriving in Seville, I had itchy feet and knew I needed to get out and explore Andalucia. After a quick deliberation, I jumped on Renfe and booked a quick trip to Jerez de la Frontera, or Jerez as it’s usually shortened to. The journey from Seville to Jerez takes about an hour.

The beautiful cathedral of Jerez, surrounded by sherry distilleries

Jerez is a beautiful city, closer to the coast than Seville. And what it’s known for is in its name, Jerez – or sherry in English.  But it also has a second claim to fame, it’s dancing horses! Every Thursday at the Fundacíon Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre the horses put on a show and show off their best moves! (Tickets are from 13-27€ depending on where you’re sat).

But naturally, I missed out on this and visited on a Friday!

The Alzacar in Jerez - not quite as famous as Seville's

The train station is just outside the centre of the city but it’s only a short 15-minute walk before you’re in town. One of Jerez’s most famous sights is the Cathedral, built in the 17th century and looks out over the rest of the city. As well as the insane interior and museum pieces, there’s also a peaceful orange garden out the back. I took my notebook with me and ended up sitting there for about half an hour enjoying the peace. Next to the Cathedral, you’ll find the Alcazar, which was first built in the 11th century, and still maintains some of the original Moorish features. It’s full of history, and amazing views. My favourite part, despite how odd it sounds, was the roof of the Arab Baths!

Water fountains and flags in Jerez's city centre

My visit ended shortly after these two, but there’s plenty more to see;

  • Wherever you look, you’ll find a Bodega – or storehouse for maturing wines/sherries. Some of the more popular Bodegas are Bodega Fundador and Bodegas Faustino Gonzalez. If you’re not fussed on where you go to try some sherry, pop into any open doors as you wonder, they’re bound to be good!
  • Feria del Caballo – Every May (usually the week after Seville’s Feria, and the day after I went!) Jerez celebrates its own Feria, and unsurprisingly, horses have a big influence! It’s celebrated by locals opening up casetas on the streets, and serve food and drink to the visitors. There’s also usually a funfair, lit up with fairy lights!
  • Cartuja de Jerez- The Cartuja is an old monastery located outside the city of Jerez, approximately a fifteen-minute drive from the Cathedral. It was built in the 1400’s by the first Friars to visit the area. The gardens can be visited Tuesday- Saturday, and the inside is open during the hours of worship.

 

The Alcazar in Jerez

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Life in Spain

The famous landmark and movie set, Plaza de España

Life in Spain is truly incomparable. As someone who’s been lucky enough to have spent more than ten years living in two different countries, I’m used to culture shock and learning about a countries way of life. But Spain is different. Everything is so much slower. Shops shut during the afternoon for a siesta because the heat is too much, everyone eats dinner late, toast is the way forward for breakfast. But this country really changes you.

Seville's famous landmark - the Giralda

I first moved to Spain two years ago, when I impulsively signed up and became an Au Pair. Don’t ask what I was thinking, I think I regretted this decision most of the time I was there. But just because I didn’t enjoy my job, doesn’t mean I hated every moment of the experience. I had freedom. I had liberty. I could do whatever I wanted – within reason, I did have to be back by four to pick the kids up.

But time is so much different. I’m doing a job I mostly love, I have a great flat and great flatmates, and I’ve been able to see so much of Andalusia – and squeeze in a quick trip to Madrid. I’m so glad I bit the bullet and came back. Being here as an intern is so much different than being here as an Au Pair. I have a job with normal office hours, four days of the week – which means I now have a third weekend day, ideal to take a quick day trip, have another day to explore Seville and still have a lazy day at home! It really has planned out well!

The world famous palace, the Alhambra (Granada)

I made the decision to move to Spain originally almost impulsively – I knew I had to be out of New Zealand for the European summer but didn’t know how until I came across my au pair agency, but the second time it’s happened differently – in January I wrote it at number one of my to-do list, and by April it had happened – all thanks to an ad that came up on my facebook!

It’s weird to think how different life would be if I hadn’t taken this second plunge!

Torre Tavira's amazing views over Cadiz