White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA
White Horse Beach, Manomet, Plymouth, Massachusetts, USA

Monday, March 7, 2016

Jerez de la Frontera and Home, Cádiz, Seville, Andalusia, Spain

We made a day trip to Jerez de la Frontera, a town considered a sherry, flamenco, and horse capital of the Andalusian region. We will be staying here for a few weeks soon and met with the owner of the property.

Jerez de la Frontera, usually called just Jerez, is about an hour south of Seville. Some of the sights and sounds we will enjoy include roaming the narrow streets of its old quarter, the Alcázar (a Moorish fortress founded in the 11th century), the horse training school, flamenco music, and sherry bodegas.

Whitewashed buildings with color accents line this clean, quiet, narrow street in the central district.

After meeting the owner and visiting the property, he escorted us to a favorite nearby restaurant, Bar Juanito, which was hopping with locals. He helped us get a great table in the center of the action after chatting with his friend the bar/restaurant owner.

It was a perfect ringside seat to Andalusian culture: a long, loud, and leisurely Saturday lunch with family and friends as their kids and/or grandkids played nearby. Family is very important in the Spanish culture and they seem to be more willing to let the kids play among themselves without such close monitoring and control as I observe in American culture. If they fall and cry, kiss them, hug them, and send them back out.  I like that.

As we were preparing to leave, the bar owner pulled us inside to experience a flamenco session just beginning. No dancer this time, just the intensely passionate singer/clapper, and the guitarist. There really isn't a parallel in American music that comes to mind that would equate to the role of flamenco in this culture.

After lunch, we wandered in the fresh air and sunshine past this statue and the Cathedral. Tio Pepe (on the cask) is a world famous brand of sherry produced here in Jerez.

This group of men stopped to pose while moving some of the religious artifacts back into the church. Jerez, like many cities in Spain, is preparing for the annual Semana Santa observance.

It was a dramatic sky day. I think Jerez will make a fine home for a few weeks. A perfect location for quiet local wandering and photography, dramatic flamenco, and a central base for trips to other towns. It is less crowded and frenetic than Seville. That's both good and bad. I generally prefer peace and quiet but may miss the non-stop action we are enjoying in Seville.

Heading home, this gigantic bull on the hillside brought us to a screeching stop to get out the cameras.

For scale, the tiny bump to the right of the antenna mast is an automobile. That is one BIG bull. In fact, it is a 46 feet tall black bull (14 meters). Here's the Wikipedia version about it: "The Osborne sherry company (founded by Thomas Osborne Mann in 1772) erected large images of bulls starting in 1956 to advertise their Brandy de Jerez. The images were black advertising boards located near major roads throughout Spain. The original image was smaller and slightly different in design. The current larger image was created to comply with a law that prohibited advertising within 150 metres of a road. In 1994 the EU passed a law that prohibited all roadside advertising of alcoholic beverages, and the bulls were therefore to be removed. By this time the signs were nationally renowned, so although some campaigners wished them completely removed to fully comply with the intent of the law, public response resulted in the signs being retained, but completely blacked out to remove all reference to the original advertisers. The Court eventually allowed these signs to remain on the grounds that they have become a part of the landscape and have "aesthetic or cultural significance", thus turning the bulls into public domain images." Source: Wikipedia.

Later the same day, back home in Seville in the evening, I decided to head back outside to boost my step count for the day. I didn't get very far. As I passed the church next door, Iglesia del Santo Ángel, like a moth to a flame, I was drawn in to the sounds of a full orchestra.

This is a vertical panorama to show the ceiling during the performance in our neighborhood church, Iglesia del Santo Ángel. In addition to the famous Cathedral of Seville, there are more than 100 other smaller churches in the city, perhaps like this one.

The orchestra was La Banda Municipal de Villalba del Alcor and was formed more than 135 years ago in the neighboring province of Huelva which is to the west between Seville and the nation of Portugal. It was a really special and beautiful experience for me to see and hear them in this setting.

Music is everywhere here in Seville.  Formal, informal, inside, outside, impromptu, scheduled, soloists, groups. It is a great attribute of a great city.

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