December 09, 2007 GMT
Jerez de la Frontera

4 Dec 07 to 10 Dec 07

After spending too long wandering in new parts of Granada, Mike had to rush to be sure he was back at the BMW dealer at the appointed time to collect the Elephant. That is, if the servo unit had arrived from Madrid and the mechanics had managed to fit it and if the collection time hadn’t been confused in translation.

jerez 008.jpg

Our friends on the Transalps recognised us at the lights when we waved and snapped their photo.

Arriving at 1550, the place was deserted. In Australia, we would take this to mean that the surf is up and everyone has knocked off early. In Spain it simply means that no one was back from lunch yet. At 1557 they poured in with a roar of bikes and cars and flooded the workshops and offices with noise and movement. The dealership is open until 2000 each day.

The Elephant was waiting, still needing a wash, but looking good for a blue. The Service manager, Emilio Garcia, is surprised when Mike is so happy the job has been done on time. Dealers in Oz have left us easily pleased.

jerez 009.jpg

Emilio: “What part of manana don’t you understand gringo?”

Granada was just too cold for us, and we had already extended our stay because of the breakdown, so we packed and skedaddled. There had to be somewhere warm in Spain and our mission had become to find it. We headed west towards Cadiz and the coast.

On the excellent Spanish A roads we made great time flying up through the mountain passes and across endless plains of olive trees. The size of the plantings is amazing and we chatted about our friends Azzat and Nola wondering how their olive oil business in South Lebanon is going and how John Cominos is going with his Queensland olives.

jerez 011.jpg

It was about 4 degrees C with a wind chill of 130 kph when Jo took off her gloves to take this shot of olive groves. It was going to be published regardless of quality.

Our destination was the town of Jerez de la Frontera (the locals pronounce it Heireth). Not on the usual tourist short list but of interest to us as it is the home of the world sherry industry and all of the large sherry houses (called Bodegas). It is also Andalusia’s horse capital and is a hot-bed of flamenco due to the large gitano community. The town has about 185,000 inhabitants, lots of rich bastards thanks to the sherry industry, but high unemployment because the sherry industry is all there is.

Our decision to stay 4 days in Jerez was less related to the town’s attractions and more to the fact that Thursday 6 December and Saturday 8 December are both public holidays, and as we found on All Saints Day in Barcelona, the locals were sure to take the Friday off and make it a four day weekend. We decided the best option was not to be looking for food and lodgings at this time.

Within a few hours we had walked the town and discovered that Jerez has:

jerez 043.jpg

Lots of nice public spaces and expensive shops…

jerez 012.jpg

…most of which have been spoiled by graffiti.

jerez 048.jpg

A great 2nd hand book market on Thursday nights…

jerez 033.jpg

…and lots of orange and jacaranda trees shading the streets.

jerez 015.jpg

We find lots of tourists in the town on the public holiday, but the vast majority are Spanish discovering their own country. The English and Germans come in the summer. This little tourist train is sponsored by one of the large bodegas, Gonzalez Byass, which produces the Tio Pepe brand.

The town has considerable English influence and several of the bodegas are English owned. The financial investment in Jerez dates back to the 17th century but really took off in the 19th century when the English army brought back a taste for sherry after the Napoleonic war. It has brought wealth to some, but many poor areas of the city remain and, as the photo above shows, spill over to the wealthy parts of town.

The great thing about travelling off season is that you often have nice things for yourself. This proved to be the case when we were the only starters for the English language tour of the Gonzalez Byass bodega. We had the guide, Andrea, to ourselves for the tour and no need to fight the crowds.

jerez 037.jpg

The English language guide, Andrea, was from Slovakia, spoke excellent English and Spanish and was informative company for the 90 minute tour. She looked a million dollars in her smart corporate overcoat too, with us in the same old riding gear.

After the stinginess of the French, we almost laughed out loud when we were given a table in the tasting room and had an un-opened bottle plonked down with the instruction to try this one first, a sweeter one would follow. We are not sure how the Spaniards define “tasting”, but this was more like “drinking” where we come from.

jerez 042.jpg

Mike makes a start on the chilled Palomino Fino.

We rolled out with a rosy glow after two hours and headed home for a siesta pleased that we had spent our €18 well.

jerez 036.jpg

The public statue of the founder of the Gonzalez Byass bodega, Manuel Gonzalez Angel.

Not wishing to be seen as only interested in wine, we stepped out to visit the Alcazar of Jerez. This was the citadel and residence of the emir during the Arabic period from the 12th century. Like many national monuments in Spain, this one was well presented and organised without being over-done. Of particular interest was the original olive oil mill.

jerez 019.jpg

The olives were crushed by a mill stone pushed around by a donkey...

jerez 016.jpg

…. The resulting paste was then put onto round woven mats, stacked under the press then squeezed using an 18 m lever pushed up with a screw. The oil was allowed to settle in a sump to allow the impurities to settle to the bottom before being siphoned off for bottling.

Elsewhere in the palace a complete 19th century pharmacy had been restored. Ever the scientist, Jo was very taken with:

jerez 029.jpg

…the beautifully restored and presented display of containers…

jerez 031.jpg


…strange ingredients we were sure you could no longer get in a chemist like “Extracto de Opium”…

jerez 030.jpg

…and great old machines.

Our final visit for Jerzez was to be the National Flamenco Museum. Unfortunately we made the mistake of visiting on the Feast Day of the Annunciation only to find that it was closed during the public holiday.

Normally we would have been surprised that a museum was closed during a public holiday, but since the times for opening and closing of all manner of things had completely eluded us during our month in Spain, we shrugged our shoulders and went looking for a tapas bar instead.

In some way, however, the closed museum was emblematic of our time here. We turned up, but it was closed.

The day we left Jerez for the short ride to the coastal port of Algeciras and a boat to Morocco, we planned to have breakfast at a nice café just around the corner from the hotel. We packed the bike and rode around the corner to find the placed closed and a couple of locals peering in and checking their watches. Spain can be like that. We didn’t stop but kept riding south with Mike humming an old Dylan song in his helmet. The verses were a little confused, but the pretty tune was strong and melodic:

Spanish is the loving tongue,
soft and gentle like the rain.
Was a girl I learned it from
while travelling down Sonora way…


Posted by Mike Hannan at December 09, 2007 06:47 PM GMT
 


HU DVD Summer Special!

Now that summer is here, get On the Road! Take 30% off the Achievable Dream - On the Road! 2-DVD set until August 31 only. Get On the Road! Learn the tips to staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure!

Our veteran travellers share their tips (and great stories) for staying healthy, happy and secure on your motorcycle adventure.

"A fantastic, informative and inspirational DVD."

"It's brilliant - thank you very much!"

Check it out at the HU Store! Remember to use Coupon Code 'ONTHEROAD' on your order when you checkout.


Renedian Adventures


Renedian Adventures

What others say about HU...

"I just wanted to say thanks for doing this and sharing so much with the rest of us." Dave, USA

"Your website is a mecca of valuable information and the DVD series is informative, entertaining, and inspiring! The new look of the website is very impressive, updated and catchy. Thank you so very much!" Jennifer, Canada

"...Great site. Keep up the good work." Murray and Carmen, Australia

"We just finished a 7 month 22,000+ mile scouting trip from Alaska to the bottom of Chile and I can't tell you how many times we referred to your site for help. From how to adjust your valves, to where to stay in the back country of Peru. Horizons Unlimited was a key player in our success. Motorcycle enthusiasts from around the world are in debt to your services." Alaska Riders

contest pic

10th Annual HU Travellers Photo Contest is on now! This is an opportunity for YOU to show us your best photos and win prizes!

NEW! HU 2014 Adventure Travel T-shirts! are now available in several colors! Be the first kid on your block to have them! New lower prices on synths!

HU 2014 T-shirts now in!

Check out the new Gildan Performance cotton-feel t-shirt - 100% poly, feels like soft cotton!


What turns you on to motorcycle travel?


Global Rescue, WORLDwide evacuation services for EVERYONE

Global Rescue is the premier provider of medical, security and evacuation services worldwide and is the only company that will come to you, wherever you are, and evacuate you to your home hospital of choice. Additionally, Global Rescue places no restrictions on country of citizenship - all nationalities are eligible to sign-up!


New to Horizons Unlimited?

New to motorcycle travelling? New to the HU site? Confused? Too many options? It's really very simple - just 4 easy steps!

Horizons Unlimited was founded in 1997 by Grant and Susan Johnson following their journey around the world on a BMW R80 G/S motorcycle.

Susan and Grant Johnson Read more about Grant & Susan's story

Membership - help keep us going!

Horizons Unlimited is not a big multi-national company, just two people who love motorcycle travel and have grown what started as a hobby in 1997 into a full time job (usually 8-10 hours per day and 7 days a week) and a labour of love. To keep it going and a roof over our heads, we run events (22 this year!); we sell inspirational and informative DVDs; we have a few selected advertisers; and we make a small amount from memberships.

You don't have to be a Member to come to an HU meeting, access the website, the HUBB or to receive the e-zine. What you get for your membership contribution is our sincere gratitude, good karma and knowing that you're helping to keep the motorcycle travel dream alive. Contributing Members and Gold Members do get additional features on the HUBB. Here's a list of all the Member benefits on the HUBB.


Books & DVDs

amazon

All the best travel books and videos listed and often reviewed on HU's famous Books page. Check it out and get great travel books from all over the world.


Motorcycle Express for shipping and insurance!

Motorcycle Express

MC Air Shipping, (uncrated) USA / Canada / Europe and other areas. Be sure to say "Horizons Unlimited" to get your $25 discount on Shipping!
Insurance - see: For foreigners traveling in US and Canada and for Americans and Canadians traveling in other countries, then mail it to MC Express and get your HU $15 discount!

Story and photos copyright ©

Sorry, you need a Javascript enabled browser to get the email address and dates. You can contact Horizons Unlimited at the link below. Please be sure to tell us WHICH blog writer you wish to contact.

All Rights Reserved.

Contact the author:

Editors note: We accept no responsibility for any of the above information in any way whatsoever. You are reminded to do your own research. Any commentary is strictly a personal opinion of the person supplying the information and is not to be construed as an endorsement of any kind.

Hosted by: Horizons Unlimited, the motorcycle travellers' website!
You can have your story here too - click for details!