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  • Day893

    The Sherry Golden Triangle

    November 15, 2019 in Spain ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    We have just spent the past 10 days in Sanlúcar de Barrameda, south west Spain, in a rustic aire 50m from the sea inlet and beaches of the Rio Guadalquivir, that runs all the way to Seville, Cordoba, and beyond. The aire is quiet and basic but has plenty of water so we've used on board showers during our stay here. The washing machine has been one of the best (and cheapest at €3) and the drying facilities are quite unique - see photo. The only downside is that the electric is so weak that anything with a heating element does not work. That's fine, we use gas, but it has led to some interesting hairstyles having no hairdryer and hence no photos of me!

    We have fallen in love with this part of Andalusia, which locals refer to as the 'real' Spain. We cannot disagree with them. This area is known as the 'Golden Triangle' because it encompasses the famous sherry producing towns of Sanlúcar, Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria. Each town has its own microclimate that gives its sherry a unique character and style which enables connoisseurs to distinguish the bodegas (sherry producer) by their height above sea level, aspect to the wind and proximity to the water.

    But our visit hasn't all been about sherry. The changeable weather meant a forced stay indoors for a few days, though we managed some beach walks in between showers, and we made the most of the sunshine to visit some sights nearby.

    Sanlúcar itself, apart from being most famous for its ultra-dry Manzanilla sherry that cannot be produced anywhere else, is an understated, but thriving regional town noted for its fish restaurants and horse-racing on the beach in the summer months.

    Chipiona, just 4km away, is home to Spain's tallest lighthouse, with long sandy beaches and a pretty seafront. The beautifully renovated church of Nuestra Senõra de la O, right on the seafront, is a must visit. Out of tourist season, we had it all to ourselves.

    Further down the coast, we visited Rota, a place that Chris had sailed in to when did was based in Gibraltar doing his Yachtmaster qualification. It's also home to a huge naval base. After wandering around the old winding streets, we stopped at a small bar for a tapas lunch of tender deep-fried cuttlefish with garlic potatoes. Making our way back to the marina, we came across many pretty squares and fountains as we turned each corner, as well as a monument to Christopher Columbus who had set sail from these shores.

    A sunny Sunday morning was the perfect time to make for Jerez de la Frontera. We navigated our way through a thriving flea-market underneath the walls of the Alcázar, and found the Tourist Office where we got some great recommendations for a walking tour which took us down narrow, cobbled streets, past magnificent palaces and grand buildings, through beautiful squares and all around locals where dressed in their Sunday best socialising with family and friends in outdoor restaurants and bars. We ended up in El Pasaje, the oldest tabanco (tiny bars where, in the old days, sherry was poured from the cask and tobacco was smoked). As we sampled some local sherry and nibbled perfect tapas, we were treated to a fantastic flamenco trio. We really felt that we were in the 'real' Spain.

    Just like Christopher Columbus, we will return to this region and set out again to enjoy more of the gastronomy, see the 'pueblos blancos', do a proper visit of the famous bodegas, watch the magnificent white Anadalucian horses being put through their paces and, of course, make a trip to the Jerez race circuit.
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