Then off again on our journey. As we got closer to El Puerto de Santa Maria we kept catching glimpses of storks, and these seemed to reappear everywhere during our holiday.
We eventually reached our hotel around 6:30 and it was amazing to think that we were still in Andalucía. After dinner some of us went out for an exploratory walk and some of us (including yours truly) collapsed into bed. It’s funny how a days travelling can tire you out so much. Perhaps all the information I’d been given and places I had seen had taxed my brain.
We also saw more storks – nesting on top of the Cathedral/Iglesia Mayor Prioral. She then gave us a map and left us to our own devices until we took the ferry to Cádiz at mid-day.
In Cádiz, we were again given a map of the city. We were told that it was the first real city in the Western world, settled in 1110 BC by the Phoenician, Hercules. Its golden age came in the 18th century when Cádiz monopolised trade with Columbus’ New World. Also the first Spanish Constitution was written here in 1812 at a time when Napoleon’s troops dominated the rest of the country. We were then left to our own devices for the afternoon. We went our separate ways, had some lunch, and a wander before returning to the coach for a trip around the perimeter of the city where Rebeca pointed out places of historical interest. Then we had a quick stop at the Parque Genovés where most of us bought ice creams (a frequent purchase during our perambulations) and had a stroll amongst the beautiful plants and flowers. Finally, back to the hotel for dinner, a walk and bed.
She had planned to take us to a clock museum, but as this was closed for refurbishment she took us, instead, to the Alcázar. She handed us over to a lovely lady called Juani who gave us a very interesting tour of the building and its grounds. I loved it and could really feel how it must have been when it was a live palace/fortress.
Then off to what – for me – was going to be the highlight of the trip – a performance from the Andalucían horses at the Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre. In the event, I loved the displays of carriage riding and the dressage. The horses were just beautiful and the rider’s costumes immaculate. But I felt slightly uncomfortable with some of the ‘tricks’ the horses were made to perform – especially the famous dancing in the air. It looked very unnatural and hard on the horses. We had a very interesting debate about this at dinner. One felt that a horse will not do anything it does not really want to do. Another felt that if it is hurt enough it will comply. Who knows?
We then had time for a quick lunch in the centre of Jerez. We were a bit later than planned because we had stayed back in the shop to buy mementos of the horse displays – and take photos of yet another stork – nesting on top of a tree.
After lunch we visited the Tio Pepe bodega. We had a ride round the site in a little train; an excursion of the bodega showing the different Sherries, wines and brandies being produced; and a tasting. Then we were let loose in the shop. I don’t think many of us came away empty-handed.
On Friday morning we sadly gathered in the hotel foyer, time to say Adios, or, more probably, hasta luego. This was, in the event, just a ‘taster’, an idea of what to see next time.
Sandra had asked that we go back by the coast road and stop off at interesting places, rather than just motorway cafeterias. So the first stop was at Puerto Banús. Just as well that we only had time for coffee as that cost €3.50 a cup in most places. But it was lovely to see those gorgeous boats and imagine what it must be like to have real money.
On the way, we caught sight of Gibraltar across the water and one of our members even received a welcome to Morocco on his mobile phone – a taste of future trips.
Then we stopped for lunch at Nerja, with time to visit that lovely ‘Balcon’. While we were there a wedding group (father, bride and bridesmaids) were posing for photos and we imagined the poor groom anxiously waiting at the altar in the nearby church. This was also where we said a sad ‘Adios’ to Rebeca, who had to go on to Malaga to meet her next lucky trippers.
On the way home we passed by Salobreña where Ken has plans for an excursion in autumn 2013. (Another packed year of interesting trips).
We finally arrived back in the Almanzora Valley with some lovely memories.
Thanks to Sandra for keeping us supplied with sweeties and organising raffles on the way there and on the way back. Can’t wait for the next one.