Leaving Arcos de la Frontera, we quickly dropped down out of the hill towns into Jerez; best known for their sherry and brandy winery region, flamenco dancing and the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Catching the horse show at noon (not available every day, so plan ahead) was spectacular and I’d recommend going early to wander the grounds and watch the horses and trainers warm up.
As for the sherry tasting, there are bodegas everywhere. Take your pick, have a seat and enjoy the view. If sherry isn’t your thing, there are many historic churches to wander through. And in this region, they have no qualms about celebrating the founding of the sherry industry, Tio Pepe, alongside their famous Cathedral of San Salvador! Both appear to encourage the celebration of life in their own way.
Now the plan was to spend the night in Jerez and if we had time, drive down to Cadiz to see the old port city. In retrospect, this was the only part of the trip I would have changed because when we got to Cadiz the next day, it was a wonderful old beach city. I would have spent the night here instead of Jerez.
From the old fortress of Castillo de Santa Catalina to the Plaza de San Antonio and the Cadiz Cathedral, this was a vibrant and fun city.
As we headed out of town, consulted the map and began the journey northward to Seville, it looked very straightforward. How hard could this be, especially after navigating the winding crazy roads of the hill towns? Well, for the first time, I’ll admit that the roundabouts got us. Circling around with a choice of 8 exits and limited signage, we were soon to discover there was a big difference between highway A4 and highway AP-4 . . .
After sorting that out, learning how to buy gas in another language and making our way to the outskirts of Seville, we were to learn another lesson; get a very good, detailed old-fashioned hard copy map of the city before you have to try to find the train station and return your rental car! It was raining as we entered the city and once again we were Siri-less. No internet connection and limited signage had us driving around in circles. Luckily, a friendly local helped us when we stopped and asked for directions. However upon finding the station, we were then unable to find the rental car return location! After calling the Madrid hotline and seriously thinking of just parking the car and telling them where we had left it, we eventually found the drop off. And while I missed our valiant, faithful VW Polo, I was never so glad to hop into a cab and let someone else navigate the narrow, crazy streets to our hotel!