Just the one Mrs Wembley… 6/2/15

I am afraid it will only mean something to you if you are familiar with the TV series ‘On the Up’ from the 1990’s

We worked our way cross country from Sanluca to arrive at Puerto Santa Maria which is a pretty town on the coast across the river from Cadiz. Not having been able to find any cheap/free Aires nearby, we decided to opt for a campsite ‘Camping Playa de las Dunas de San Anton’ (16 euros inc elec. with ACSI) which was almost on the beach, but most importantly had easy access to both Cadiz and Jerez. The campsite was fairly busy with a mixture of French, English and German predominantly, some staying for a couple of nights and some for the winter months, but all seemed to be very friendly and welcoming.

We were concerned that Puerto Santa Maria would be a bit industrial, but quite the opposite, it has a really nice old town complete with its own castle as well as a very plush newer addition in the form of the marina ‘Port Sherry’ and town called ‘Pueblo Sherry’ where the wealthy business people obviously live, commuting into Cadiz each day… an all-round nice place to be.

We took the catamaran over to Cadiz to explore a little further on Monday and although we had been here before and had good memories of the endless cobbled lanes, we wanted to see how it had evolved over the years. It has had a fair amount of investment and is still a really interesting place to visit with lots of little boutique-type shops, two castles (his and hers), as well and a lovely promenade all the round the edge of the town….definitely worth a day trip at least.

On Tuesday we ventured out on the train to Jerez (Sherry – for the English) mixing our cultural visit in with a little sherry tasting …. 🙂

The town of Jerez itself is an inland version of Cadiz – lots of beautiful buildings, cobbled lanes and interesting areas to explore. It is famous for its horses, is the birthplace of flamenco (for some reason I thought that it was Seville) in addition to being where sherry comes from – I am sure that the town comes alive at night, but we didn’t stay late enough to sample the evening entertainment.

From what we could see there appear to be 5+ different types of Sherry – Fino (similar to a very dry, white wine), Oloroso (Slightly less dry, but with a bitter after taste), Oloroso Dulce (Didn’t get to try this one, but I imagine a sweeter version of the Oloroso), Crema (Smooth, sweet and tawny port-like) and Amontillada (again didn’t try this one) … all quite interesting though. As with Porto in Portugal, the town itself has the distilleries dotted around it and offer tastings and tours however, having done quite a few vineyard tours we decided to opt for the ‘bodega’ option which meant visiting one of the 6 ‘Sherry’ bars around town and paying 1 euro for a ‘home-made’ version of one of the above. All the bars / cafes in Jerez served Sherry, but these bodegas offered a bit more of an atmosphere and a ‘tasting’ option if you wanted to partake.

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We both decided that the ‘Crèma’ Sherry was more to our taste and found a little place where the guy persuaded us to try a ‘farmers’ version – I think that just means it was a little less refined, no certification and cheaper – but nevertheless it was as nice as the others we had tried, so we bought a bottle (ok – 2 litres) to take home with us.

Moving on from Puerto Santa Maria, we decided that as we were in the area we would take a trip to Gibraltar so headed along the coast, through some beautiful hilly countryside down to Linea de Conception which is the Spanish town which joins with Gibraltar. We parked up in the Aire (9 euros per night) and looked out at the big rock sticking out of the water …. Quite impressive

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After a peaceful night, with passports and £ Sterling in hand we walked across to Gibraltar, stopping briefly while the Easyjet plan landed on the runway which crosses the road blocking anyone from entering or leaving the country …. Slightly quirky 🙂

The sun was shining, although it was bitter with the wind, so we walked up to the ‘Upper Rock’ through the national park, first taking in the views out to Algeria …

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And then catching up with the locals…

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Although we were oddly quite excited by the concept of being in Gibraltar I don’t think either of us knew what to expect and despite finding the very expensive camera lens that I have just bought for £50 less, we both had a bit of a reality shock on prices. As we still had some M&S vouchers, Keith bought some boxers in Marks and Spencers (can’t go wrong with M&S underwear) and oddly, Gibraltar apparently has the largest Morrisons’ store in the portfolio …. they even have large jars of marmite (Thank you Gonzo 🙂 )… we managed to hold back though and didn’t buy anything else.

Needless to say that we enjoyed the visit, but it won’t be one of the places that we would be rushing back to as there isn’t a huge amount to do there apart from eat in English style bars and restaurants and shopping…..

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