In a previous blog, Celebrating Sherry in Jerez, we mentioned we met a wonderful couple, Lola and Pepe, one evening at a sherry and food pairing event. So began a few weeks of the four of us enjoying wonderful adventures together.
It all began after the wine pairing event when they asked us to join them at one of their favorite restaurants, Albores. Along with a glass of red wine, we had the most amazing tuna tartar tapa. Wow! Our Spanish skills and their English skills are similar so we used technology to translate much of the conversation. Thank goodness for Google Translate and other translation apps. We had a lovely evening and Lola and Pepe invited us to lunch the following day at their home.
It was a short 10 minute walk to their lovely home. Along with two of their other friends there were 6 of us for lunch. Both Lola and Pepe love cooking and they served a delicious lunch beginning with a variety of tapas, freshly steamed and cooled langostinos, our favorite cold soup, salmorejo with toppings, followed by the best paella we’ve had in Spain. Despite the communication challenges, there was never a lull in the conversation. We truly spent the most enjoyable afternoon with them and their good friends.
Vejer de la Frontera
Our next adventure together was a car trip to visit the beautiful town of Vejer de la Frontera.
The old city of Vejer is surrounded by city walls that date back to the 13th century. The town is perched on a hill and on a clear day you can see the coast of Africa, or so we were told. Unfortunately it was cloudy during our visit.
Until the late 19th century water mills were used to make flour but in the 1960’s a number of windmills were built just outside the walls around the town. Today, these photogenic beauties have become an emblem for this town.
Strategically placed statues, called ‘El Cobijao – The Veiled women of Vejer’, caught our attention. We found a number of colorful and artistic representations of the veiled women. The original outfit worn included a long black skirt, a white blouse with a black sash and gathered together over that, a black cloak. The black cloak would be lifted up and used to cover the head and then the wearer would be completely covered except for one eye. Today the costume is worn during patron saint’s days. These beautiful veiled statues are another unique feature of Vejer.
Vejer is also becoming known as a culinary destination and the restaurant that had been recommended to Pepe for lunch was excellent. The menu offered a fusion of cuisines from around the world.
On our return trip we first drove west to the Atlantic Ocean (sounds odd to us since we have lived near the Pacific Ocean all of our lives and the Atlantic Ocean was always east). This part of the Atlantic coast is called the Costa de la Luz or Coast of Light. El Palmar is a long carefully protected and maintained natural beach with fine sand and clear waters. It is only 9 kilometers or 5.5 miles from Jerez so a popular destination for locals.
We next drove past salt marshes. The salt marshes are a natural source of sea salt and the sea salt harvested is highly prized for cooking. When the marshes flood at high tide, farmers have a series of walls and gates to regulate the level of the seawater and as the water evaporates under the hot sun, the salt is left behind.
Vejer is another Andalusian white village. It is very clean and has created a welcoming environment for tourists. We thoroughly enjoyed our day trip to Vejer de la Frontera and the surrounding area with our amazing Spanish friends. Without them we may have missed this gem.
One warm evening there were 5 of us that met up for drinks. Pepe first stopped at a specialty candy tienda (shop) and bought a package of mixed nuts. We all strolled down to a tiny tienda called La Queseria, a specialty cheese shop. The owner was behind the counter. He pulled out 3 chairs for some of us to sit (no room for any more) then began offering glasses of wine and sherry.
We chose from a wonderful variety of cheeses, including Payoyo, that he then sliced up for us. Payoyo was named Spain’s best cheese in 2013! he served the cheese slices came with crackers and the tastiest toppings including mermelada de alcachofa or artichoke, smoked tuna and pate de tagarninas (the edible root of the golden thistle plant also often called the Spanish Oyster Plant). Pepe asked for some bowls so he could add the nuts and raisins he had purchased elsewhere completing our ‘picnic’. I love the ‘anything goes’ attitude here!!!
At one point we looked out the window into the small street as a horse and buggy rode by followed by a large city bus. The entire evening was wonderful, albeit surreal.
Palacio del Tiempo
The following Sunday we met up with Lola and Pepe and walked over to the Palace of Time. This is a wonderful antique clock and watch museum with most pieces from the 17th to 19th century. It is one of a few clock museums whose pieces are all in working order.
The museum was free on this day, so very popular and crowded. It has a sensational collection of clocks to discover and we are considering a second visit. A nice bonus was we heard many of the clocks chime at noon.
Following the museum visit the four us wandered through the surrounding gardens hoping to catch site of the ‘pavos real’ (peacocks) that live there then we slowly sauntered (it was 30°c / 90°f outside) over to Fundador Tabancos for sherry and tapas. After saying ‘hasta luego’ to Lola and Pepe, we returned home for a siesta and a swim. Such a nice way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
After we left Jerez de la Frontera our next destination was Sevilla, Spain. We were delighted when our friends decided to drive up to visit us one afternoon. The four of us explored a beautiful church, did a little shopping, enjoyed a final farewell dinner and more importantly, made tentative plans to meet up again next year.
We had already discovered that the people of Spain are wonderfully warm and friendly. We have met so many people and laughed together over our mutual attempts at speaking each other’s language. Over the years we have played charades and when our Spanish words fail us, acting out a thought or idea as you do in charades, has occasionally come in handy. With regard to Spanish hospitality though, meeting Pepe and Lola will be our longest and fondest of memories. We had such a fantastic visit in Jerez de la Frontera because of the time we enjoyed with these two lovely people.
Salud from the Jerezanos,
Ted & Julia
(click on any picture to go to slideshow view)