Travel Diary May 2021
We were spending three days in Cadiz and a friend suggested we do a day trip to Jerez de la Frontera. I’d been told stories of the pretty whitewashed buildings and the Jerez Flamenco Festival that brings the city alive in February, so I knew I had to visit.
We were there in May, in the second week. Barcelona was still jeans and jumper weather, but Andalusia in the south was already reaching thirty degrees. That day in Jerez the temperature was pure Southern Spain. A deep blue sky, sun that was a weight upon your shoulders, and heat that slows your steps and makes you seek the shade.
Our friends were meeting us in Jerez, so while we waited we found a small café just off the main square and ordered café con leche y hielo (iced coffee). Our baby wasn’t sleeping very well (turned out he was growing three teeth at once) and we were operating on the smallest amount of sleep.
Once our friends arrived, we slowly walked from the main square to the Alcázar and Cathedral of Jerez. A quiet square (Alameda Vieja) beside the Alcázar captured my attention. It was ringed by jacaranda trees and they were all flowering. Purple petals waved in the small, cooling breeze and scattered across the rust-coloured stones in the plaza. It was a perfect place, seen at a perfect moment in time, and we had it all to ourselves.
From there we walked past the Cathedral, and then made our way to our lunch place, Tabanco las Banderillas. Our friend is a local Andalusian and highly recommended this restaurant for authentic Andalusian food.
Banderillas is an old tavern with ancient barrels in the corner and bullfighting photos, paintings and posters all over the walls. Locals clustered around small tables, talking and gesticulating loudly and creating a swell of noise. For a second the baby’s bottom lip started going down, as he tried to process the noise, but a cuddle with Dad saved the day.
Our table was in the corner, pressed into the wine barrels. The waiters were all above fifty and played with our baby, making faces or talking to him with that special Andalusian accent. Cadiz becomes Cadi, gracias becomes gracia, vamos becomes vamo.
Our friend ordered pork solomio, crumbed eggplant, clams and croquetas, all specialties of Andalusia and the restaurant. The service was fast, and the food was delicious. We ate every bite, savouring the rich flavours while passing the baby between the four of us to keep him entertained.
We left Bannderillas feeling full and satisfied. By this time it was siesta, and the streets of Jerez were deserted. Searching for shade from the fierce sun we stepped into a famous Flamenco bar. Our friend told us stories of the packed crowds; the dancing accompanied by the stomping and clapping; the heartbreaking singing. Today we were the only ones in the bar. We drank sweet white wine and talked about life before the pandemic while the baby fell asleep.