We like a drop of dry sherry so “the sherry triangle” of South West Spain was an obvious choice for a short holiday. We like to mix things up so we also included a bit of whale watching and a trip to the Donana National park.
First up was the seven hour drive south to Tarifa, the southernmost town of Spain. It has a distinctly Moroccan feel to it – not surprising, as upon arrival we could clearly see the Moroccan coast and the city of Tangier across the strait of Gibraltar. However, one of the main reasons for the trip was to sample the very Spanish tapas. So we dropped off our bags at the Hostel El Levante and headed into the old town to sample the delights of a couple of tapas bars washed down with a few finos.
The following day we were up bright and early to go whale watching. There were a number of tour operators but we decided on FIRMM because of their more eco-friendly credentials. It was an interesting trip not least because I didn’t realise that the Spanish and African coasts were so close so we never lost sight of land at any time. But we managed to see dolphins, pilot whales (which are actually a type of oceanic dolphin) and some fin whales, the second largest whale of all.
After whale watching – more tapas at the restaurant Merkado 27.
The following day we were on the move up the coast to Sanlucar de Barrameda but we stopped off on the way at the beautiful hilltop village of Vejer de la Frontera.
In Sanlucar we stayed at the very atmospheric Hotel Posada de Palacio situated just above the old town in the Bairro alto. Not that attractive from the outside…
But really attractive inside, and we had an enormous room.
Near the hotel…
For the following day we had booked a trip to the Donana National Park, the largest nature reserve in Europe. It is supposed to be a hugely important reserve for animals and birds but it must have been the wrong time of year because we saw very few. We managed to get a great photo of a perching buzzard but didn’t see much else. The guide who drove the 4WD bus only spoke Spanish and mainly talked about the plants, trees and sand dunes. At one stage we drove along the beach where there were quite a few men fishing for clams.
Back in Sanlucar it was time for more tapas – this time in the central Plaza del Cabildo
The following day we went to Jerez de la Frontera. We had booked a tour of the Bodegas Lustau for the afternoon so we spent the morning exploring the city, stopping at the fish market and cathedral and a few attractive squares.
And so finally what was to be the highlight of the trip – a visit to one of the Sherry bodegas. Unfortunately it was a real let down. The Bodega, of course, was very atmospheric and to taste a few of the iconic sherries was great but unfortunately the guide was really bad. She was charming and her English was very good but admitting she was new to the job, she really didn’t know her stuff. A shame. Maybe we’ll just have to go a back. In addition, after two years of avoiding COVID and just after all restrictions had been lifted, we managed to catch it. But that’s another story.