Andalucía: Tips After 50 Years of Travel

Donald B. Harris | June 2023

Dear Friends,

Recently I realized that my wife and I have been traveling in Spain for over fifty years! Since 1965, when we rented a tiny SEAT 500, it seems we have visited every nook and cranny of our favorite country. Now and then one of you asks me for advice as to where to launch your first visit to Spain. If it were me, I would start in my favorite region of Andalucía, in the deep south of Spain.

Whenever we visit Andalucía, we are always embraced by people with such warmth and kindness. It seemed to me that treating each person as a child of God was the norm. If I were to make a brief trip there, I probably would begin with the fabulous city of Sevilla. The cathedral is huge and astonishing, one of the biggest in the world. Christopher Columbus’ tomb is there in quite a fancy display. It was originally the site of a fabulous mosque built by the Moors, and the impressive 342-foot tall Giralda minaret (now bell tower) still stands! 

Right across the street is the astonishing Alcazar (fortress) built by Pedro of Castile in the Mudéjar style – a visit will transport you to the luxurious life of medieval royalty. After sightseeing all day, you can recover at an amazing variety of tapas bars in the cathedral area. 

Then I would head down the autovia (highway) to Jerez de la Frontera. This beautiful small city is the center of sherry wine production, and when you stroll the orange tree lined streets you can smell the sherry in the nearby bodegas. In addition, it has a training center full of gorgeous Lipizzaner horses. The May horse fair in the spring is a sight to behold with the lovely señoritas in their feria dresses riding in horse-drawn carriages.

Then I would drive over to the next of the three sister sherry towns, El Puerto de Santa María, and visit my dear friends Carmen and Juan Carlos, who own a boutique sherry bodega named Gutierrez Colosia. They produce some of the very best sherry, and a variety of tasty vinegars, which we use at home every day. It is worth the experience, they are the finest expressions of ‘duende,’ the Spanish communal spirit.

Right across the street from their bodega you will find a ferry that will take you across the harbor to Cádiz, a 3,000-year-old city which they claim was founded by Hercules! The real treat is the local market, located next to the cathedral. You will see hundreds of different kinds of creatures from the sea. Be sure to snack on ‘pescaito frito,’ this local fried seafood is famous across Spain.

From Cádiz, you can take a ferry to Rota and then on to Sanlúcar de Barrameda, the third sherry town. It has a relaxing plaza called El Cabildo. And it is easy to while away hours sitting in the sun under the bougainvillea vines eating tapas and drinking Manzanilla sherry. There is a market in this little town which is fun to peruse. Down the street is where the Magellan crew embarked on a voyage to circle the globe. 

My caution is this, if you come in the summer, it can be very hot, so bring your hat, your fan and your bathing suit. I prefer the time around Easter when the horse fair is in all its splendor. It seems everyone has a horse or a carriage. And everyone has a glass of sherry.

Tu amigo,