As I was warming up my fingers to tap out another blog post, I realised that it has been a whole month since I last wrote. How has that happened? Time seems to have just evaporated into thin air these past few weeks. It’s possibly because my studies have recently stepped up a notch, so a lot of my days just fly by as I work against the clock trying to keep up. But rest assured, i’ve also tried to balance my ‘hard work’ with day trips and mini expeditions, the latest destinations being Jerez de la Frontera and Ronda.
Jerez is a little town about an hour from Sevilla, very close to Cádiz. I decided to just pop down for the morning and see what it had to offer. I started off the day the best way possible with some delicious salmorejo (cold tomato soup) that I got for free with my eggs at brunch – a very welcome surprise. Then, I wandered through the markets and little streets in the warm breath of the sun, stopping off at yet another cathedral and alcázar. They were just as beautiful and unique as all the other cathedrals and alcázars I have seen though. I especially loved the alcázar; it was more simplistic and less ‘poncy’ than others I have seen, and my favourite bit was the cool of the old roman baths which had little star shaped sky lights in the roof. Imagine that, bathing under the light of (not quite) a thousand stars. How majestic.
I also made sure to sample some sherry whilst I was there, since Jerez is where the grape comes from to make it. My Spanish failed me the first time around and I accidentally ordered just an ordinary, but very good, glass of white wine. So I ‘had to’ have two drinks with lunch…shame. Whilst it’s not my favourite drink, it was an alternative way to immerse myself in the culture and also finally taste what I kept getting whiffs of throughout the day as the perfume from nearby wineries traveled on the wind.
So Jerez, check. Next stop, Ronda! A little trickier to get to with it’s two and a half hour bus journey, this little mountainous city has been a hit with lots of my friends here so I was determined to give it a visit. Unfortunately, it was chucking it down with rain for most of the day, but with umbrella in hand and rain coat on my back, I was well prepared. And whilst I would love to go back and see Ronda in all its sunshine-y glory if I get the chance, the moody grey clouds almost made the steep gorges more dramatic, so all was not lost. I just made sure to take lots of little pit stops and soak up some café culture whilst I was at it. The three bridges, particularly the Puente Nuevo which spans from the base of the gorge to 390 feet high, are seriously impressive, as well as the surrounding countryside, the gardens and the city walls. And to add to the drama, there was some sort of marathon going on so throughout the day I could hear shouts of celebration across the city when somebody crossed the finish line – sweaty, muddy, and drenched from the rain. Talk about community spirit!
Among my travels this month, I popped back across the channel and took a trip to Edinburgh for my wonderful sister’s hen do! And what a beautiful city it is. It is steeped in culture and history, and is the perfect balance between edgy but old school. Although we saw most of the main sights whilst we were there, I am desperate to go back and wander through the little forgotten streets, and try out all the little independent cafés and delis that caught my eye. It was the perfect location for a hen weekend, and we had the best time; lots of proper belly laughs, silly fun, and celebration. But after that and few days at home catching up with family, it was time to jet back off again.
It’s the final stretch of the marathon now. I’ve just got to keep putting one foot in front of the other and take each day as it comes. But I am determined to keep my gaze off of the pavement and instead look around and enjoy my beautiful surroundings. Soon it will be Feria de Abril (April Fair) in Sevilla which is a week-long spring festival with lots of flamenco, street food and celebration, which will be really fun! So, keep your eyes peeled for a post all about that, and we’ll speak soon!