Guiris Guide to Jerez and Cadizfornia
Spain’s deep south, complete with an accent that would make a Texan proud. Surrounded by el campo (countryside), Jerez produces the best sweet wine in the world. This means you can get up at midday, drive through yellow fields and rolling hills, and wash away your hangover at the beach (or drink it away in Arcos).
They speak Spanish like Aussies speak the queen’s English, and are very proud of their castles, food, and equipo de futbol (which was in the Spanish first division until a corrupt manager left with all the money).
For soccer, surfing and snowboarding, winter’s definitely the time to come. There’s also normally still some surf around (but no snow) in May, when they hold the renowned Feria Del Caballo, where everyone stops to get drunk and dance for a week. And who can say no to that…
Population: 212,226 – not on the same level as Sevilla and Malaga, but still one of the biggest cities in Andalucia.
Language: Español… y un poquito ingles (if you didn’t understand that maybe get on duolingo asap).
Nationalities: There’s a US naval base in Rota, a nearby coastal town, so there are a few Americanos, and the odd group of English backpackers, but compared to bigger cities, very few foreigners – so brush up on your Español…
Surf report: Inland (but not depressingly so). In summer you will have to drive 45 minutes to get barrelled, and in winter (if you’re lucky) only 25. El Palmar (one hour SE of Jerez) is the Hossegor of Andalucia, with beachside restaurants, surf shops, half pipes and ten million sub-par intermediates with the combined aggression of Gabriel Medina and Jeremy Flores after a bad heat. However if you come after August you’ll get consistent waves and (if you’re from Australia or America) smaller crowds than you’re used to.
Cabo Roche gets the same swell as El Palmar but with half the crowds, and on high tide can get a bit like La Graviere. If it’s too big for the beachies (which does happen), try Punta Paloma (right hand point break where you can see Morocco from the lineup), Yerbabuena (another right pointbreak with a bit more power), or Playa Santa Maria (a wedgy, sheltered, beach-break between two groynes, from which you can see Cadiz’s centuries old palaces and castles). Playa Santa Maria is 25 minutes from Jerez (and can be reached by bus or train, as well as car). Cabo Roche is 40 minutes, El Palmar is one hour, and Punta Paloma is an hour and a half (and these are only accessible by car).
Snow Report: Jerez is just three hours from Sierra Nevada, which is better than Australian ski slopes, but not quite as good as somewhere like Andorra or Canada. Book a room for two, bring four (and an inflatable mattress), and make a weekend out of it. Snowboard hire is 10 euros per day. Come between December and March.
Must sees: feeling serious? Here are the serious sights:
Feria de caballo: week long fair held at the end of May every year, there are market stalls, theme park rides, paella, flamenco music, dancing and rebujitos (sherry mixed with 7 up), and this all is before the party really gets going!
Bodegas: due to its unique geography (fertile soil, predictable weather, 300+ days of sun per year) Jerez has been a centre of wine production since well before the Arabs, and even the Romans lived there. There are a few Bodegas where you can engage your inner historian (and more importantly – sample the wine and sherry), we at Stoke recommend Tio Pepe.
La Nueva Tapita: come here for the best value for money (and just, simply, the best) patatas bravas you’ve ever had.
Balcon De Coño: This is a great place to have a long, tranquil, four-hour lunch (all the while listening to soft flamenco guitar), and then throw it all up again as you step a little too close to the edge of this aptly named balcony. Coño is a rather versatile word, sometimes used to express shock, fear, or anger. Located in a white village up in the mountains of Arcos de la Frontera, a twenty five minute drive from Jerez.
Rio De La Miel: River of honey, awesome bushwalk with a waterfall at the end of it.
The alternative cool shit: feeling avant-garde? Here are the Stoke choices:
Comedia: this nightclub is unique in that it encourages patrons to graffiti its walls. This means when you get bored of the conversation you can entertain yourself by staring around the room. If you want to learn Spanish obscenities, philosophy, and how to draw pseudo intellectual (as well as insightful) cartoons, this is a good place to start.
Skating: There’s a cool spot near Plaza de Caballos where you can jump steps, or get pizza at Tabitas and watch other people do it.
Roller-Skate: If you want to fly around at subhuman speeds on a Friday, or cruising in Jerez and get food on a Wednesday, join the facebook group, they’re very friendly – a good way to make Spanish friends if you’ve just arrived.
Under no circumstances does Stoke recommend….
Getting wasted and climbing the statues in Plaza del Mamelon, pretending to ride the horses as if they were actually moving…
Working illegally in an English academy, experiencing the city for free and paying no tax…
Buying more than seven rebujitos in an hour and dancing with all the old ladies at the fair…
No seriously, Stoke does not recommend:
Supporting the ‘splinter’ football team (at least not too vocally). When we went to the local derby between Xerez Club Deportivo and Jerez Industrial there were flares, police, and lots of people yelling me cago en tu puta madre (I shit on your fucking mother), me cago en tus muertos (I shit on your grave) and many more insults (including, but not limited to) shitting on your personal possessions, family members, and sacred views/beliefs.
Asking why there are so many halfway built carparks and buildings (unless you want to get into a lengthy convo about corruption).
Getting drunk and passing out in the south-side of town. Chances are you’ll wake up without your wallet and shoes.