Guest Post - Spain Travel - Jerez de la Frontera
I have been studying conversational Spanish with Toni Ferrer Studio for several years. In February this year, I had the chance to travel to Spain for the first time, during the flamenco festival in Jerez de la Frontera, and make use of the language skills acquired with Toni.
I felt like I landed in a fairy tale town. The historic center, featuring charming Andalusian buildings, was filled with bitter orange trees full of fruit.
One of the first things I noticed was that everyone was drinking coffee with milk served in a glass. It was frothy, delicious, and half the price of a small cappuccino in our "neck of the woods" - New York. I was looking forward to having my desayuno each day with cafe con leche.
One of my favorite places, to which I returned several times in my ten days there, was the Moorish fortress - Alcazar de Jerez. It is part of a fortification wall that used to surround the citadel. Its landscape combines the Moorish style with typical Catholic monastery walled garden elements.
But let's not forget why I went there in the first place - the flamenco festival!
Flamenco is everywhere in Jerez, from the stages of the internationally renowned festival to tabancos (taverns), and peñas (clubs), to spontaneous shows in the most humble sherry bars, by the most humble street performers.
Less famous than Sevilla or Granada, Jerez is nevertheless one of the most important flamenco centers of Andalusia. Birthplace of the revered flamenco singer, dancer, and actress, Lola Flores, the town features also the Andalucian Centre of Flamenco. One of the main flamenco palos (flamenco styles) is bulerías de Jerez.
Could I have had a good time in Jerez without speaking Spanish? Por supuesto. However, speaking Spanish enabled me to be more than a simple tourist. I was able to enjoy the local culture in a more nuanced way. The genuine friendliness with which I was treated in turn inspired me to further my knowledge of Spanish and Hispanic culture, and hopefully, to return there soon.
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