Jerez de la Frontera is definitely a city with a lot of Spanish heritage. It is definitely a city with some Spanish people. And it definitely appears on Google maps even when you zoom out pretty far.
Alex and I really wanted to go to Cadiz while we were in Spain but after weeks of unsuccessful Couch Surfing requesting and searches on airbnb we had to give up – there was no available accommodation within our budget. So yeah, that was the point when I went and zoomed out on Google maps and concluded that Jerez was in the same area and appeared to be a significant city. Another search on airbnb and we had ourselves a room in Jerez de la Frontera.
Here’s why you should pay those extra dollars and get your ass to Cadiz (if you’re a budget traveler that is):
1. Jerez is “the cradle of Spanish Flamenco”!
The flamenco in Jerez is apparently so much better than in the rest of Andalusia that all the real shows are very expensive. Our host in Jerez was convinced that 20-170 EUR was a really good price because “they have both singing and dancing people!”
As we didn’t go I don’t know if the shows in question are divine, but I personally love the small free shows with just a guitar and a dancer/singer in a local venue. We did find a tapas bar that had a free show but it turned out to be stuffed with tourists. Disappointed that most shows were so expensive it seemed that everybody had way fared to this tiny venue to get a taste of this “authentic performance” without having to pay the tip of a jet-plane for the ticket. Having seen my fair share of flamenco I can confidently say that that was not only the most crowded venue I have ever seen but also the poorest performance.
2. Jerez is the “Andaluz capital of horse culture”!
If you are extremely passionate about horses and you want to scrutinize the art of equestrian ballet first hand (or if you just have an unstoppable urge to see these giant awkward animals jump around in circles) feel free to make your way to Jerez’ Royal School of Equestrian Arts and watch the horses dance. The price is merely 30EUR (off season). Or you know… You could find the nearest mini Mercado and get 15 2EUR 40Oz’s and drink them in a random abandoned street. Or spend the money on a ticket out of Jerez. Your call...
3. Jerez is “step one on the famous Sherry Triangle”!
In case you don’t know; sherry is a type of fortified wine, usually consumed by old ladies and patriotic Spaniards. Again, if your are passionate about wine… No actually even if you are passionate about wine I wouldn’t recommend it. But if you are passionate about sherry you will surely enjoy this quirk of Jerez as this is one of the few things the city offers for extremely cheap: At 1EUR pr glass you can choose from the range of 6 famous types. The sherries range from the white and sour “Manzanilla” to the brownish thick and sickingly sweet “Pedro Ximenez”. One thing all the choices have in common is you are most likely unable to finish the glass. I tried three different variations, each time hoping for something mind blowing and worth the hype. Each time I had to put the glass down proclaiming: “Nope, still hate it…”
4. Jerez is “the fifth largest city in Andalusia”!
Although online sources support this fact I am really confused by this. When we visited not only was the center of the city deafingly quiet, but as we walked the different areas we found entire neighbourhoods completely and utterly abandoned. I don’t know if everybody was hiding or if the entire city had decided to go on vacation for the week we were there, but we have never seen a less lively Spanish city. On a side note this was actually our favourite trait of Jerez: we both love exploring abandoned places and Jerez was a paradise for urban exploration. If you are into that kind of thing this city could be worth a visit although most cities in Spain generally have a large amount of abandoned homes and buildings.
5. Jerez is disliked even by its locals...
As we walked through the endless maze of plain white walls with boarded up windows we stumbled upon this lovely piece of art on a wall. “Welcome to Jerez, poverty city, ass of Europe”. Having walked the entire day without finding anything interesting or appealing about Jerez and having just realized that we couldn’t afford any of the interesting tourist attractions we couldn’t help but agreeing! Jerez de la Frontera was an interesting stop on our way. For a week we walked around getting familiar with the streets and parts never actually finding anything special with the exception of a local bazaar where we picked up a new travel buddy: the stuffed monster Gnar! So glad we rescued him out of that corpse of a city.