Once arrived in Puerto de Santa Maria, we started our stroll through this historic town which is part of Andalusia’s Sherry Triangle. Famous sherry bodegas like Osborne, Terry and Caballero are located here. We checked out the famous seafood tapas, the old parochial church, the 13th century castle and the bullfighting arena which dates from 1880. By 5:30 pm we were back in Cadiz and visited the fortification of San Sebastian and took a pleasant evening stroll through this animated town.
On April 17, 2011 we embarked on another excursion – this time to the historic hill town of Arcos de la Frontera, which was part of the frontier in Spain’s 13th century battle against the Moors. Our drive took us through green rolling hills with dozens and dozens of wind turbines – Spain is a leader in renewable energy generation. Arcos itself is located on a sandstone crag next to the Guadalete River and from various lookout points it offers majestic views over the surrounding countryside.
The Moorish street pattern consists of narrow, irregular streets and walkways; its white-washed houses usually feature interior patios that are decorated with lots of flowers. We happened to come across a Palm Sunday procession where a large group of women, dressed in white and red, were carrying a very heavy statue of the Virgin Mary, accompanied by the town’s orchestra which was playing somber tunes.
We enjoyed some tasty tapas next to the cathedral and also visited the Parador (one of the many luxury hotels run by the Spanish government) of Arcos de la Frontera before continuing our excursion to Medina Sidonia, another one of the “pueblos blancos” in the late afternoon. These white-washed villages were built by the Moors on various promontories throughout the region.
Medina Sidonia’s history actually goes back further than that as there was already a settlement in its location during Phoenician times. We walked up to the highest point in town from where we enjoyed a phenomenal view over the surrounding countryside. Then we visited the Iglesia de Santa Maria la Coronada and walked all the way up to the church tower where the wind was almost unbearable. Finally we returned to Conil where we enjoyed a relaxing evening.