Edit Blog Post
Published: June 13th 2017
Geo: 36.5099, -4.88635Monkeying Around
Monday, October 3, 2016
From Seville we headed south to Jerez de la Frontera, Spain's horse and sherry country. We toured the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, located on the grounds of a 19th-century mansion designed by the architect of the Paris Opera, Garnier.
First up on the tour were some carriages and coaches (can you imagine? two coach museum tours in one itinerary?) and then a visit with some of the famous Andalusian horses. Several have medaled in dressage at the Olympics. They are exquisite. Mostly we saw them being groomed, and others being trained. We saw academy students taking lessons in the arena.
On the same site, we were given a tour of the House of Sandeman, one of the places producing Spain's famous sherry. Following the tour, they offered a wine tasting and tapas lunch in their "bodega".
After lunch, we were off to Gibraltar – passports were required as we were entering a British territory (the Brits have been in possession for nearly 300 years, and the culture and architecture are a hodgepodge of British and Spanish). Passport inspection was a little loose, as there are thousands of visitors who walk over the border each
Barbary apes at Gibraltar -- eating a peach
I think this guy will be one of my entries in the Tauck photo contest.
hour. I guess on a very clear day, you can view the African continent (Morocco) but not so today. It was sunny but hazy.
We boarded smaller buses capable of navigating the very steep and winding roads up the rock. First thrill: driving across an active runway! Sort of like a railroad crossing, only different. Both pedestrians and vehicles cross the runway, controlled by traffic lights. The Royal Air Force and civilians use the airport constructed in WWII on the town's race track.
The ride itself was thrilling too. The road, which was rough and tumble, took us dangerously close to cliffs and others vehicles. An amusing guide entertained us with his clever shtick.
On top, 1000 feet above sea level, we visited St. Michael's Cave, a natural grotto inhabited by the Neanderthals, visited by Romans, serving as emergency hospital during WWII and functioning as an event space for concerts in the present day.
But the highlight of the trip was our encounter with the Rock's pack of Barbary Apes. Introduced in 1750, some 200 apes roaming freely on the upper rock. You can tell they are only a few genes away from humans; their interaction with us was incredible. Loved the guy eating
the peach -- I am sure he will be one of my entries in the Tauck photo contest.
We continued on along the Mediterranean coast to Marbella on the Costa del Sol, an elegant jet-set resort area with exquisite beaches and shopping to match the pockets of the jet setters. Joe, our Tauck Tour Guide, walked us through the shopping, which is just lovely … pretty painted buildings, plants and palm trees and cute outdoor cafes. Hope to head back there for some shoe/purse shopping and perhaps dinner tomorrow evening.
We checked in to the Gran Melia Don Pepe Hotel, a Miami like hotel sitting right on the Mediterranean. The grounds are lush; the action is lively. Our room has a balcony overlooking the sea and the tropical setting.
We had dinner with Charlie Walkonis and Patty Hearn of Yonkers, NY, and Les and Judy Bostwick of Atlanta. It was Les' birthday so that was extra fun. Dinner (mine was grilled octopus) was delish and we laughed a lot as we shared stories.
Tomorrow is a day at leisure. We had considered golf but Patrick is a little under the weather (headache and aching knees) so we may just relax. I do that so
Tot: 2.738s; Tpl: 0.042s; cc: 11; qc: 29; dbt: 0.0215s; 2; m:saturn w:www (188.8.131.52); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.3mb