You can see the main sights of Jerez in one busy day, although if you have longer that’s good too. My first day I visited the horses, went to the Tio Pepe Bodega and walked along the castle walls. I could have crammed the cathedral in there too and that would have been the four main must-sees ticked off.
I spent eight days in an Airbnb apartment in Jerez. It made a good base to explore the region. These days I get tired packing up and moving on every day, getting up for early buses and lugging my backpack to the next hostel. That kind of travelling is exhausting to sustain, and so I much prefer to travel by picking a central location, staying for a while and then going out on little side trips from there. You often find it’s cheaper that way anyway (because weekly and monthly rentals are cheaper) and it’s certainly less demanding on your body and your mind.
I took a few day trips on public transport. The train is quite efficient and anywhere on the line from Cadiz up to Sevilla is easy to get to.
Other ideas I had for day trips were nearby Arcos and Sanlucar, but they proved a little more tricky. No trains went to either of those places and so I went to look for buses.
I tried to get a bus to Arcos but it seemed that the last bus back was 11AM, so unless I wanted to stay the night, or pay for a taxi, that was out.
Jerez bus station is a depressing place. It often appeared to be closed and there are no shops (not even a vending machine) and no schedule to tell you where the buses go. Normally just one window was open to sell tickets (to where? Well you’d have to ask the man). Even if you can find a bus going to where you want to go it is likely that there won’t be one back the same day. But no timetables anyway so you have to ask.
If you do find a bus and manage to get a ticket you then walk through a station that is like a ghost station to get to a small parade of bus stops the other side.
I think it is telling that any website I found whilst searching bus schedules out of Jerez station was emblazoned with adverts for car hire. ‘Don’t bother and just drive’ seemed to be the message It’s no wonder the town centres are so clogged up with traffic, which in turn makes the driving even more stressful. Meanwhile, the TV news is full of graphic images of dead bodies being pulled out of car wreckage as some kind of attempt to get drivers to slow down a bit.
In the end I relented and hired a car for a couple of days; there really was no other way to get to smaller towns. Unfortunately I forgot how stressed driving makes me, particularly when I am on my own and have to concentrate to drive, map read and find parking at the same time (I don’t know where this fear came from, I used to drive everywhere without even thinking about it).
The last time I drove I hired a car in London to move some stuff and promptly backed it into a wall (in my defence, it looked like a hedge). That turned out to be an expensive move.
This time I took out insurance, bringing my liability down to zero. Lucky I did, because I scraped a post on the way out of the parking garage and then later hit a fence in my eagerness to grab a space in a carpark.
The whole time I had the car I was on edge. Normally I am a big believer in facing your demons, so that they lose their power over you. However I think maybe it’s time to admit that driving might well be something I confine to the past.