Friday, June 10, 2011

Hola, Espana!

A room with a view in El Puerto de Santa Maria.

After catching all three flight connections by sheer luck I arrived in Spain last weekend. The southwestern region, known as Andalucia, is where the famous Rioja wine originates and, of course, flamenco. The lovely town of Puerto de Santa Maria in the province of Cadiz is where I shall spend the next few weeks. Last night a friend and I took an evening stroll to the restaurant Casa Flores on Ribera del Marisco for dinner. Our reservation was for 9:00pm, slightly early by Spanish standards, but we were greeted with a smile. The restaurant has a classic and refined interior with wood paneling and vibrant Spanish tiled walls. Original seascape paintings and framed nautical photographs of the region hung about the rear dining room. Plants in hand-painted clay vases decorated window sills, and antique furnishings created an old world atmosphere. We enjoyed succulent local swordfish and a fantastic bottle of red wine from Arcos de la Frontera, a nearby gem of a town...

Our day trip there a few days earlier was dreamy and picturesque. Arcos is a beacon of white that sparkles atop a sandstone cliff. We headed up the Calle Corredera and were delighted as our eyes took in the breathtaking sight of Iglesia de Santa Maria, the town's principle church, which was actually constructed atop an old Arab Mosque. Arcos marks the frontier where Spain battled the Moors in the 13th century. Here one will find three glorious churches that blend Baroque, Gothic, & Renaissance styles. The castle dates to the 15th century and is currently a private residence. But the view of distant hills, fields of chartreuse, and the Guadalete River below is most spectacular.

Iglesia de San Miguel 

Placard at Iglesia de Santa Maria

Flying buttresses of Iglesia de Santa Maria

Clay pots brim with fresh lavender

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