Saturday, September 15, 2012

SPAIN: Arcos de la Frontera

Arcos de la Frontera - 2Arcos de la Frontera - 1For our last foray into the Andalucian countryside we wanted something pretty accessible, as we have a five-hour drive on Monday to look forward to. The original plan was to depart yesterday, but Peter wanted his grandchildren to meet Munson, so we’re staying over the weekend – no complaints about that at all!

Away from the coast, the two main options were Jerez de la Frontera (home of sherry), and Arcos de la Frontera.  Peter asked if we’d take him to Arcos as he hadn’t been there in a long time, so that decision was easily made. Both cities are part of the 13th century border between the Christian and Moorish parts of Spain, and hence the de la Frontera (frontier) appended to their names.
view from Arcos de la FronteraArcos is another “white town”, and I think because of its proximity to Seville, Jerez and Cadiz, is rather better known than Medina-Sidonia, and consequently much more touristic. It certainly suffers from having a stream of often too-large rental cars and buses being funnelled through narrow winding streets in its small old centre near the cathedral cresting the town.

whitewashed walls  Spanish platoon of Munsoneers  unhappy church
It turned into quite a hot day, so we forwent lunch in favour of a few drinks and a last loop of the narrow whitewashed streets. As the midday heat bears down, you can see how narrow streets with short blocks for easy turning into the shade work so well. The direct heat will only hit each wall for a short period and you can usually gain shade a few feet away. I often think that Australia’s architecture would have benefited greatly from a more sun-sensitive heritage.

On the road between Arcos and Medina-Sidonia there were many horizontal stone bands in the asphalt to remind people to slow down when passing through small villages. I was amused that they are called bandas sonoras  (sound bands) as that’s also the term for movie soundtracks (or in French: bandes sonores). The term BSO is the French/Spanish equivalent of OST, original soundtrack. Apparently in English, these mechanical road markings are known as rumble strips. The audible white edge-line lane markers are guias sonoras (sound guides).

Off the road we noticed a number of cotton plantations and also quite a few Australian eucalypts which seemed to be thriving in this climate.

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