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Report 2007: Rambling through Southern Andalucia

By kathyk from Michigan, Spring 2012

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Page 6 of 11: Medina Sidonia

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View from our hostal room over countryside around Medina

It is a steep climb up to the old center of Medina Sidonia, our hotel was even higher up, near the remains of the old castle. I missed the street the first time and had to make the whole circuit again. The street leading up to our hotel has all the elements to make it very difficult, one must slow down from the one way, uphill street, usually with impatient drivers behind you, to enter the other street at about a 60 degree angle, then slow down even more to squeeze through the one car width hole in the old city walls. At that point the driver is faced with an even steeper climb. So, momentum is needed exactly here but the climb is so steep that one must stop the car and put it into first gear just to get up the hill. But after passing the old church you reach the hotel and your reward is a big empty lot to easily park the car.

Our hotel is already reviewed in the hotel section (link in Resources). Just to state again that we had gorgeous views of the Andalusian countryside from the balconies in our rooms. We ate one meal there, a hearty one, served family style, a big platter of roasted meat. We also ate our breakfasts there.

During our time in Medina we walked down to the center, easy going down, hard going back up - but no hassle with the car.

We found Medina Sidonia to be absolutely charming and when compared to Arcos, very non-touristy. Around the major plaza surrounded by benches, pruned orange trees, bars, and pharmacies, there was not even one stand selling post cards. It was always lively with kids and soccer balls, couples pushing their baby strollers and old men sitting on the benches.

There is a lot to see here. The castle is in ruins but from on top we could just make out the Atlantic ocean in the direction towards Cadiz. There is a museum of Roman artifacts. We drove a little out of town to see some still standing Roman bridges. On that excursion, we were right at the gates of the finca owned by Isabel Pantoja. Another museum, set up in an old house in the center of town features the ethnology, of old Medina, lots of stuff used through the ages for daily living.

Visiting the various churches, we had a conversation with the parish priest and one of the women of the cofrade, who take care of the pasos (the floats that carry the statues). They were getting theirs ready for the Holy week procession.

Our meals were mostly tapas but I did buy a big bag of my favorite sweet treats, polvorones, manufactured right in Medina. There is another specialty from the bakeries there, Alfajar. It is a paste of ground nuts and figs, shaped into a roll. I have had it before, it is a dense and delightful treat.

We spent only two nights but it is a town to where I would make repeat visits, for its atmosphere and sites to see.

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