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Published: April 30th 2016
That big fat high (anticyclone in the language of those from down under)is still sitting above us and it was just a lovely morning to wake up to with the bright sun and the azure sky from our penthouse apartment bedroom window.
That sky did change a little later in the morning but more about that soon.
Gretchen had sussed out a way to get to Cadiz which on the map doesn’t look that far away but in reality because of a lot of wasteland and water, it is over 30km to drive one way.
She had figured out where a ferry went between Puerto de Santa Maria and downtown Cadiz and the cost at €2.75 each was going to work out cheaper than the petrol to drive, and then find a car park with a fee and all the headache and time spent. She had it all planned for us to sit back on a ferry and take in the scenery as we chugged across the harbour.
Heading out for the 10.45am ferry we noted that the streets were changed considerably from last night when we returned from the birthday celebration dinner when there were people
everywhere. This morning hardly a soul was on ‘Jesus’ street and although there was some traffic down on the riverside road it wasn’t anything like yesterday.
There was a small group of people waiting for the ferry to arrive from Cadiz, mostly tourists who like us had chosen to stay this side of the harbour.
The twin hulled ferry arrived and we got ourselves seats on the upper deck under the shade and we were soon on our way.
Cadiz has a colourful history full of names from Christopher Columbus who started his 2nd voyage of exploration from the port to Sir Francis Drake who fought a great sea battle against the Spanish in 1587 which delayed the sailing of the Spanish Armada for England by a year.
The Bahia de Cadiz is a very large bay and Puerto is located on a river that flows into the bay so our first 10minutes of the 30 minute trip was spent slowly heading towards the ocean past some fishing vessels, a couple of things that looked like they might be part of a drilling rig and a couple of very rusty small vessels that looked like no
one wanted anymore.
As we were part way across we noticed how the azure sky had changed somewhat now that we had a 360deg view and there was that rather unpleasant mustard colour smudge that is often present as the day progresses on the horizon, melding into the azure colour giving it a washed out look. Europe does seem to have a problem with pollution and perhaps that is little wonder the Arctic ice cap is melting fast!
As we drew closer to Cadiz the sight of another of those magnificent bridges that seem to abound in Europe came into sight. The bridge carried traffic on a bit of a short cut from Puerto and the E5 from Seville to the port city. It looked an expensive bridge so we guess it is tolled as there is an alternative but the distance is further to drive and would have been the option for us had we decided to drive.
Entering the Cadiz harbour two cruise ships berthed alongside came into view. One was a P&O ship the ‘Venturer’and the other from that infamous Italian line Costa named ‘Costa Magica’ (We hope it has enough magic to keep
away from rocks unlike the Concordia) We remember the first Costa ship we saw in Dubrovnik in 2009 named ‘Costa Lotta’ (we think that was how it was spelt) and we wonder whether she still sails the ocean!
So we knew that when we completed our journey and hit the tightly packed city there would be about 5000 more people than usually strolling the streets.
Surprisingly even though the old part of the city is relatively small in area there were not the crowds we might have expected so perhaps there had been bus trips out of Cadiz to nearby places like Seville that passengers had taken.
One noticeable thing was that the P&O ship had two of its tenders chugging up and down the side of the ship and heading out a little in an arc presumably providing protection from any terrorist act while it was in port while the Costa ship didn’t have anything tenders doing the same. The P&O tenders were still doing the same thing when we came back to go home 5 hours later.
Cadiz has one major attraction and that is its cathedral and while the present structure is not
that old having being built in the mid 1800’s there had been earlier smaller versions on the same site.
Cadiz has a lovely relaxed feeling about the port areas which are often places with frenetic activity going on.
Wandering through a wide open plaza and past the market stalls set up to attract the cruise passengers to spend their Euros we came to another plaza dominated by the cathedral.
We don’t usually like paying to go inside a church but here there was no option and in the end we were actually glad we didn’t baulk at the small €5 fee which included an audio guide, another feature we would normally shun as people often look like a ‘doofess’wandering around with a ‘telephone’ to their ear and looking like stunned mullets as they gaze at what the audio is telling them about this and that. We also got a walk up the clock/bell tower which proved to be good value from the views that it afforded at the top.
The original structure was started in 1635 while the one that we entered today was built between 1722 and 1838 resulting in different styles from baroque to
rococo to neo classical all in the one cathedral.
The audio guide took us around 22 points of interest within the cathedral including the crypt where a couple of locally born poets and composers are buried.
It was only when we got down the 20 odd steps to the floor of the crypt that the audio guide mentioned ‘that we were now below sea level’ and we wondered whether that such a good idea!
At least one thing with an audio guide is that you can fast forward if the information about who painted the picture of who made the sculpture got a bit intensive.
However, we tried to look knowledgeable as we tracked our way around the various chapels and key points including the very impressive choir area and took in as much as needed to get a feel for the history of the church.
The climb up the bell tower was different to what we expected. Usually its steps that wind around a central post but here it was a pathway and though it was all uphill, of course, it was actually easier than taking stairs. With markers every so often we counted
down the metres to the top and squeezed sideways through a narrow opening to the open area where we had 360degree views from the highest point in Cadiz.
It had certainly been worth the effort and the views were marvellous on such a stunning day we were even able to ignore that ever present mustard smudge on the horizon especially evident out to sea.
After all this exercise it was time for some lunch but initially a tapas bar eluded us and eventually we gave the idea of continuing our tapas lunches idea away deciding instead of a large bowl of patatas(chips) to share and two pints of cold beer.
With a table under a wide wind out veranda and the bar next to the local market we sat contentedly sipping our beer, munching on the patatas and doing what we most enjoy when relaxing and that is people watching.
By the time a half hour had past and we had finished our beers and patatas we reckoned we had seen all the ‘types ‘one could see in this city go passed from old to the young from the mothers with crying babies in pushchairs to
the lost cruise ship passengers, the whole world had walked passed us at some time in that half hour.
After the time we had spent in the cathedral we decided some walking through the narrow lanes towards and then around the waterfront would finish off our visit to what is reputed to be one of Europe’s oldest cities.
Upon reaching the coast and the promenade that ran along above the beach we took a look over the parapet and down onto the small, sandy beach and initially couldn’t believe our eyes. But we confirmed to each other what we had seen and that this was a beach where sunbathers can attire or not attire just how they want and in most cases for the young women some part of a two piece bikini was missing. Gretchen told me quickly to put the video camera away as we moved on along the promenade. We guess we just hadn’t expected to find partly naked bodies in what was essentially a beach right in the city itself.
We partly retraced our steps after wandering through several other lanes taking in the architecture which had less of a Moorish influence than
Back in the square at the cathedral a local flamenco dancer was dancing to recorded music which we must say is not as entertaining as hearing a guitar strum out the beat of the dancer’s steps.
We had to wait a while for the next ferry back to Puerto but again it gave us time to try and guess where the people who gathered for the same ferry we were waiting for had come from as none of them looked like locals.
We had decided to eat out again tonight, a rare occasion for the BBA V3, dinner out 2 nights in a row!
And we had thought that it would be easy to find a restaurant to try a local dish we hadn’t tasted before.
However, this was Monday night and the bikers who saturated the town with their presence yesterday were gone and of course most of the restaurants were closed now that it was just locals and a few tourists like us left in the town.
We walked up and down streets that last night had been busy and restaurants full but tonight were almost deserted of people.
had even left it later to dine, as the Spanish tend to do, and eventually we found a restaurant where the waiter was just putting out menus at 8.30pm.
Gretchen had a locally named dish which consisted of ham and eggs on a large crusty piece of bread while I had chorizo sausage in a rich tomato sauce but also with egg and peas served piping hot. All very delicious!
The days are getting longer as daylight saving hours really take effect and even though it was 9.30pm before we walked the short distance back to the penthouse there was still light in the sky.
Tomorrow we will try a little bit of Blighty as we plan to visit Gibraltar.
PS you can sing along to the sea shanty on YouTube to get the flavour
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