Spain 38 - Cadiz - the King of Spains beard, Francis Drake sailing in and plundering the Spanish fleet. Flamenco Dancer and an art class

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September 17th 2016
Published: September 20th 2016
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After Gibraltar could anything be more different? We are staying at Las Dunas a huge camping site in Puerto de Santa Maria. We are the other side of the river from Cadiz. The site is huge and sprawling , has a swimming pool, a bar/restaurant and is within walking distance of the beach and from the catamaran to Cadiz. It was not a walk we planned to do as we had originally made the decision to stay over a few days. There seemed quite a lot of interest in Cadiz to hold our attention but on the face of it the campsite seemed a tad too busy for us. We were taken to our plot by a guy on a bike and were surrounded . Suzy in a sea of motorhomes. We made the decision there and then to get out to the catamaran and head off for Cadiz today rather than tomorrow. After some of the brilliant sites we have been on this proved a tad disappointing. There was nothing wrong with it but it was just not our type of site. Plan B head for the cafe and have a drink whilst working out the time of the next catamaran. The walk took us alongside the river and the boatbuilders yards . 20 minutes walking in the hot sun. We have never had so high temperatures on a holiday before. Trying to find shade was nigh on impossible but I am not complaining.

When we arrived at the terminal we had missed the boat according to the lady on the desk. Our timetable was wrong so we had an hour to wait. We sat drinking fresh orange juice squeezed from the oranges and cold to drink. It was lovely. The catamaran arrived at 5.00 disgorged its passengers, we loaded and were away by 5.10. A rather choppy but slow ride across the river to the other side where we saw ocean liners docked in the deep harbour. It was not difficult to find the historic centre there was not much of it to be honest. We felt a little cheated as if we had expected much and Cadiz did not deliver. Strange how some places do this. The catamaran ride though was worth the 5euros each way fare. We got chance to see the harbour and the bridge over the river. It maybe was not the most scenic of rides but it was fun all the same as we people watched all the way.

We were in the city where our own Sir Francis Drake singed the King of Spains Beard after he arrived with his Armada.

We started off in the main cathedral square where the cafes were. In one were a group of tourists being entertained by a young flamenco dancer dressed in black and red. She strutted her stuff entertaining the crowds who cheered enthusiastically.Her castanets clicked in time with the clicking of her heels as she danced to the music. I remember buying castanets black ones when I visited Spain all those years ago. It is odd how memories flood back out of nothing. I don't know if she was authentic or if this was a tourist version but all in all it was interesting watching her dance.

The cathedral was a monstrous affair not to our taste at all. All white and baroque. I guess the original cathedral would have been Gothic, light and highly sculptured . This thing must have replaced the original and was big , less ornate and pretty brutal. Inside were tall grey columns reaching the lofty grey roof. It seemed grey everywhere. There was a crypt and a treasury full of relics and saints bones but we decided not to bother going in. I dont know if we actually missed anything by not paying our entry fee. There were as always beggars on the steps with their begging bowls or plastic cups. The square was impressive with its shops, little cafes spilling out into the early evening sunshine. It had a bit of character but always felt dominated by the cathedral as it wound its way round the one side and then up to the sea. In places you could just about see bits of the old city walls sticking out and the odd bit of older architecture. I don't know why we expected more from it than we were getting. We realised pretty soon we would not have enough here to keep us another day let alone another two.

We walked round to the first of two forts that defended the city and saw in places the odd glimpse of a city wall. The fort was a long way out and given our walking today the last thing either of us fancied was to walk out to the fort . The little shaped windows looking out to see reminded me of Lisbon and the Belem Tower. The second fort was more modern and had modern installations fixed within it. The sea was blue beyond the fort and there were twenty somethings sunbathing in the evening sun. I guess sunbathing is pretty big here with such lovely beaches with their white soft sand.

We walked back via the old streets. With their high sided buildings they felt like mazes and we had to follow our noses to find a way out. Lined with shops they were a veritable feast for the eyes . The best part of the city. Iron balconies overhung the streets and they were full of sounds and smells. It was difficult to work out where to go and we had to just guess as there were few signs and few landmarks to home in on. On our way we passed an art class. A man in overalls at his easel painting vivid blue iris . A lady with her watercolours copying a postcard she had purchased . When we got home Glenn had photographed the scene but he saw the nude lady being painted. Is it not funny how we see things differently through our eyes? Beauty being in the eye of the beholder.

We stopped off for a bite to eat in one of the cafe squares. I popped back across to the church to see if I had missed anything but made my mind up I was quite happy I had not. Tea was pizza again. Surely a safe bet. Not a patch on the street food of Gibraltar. Soft soggy and pretty tasteless. We were interrupted part way through by a well dressed elderly man. Nothing like a beggar should look like. His trousers clean, his shirt pressed but he wanted money . He was shooed off by the staff. Then a cheap cigarette lighter appeared on the table. A note said "I am a single mother with a young baby - give what you can?" How did she know what language to leave her card in? Where had she come from. We had not even noticed her. Sadly having worked for 33 years with lone parents trying to get them to work my sympathy is at an all time low. Sad but a reality . I deal with them day in and day out and any sympathy I might have felt has long gone. We moved on and headed back to buy our tickets for home. Another long wait. We tried to buy a Kit Kat from the vending machine. It would not work at all and we had to contend with a pale Spanish imitation.

We sat downstairs coming back as the night was drawing in. There was little to see apart from the Costa Concordias sister ship leaving port. It was cooler and the moon was coming out. We walked home along the shoreline of the inlet with the moonlight lighting up our way.

They say that the lovliest of faces are to be seen by moonlight when one half sees with the eye and the other half with the fancy.


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