Then my 70-year-old body whispered something to my adventurous spirit: "Give it a rest." And I listened. Only a small part of me really regrets that I didn't plunge forward, "into the heart of darkness," with apologies to Joseph Conrad and Africa.
So instead of venturing forth, I booked another hotel in Cadiz for four more days, and relaxed. Much of the reason that my disappointment was slight has to do with the fact that Cadiz is a very pleasant place. There aren't many really astonishing sights to see, though the sight of the Cathedral next to the ocean was more than enough to captivate me, and the sea air, coolish temperatures and really good food sealed the deal. See just below, the Cathedral and the sea:
That's the summary, but more specifically I will begin with my two hotels. Very different kinds of places, the first housed in an old
But, most wonderful for me, at the second hotel, the beach was literally a two minute walk away.
I am not a lover of the beach, mind you. My skin condition doesn't permit me to lounge on it, and I have nut swum in it since Jaws. But I love to walk along it, and this possibility Cadiz provides for immensely well.
My first day in Cadiz began, shortly after I got out of my train, took a taxi and checked in at the Hotel Boutique Convento Cadiz, with a desire for lunch. Very close to the convent are located several eateries on a mostly
Aside: For those of you who, tempted by my enticing essays, are thinking of traveling to Cadiz, or any part of Andalusia, be aware that bread will be set at your table, sometimes olives as well, and often a tapas-sized treat sometimes you'll pay extra for all that - not much, but possibly as much as two Euros, so ask before you eat the treat. I ate mostly well and always inexpensively on this trip, so I was happy to have the extras, the best of them in the case of this first meal a sort of potato salad which was yummy!
And then off I went to explore. I had my first look at the facade of the cathedra. It's devilishly hard to get a good photo as it is so large and the square, or plaza in front of it is so small. Best effort follows:
It was a good bit easier to get a pic of my latest girlfriend, who had attracted a crowd dancing like the wind in front of the cathedral (some might say as an affront to it)! I have no idea of her name, so I think I'll make one up: Ezmeralda, the dancing girl in front of Notre Dame! With apologies to Victor Hugo.
Of course I fell in love! But then, so did Quasimodo, and you know what happened to him.
Instead of attempting the warren of tiny streets and alleys that make up the old town - Cadiz dates back to the Phoenicians, mind you - I chose to begin my look about with a walk the promenade along the sea, and did so all the way up to some old
Whilst (forgive "whilst - I'm not British, I'm American - but I like the sound of "whilst" occasionally) on my seaside walk the sun grew hotter and I grew more and more tired. So I ducked in among the alleys, into any shady spot that would have me, including the very pretty park pictured below, and little by little made my way back to my hotel, and decided to make an early day of it.
Next morning, I awoke early and was as usual the first down to eat. On my way down I snapped a photo of the upper levels of the convent, and its dome:
I may have mentioned that the breakfast area was outdoors, and while there was a bit of a nip in the air, I enjoyed that very much.
After dining I went off again, in a more earnest search around the city. I was too early for the first hop-on-hop-off bus tour, so first I strolled from my hotel to the nearest square (not five minutes away)
Bright, airy, open, wouldn't you say? I walked past the cathedral square again (only two minutes farther than the square, or plaza, above), and got what I'd call a better shot of the church.
My first goal was the daily city market, which I understood to be a hive of morning activity.
It wasn't exactly hopping as yet, in fact some stands were still being set up
But I enjoyed it, especially all of the fresh fish! This master of his trade was eviscerating tuna while talking on the phone:
and the shrimp? Well, let's just say they weren't "shrimpy" in size
As the time grew close for the bus tour, I took an inner old town path to one of the stops along its way, and had a look at some lovely gardens along the seaside.
and took a look at the seaside - that fort out in the sea again, though the tide was much lower - and boats for pleasure, fishing or for hire.
Finally, the bus. Once on, I realized that it wasn't going to be all that grand a tour, but it did give me a better feel for the whole of the old town. Though there was an audio guide, I have NO memory of what this winged statue represents.
I caught a view, though not a great one, of a bridge recently put up to link the city with the mainland - I'd seen it from a distance on the train coming in.
I got a good look at the beaches (where I'd be staying beginning the next day)
and another great view of the cathedral from the beach
So the ride was not a complete failure, or anywhere near it.
I left the bus tour at the Cathedral again, and went off in search of the Museum of Cadiz which houses art and archeology. In so doing I meandered around it until I finally took the right (meaning correct, not direction) turn and found it, on a large and very pleasant, shady plaza.
It does double duty, at least: on the ground floor a really interesting archeology museum, especially in its Phoenician collection (not all that easy to find out what the Phoenicians were up to waaaaay back when), ancient Roman stuff more typical but enjoyable, and forward. Just below, looking down from the art galleries to the entranceway to archeological treasures
On the first floor it houses some lovely if not astonishing works of art, mostly Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque. A series by the Spanish painter Zurburan - some appear to have been either filched or loaned out - here's hoping it was the latter!
Go one flight farther up and you've reached a small but well-chosen selection of contemporary art. I liked this one a sort of this, that and t'other of how Cadiz was founded
And this reminded me of...me: just clowning around, and THEN...
A guide-book from a few years back told me that there were also some very good puppets up top, but alas all up top was not open, so I sadly missed that part. There is an apparently very good puppet theatre in town which specializes in mocking political and social foibles in Cadiz.
The great musician Manuel de Falla lived on the same square, I discovered by complete accident. Nice that they have memorialized him.
After giving him a nod myself, I walked out of the pretty plaza, confident that I knew exactly where I was going. I did not. On my way to finding myself I happened onto some pretty nice spots, so here are a few - you can share my search!
I came across a very pretty garden (above) which was also nice as it was a shady spot and I needed one. Also in that garden I came across two great cypress trees - here is one of them. I like the colorful tile work on the bench too.
Also on my lost rambling I re-discovered the winged goddess I had seen on the bus tour. Still no clue as to who, what, or why - WHERE I know!
In another park I found this statue, actually there were more than one of them, with a boy squeezing water out of an unfortunate fish. Curious, but the setting was pretty!
After this I DID find my way back to the area around my hotel. I ate at a place that bragged about its burgers. Mine wasn't very good, and I didn't even take a photo of it (zounds!) but I can't complain too much as I ate so well on most of this trip I consider myself lucky. Then back to the hotel, relatively pleased with my second day. About the next four days you will learn in my next post!