“It's actually a very nice little city”

We jumped ahead an hour overnight, and were not huge fans of that, especially after the caipirinhas and margaritas.  But since we had no long drives today, and everything in Cadiz was within walking distance, we decided to not get off the ship right at 8.  [It was a weird feeling, not being one of the first.]  We actually didn’t even wake up until 8, and then Crystal slept a bit more.  We were right in town, and could see an 1812 statue from our room.  We ended up getting off the ship around 9.

Looking a couple days earlier, on our impromptu sea day where we skipped Fuerteventura, we had checked out a couple websites of Cadiz highlights, and everything was within a kilometer or two of everything else.  The town of Cadiz is a bit like Coronado, basically an island connected by a narrow strip of land to the rest of the Spanish mainland.  Most of the sites were at the northwest tip of the island, which was roughly circular.  We had docked around “3pm” on that circle.  We decided to go the big cathedral first, which was around “5pm.”

Getting off the ship, the marina area was quite nice, curving around the bay towards the old town.  Almost no one was out and about.  As we were walking over towards the Cathedral, we saw a giant dragon tree and a Bunya Bunya, and right there we ran into Claudio, the tour director, who was out for a morning walk.  His first comments were “It’s actually a very nice little city!”  He suggested that we walk north to the shoreline, then counter-clockwise around the town, getting to the cathedral last.  We figured since we didn’t have a real plan, we might as well follow his.

Our first site was the 1812 statue.  Apparently 1812 is when the Spanish Constitution was passed, and – amazingly – it was not popular with the King, who refused to recognize it.  The dispute between the liberals and the traditionalists lasted a long, long, time after that.  The little square with the statue was very nice, and it was especially nice because the weather was just about perfect today – the only thing keeping it from being an A+ was a stiff breeze from the East.  Even though it was getting close to 10, there still weren’t any people out enjoying the weather, just a handful of joggers and people walking their dogs (including a couple Frenchies).

Around town there were some very large specimen trees, including some big ficus and dragon trees.  The Jardines de Alameda Apodaca, on the north shore, looked like it had been around a long time, and the trees there were massive.  We rounded the northwest corner of Cadiz and started heading southwest, arriving at Parque Genovese in short order.  This was a large park with wide paths, some very large Kentias, date palms, giant dragon trees, and other stuff.  There was even a waterfall area.  As we kept walking, we passed by an old castle (Castillo de Santa Catalina), but it was not open yet.  From there we could see Castillo de San Sebastian, which is on its own peninsula at the western edge of Cadiz, which is on its own peninsula from mainland Spain. There was a nice beach visible between the two castles, Playa de La Caleta.

As we walked through the beach area we could see the first signs of people waking up – it was now about 10:30.  We passed, and were passed, by this shepherd-type dog a bunch of times; it must have been on a similar walk to us.  It had one of the Julius-K9 harnesses that we have for our pups.  We wondered if in Spain they pronounced the J like an H.  We decided to wait a bit to walk out to San Sebastian, figuring the view back towards the city from there would be just a bunch of sun in our eyes in the morning.  So we continued around the corner and headed east along the south shore.  We finally wound our way all the way around to the cathedral, which was quite impressive, but hard to get a good view of because everything was jam-packed around it and it was also right next to the water – in other words, we couldn’t ever get an unimpeded distant view.

We saw a tour group taking photos, so we figured we should look from that vantage point.  The vantage point was right next to a gym, and we could hear the basketball shoes squeaking inside – maybe that’s where everyone had been on a Sunday morning.  Since we’d now effectively circumnavigated the town, we decided to head in from the periphery into the interior.  There were really narrow streets, and no vehicles on many of them.  There was a church (Iglesia de Santiago Apostol) right next to the cathedral, and we couldn’t figure out why the need for that.  There was also a Plaza on that (north) side of the cathedral

Walking around we saw a place with Jamon Iberico, and went in to take a look.  It all looked pretty tasty, and we got a cone of tiny sausage bites.  We both had the same first thought – “there’s not enough meats in cones.”  The narrow streets, and the design of the buildings with their small balconies, reminded Crystal of New Orleans.  We wondered if the part she liked about the architecture in New Orleans was more from the Spanish influence than the French.  We went past the Central Market, but it was sadly not open on Sundays. 

The next stop was Torre Tavira, a lookout right in the middle of town.  It was 6 Euros to go the top, and included in that was some sort of show also, but the ticket agent said there weren’t any available show times for over an hour.  We decided to just go up top, then head down and maybe come back to go to a show if the timing worked out.  The view from the top was very nice, and we could see lots of other lookouts or towers around town as well.  When we started to head back down an employee stopped us, and said he probably had 2 spots for the 11:30 show if we wanted to wait 2 minutes.  We did, and there was space, so we went in.

Inside this small room was about a dozen people and this big satellite dish looking thing, facing up like a giant salad bowl.  Apparently it was connected to a bunch of mirrors that could move around, like a periscope on a submarine, such that an image of the surroundings were displayed onto the dish.  By moving the dish up and down, the guy could focus on either near or far images.  It was really cool, and we could clearly see things like people doing laundry, cars on the road, our ship, and more.  The demonstration basically did a 360 panorama around town, showing off different items of interest and giving history on the town. 

Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians over 3000 years ago, and has been continuously inhabited since then, whether by the Phoenicians (who called it Gadir or Agadir), the Carthaginians, the Romans, the Visigoths, the Moors (who called it Qadis), and finally the Spanish.  During the age of exploration, Cadiz was the home to the Spanish treasure fleet, making it a major target for pirates and enemies of Spain.  This is why there were so many lookout towers around town – everyone was keeping an eye on the loot.  The guide told us there were three main types of lookouts - stairstep lookouts, dome lookouts, and combo lookouts that combined the stairstep lookouts with a dome on top.  There was also a single octagonal lookout in town, one that could only be seen from other rooftops, never from the street level.  We’re glad we were able to see the show, as it was much nicer than we’d expected.

We tried to go to the Phoenecian archaeological site nearby, but it was closed for renovations, so we meandered over to Teatro Falla, the big theatre.  Because of the narrow streets, we could get a good vantage point only from the north, and even then, there was a stupid light pole in the middle of the view.  We kept heading west and ended up in Parque Genovese again.  We saw a Canary Island Date Palm on the mend, whether from disease or bugs or something, but it looked like it might come back.  We also saw some Ombu trees, and discussed the concerns of planting some at our place in Hawaii – namely, would they go crazy and overtake the yard.  The Ombu tree is actually a big herb, not a tree, and seeds are easy to come by and should germinate easily, so we’ll see.

From the park we decided to head to San Sebastian.  On the way we saw Santa Catalina castle was now open, so we went there first.  The grounds were interesting, and the views out made it clear why this spot was chosen for a castle, the most interesting part was that they’d re-purposed (multi-purposed?) the inside of many of the buildings to house some art exhibitions of local artists.  We perused those for a bit, then headed out.  We checked out a restaurant near there with a good view of water; all of the other restaurants we’d seen were near the Cathedral or otherwise on the interior of city, not with a water view.  We wanted a bottomless mimosa brunch with a view of ocean, but it was not to be – the menu didn’t appeal to us at all.

We walked around La Caleta beach to the entry to the pathway to San Sebastian Castle.  Out on the path it got windy in a hurry.  There were now lots of people out.  We had seen a little earlier that people were voting at one place, and wondered if that impacted the number of folks out and about.  [As an aside, it’s dumb that the US votes on a Tuesday and that day is not a holiday; it’s almost like certain folks don’t actually want everyone to vote…]  There were rocks and a beach (sort of) on both sides of the path to San Sebastian.  At the end of path we saw it was closed, also for renovations – fortunately the walk out was nice.  The walk back also nice, but now we had the wind in our face.

Our new plan was to get our bottomless mimosa brunch on the ship.  We decided to walk back so that we could get there before 2, when the restaurants closed.  We meandered our way across town, now fairly confident of our sense of direction.  We came across the Central Market again, which was sort of open.  There were lots of stalls around periphery that were more like stores, with either meats, cheeses, wines, etc.  The interior, which we assume would have all the produce, was not open.  We went through the Cathedral area again, and now it was really packed with people.  We also saw some other main square (Plaza de San Juan de Dios) with some fountains doing a bad impersonation of the Bellagio (in terms of being timed to the music).  Now back on the east edge of town, we walked around the marina as it curved around towards the ship.  Just before getting back to the port area we ran into Melanie and a couple other employees.  They were looking at a map, and we told them to just curve around until they saw the fountains, then head in there.

There was a security area at the port before even getting to ship, with metal detectors and whatnot, so we didn’t have to go through security on the ship itself.  We went straight to 8 by the pool, and there were lots of people up there.  We got some stuff from the buffet and sat down at the Patio Bar.  Matheus was there, and we got some mimosas and waters.  The mimosas sadly were not that good, as they were full of pulp.  After brunch we headed up to the Observation Bar, where Helder was just setting up.  From the bar and the deck in front of it there were good views back towards town.  With the telephoto lens on the camera we could see lots of the stuff we’d seen, from the Cathedral to the Torre Tavira to the 1812 monument.

Crystal went back down to 8 to read and to drink mimosas; Justin stayed and read the UNESCO magazine that had been put in our stateroom, plus chatted a bit with folks in the Observation Bar that were setting up.  Around 4, Justin workshopped some Mai Tais with Helder, and it didn’t take long.  They settled on 1 part Myers dark, 1 part Bacardi light, ¾ part lime juice, ½ part Cointreau, ½ part almond syrup (which Justin informed Helder actually was orgeat).  After a couple tests of the Mai Tai recipe for quality control, Justin went down to 8 for a bit to hang with Crystal.  We went to Claudio’s chat at 5:30 about things to do in Malaga.  We were going to be on an excursion most of the day to the Alhambra in Granada, but wondered if we could get a Starbucks mug in Malaga if we had time.

Whilst sitting there at the talk we checked out the Alhambra, and Google said it was supposedly closed on Mondays.  We asked Claudio about this after his talk, and he said not to worry, as our excursion had been planned for months.  We went back to the room and changed into evening clothes, then went up to the Patio Bar and chatted with Matias.  We realized we hadn’t eaten anything spicy this whole trip, and we were craving something, so Justin asked Matias if he had any jalapenos for a spicy margarita.  His eyes beamed, and he ran off and came back with one a minute later.  He also said he’d steep some tequila with grapefruit juice and jalapenos for drinking the rest of the cruise.

In addition to chatting, we also spent time wondering about this family (or what we assumed was a family) that we’d seen a couple times around the pool area.  There was a woman around 45-50, a man of around 25-30, a woman of around 30, a woman in her late teens, and a girl around 5 – we couldn’t figure out how if at all they were related, which generation the teenager was in, etc.  We kept talking through various scenarios and nothing seemed to fit.

Since it was nice outside and so many people were already on the ship, we figured out where Jose’s section was and sat down there before it filled up.  It was easily the warmest night so far, and although it was supposed to be windy, it was calm at first.  Crystal got the burrata, Justin got the caserecce pasta, and we each got the bone-in short ribs. It eventually got windy towards the end of meal, so we wrapped up and headed downstairs to grab the computer.  We ran into Melanie and had a long chat with her.  We were glad to hear she had a good day in Cadiz.  She’s always so peppy and cheerful; it would seem like she could have a long career doing something more customer facing.  Her home is in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.  Not surprisingly, she has already traveled quite a bit, all by age 28.  She did say that some of the employees from Madagascar, South Africa, and a couple other places couldn’t get off the ship in Morocco because of Visa issues, so that’s a bummer.  She also mentioned that some people don’t have time to chat like we do – we said everyone on this ship seems like they have more than enough time on their hands.

Up at the Observation Bar Crystal read whilst Justin caught up on the trip log.  We asked Helder about Gibraltar – he said we might see a little something, but at night there’s not much to see relative to the day.  We looked on a map, and the island is actually to the east of the Spanish mainland, not between Spain and Morocco like we thought.  As the night went on, we could see lights on the left and lights on the right, and no lights ahead of us, so we figured we were in the straight of Gibraltar.  That’s really about all we could make out.  People kept coming up to see if there was anything to see, and most everyone came away disappointed.  But at least they came away safely – it was incredibly windy outside, and it’s good no one fell over.  We stayed up until around midnight when we realized the view wasn’t going to get any better, and the bar was closing up anyway.  But before we left Helder gave us a bit of a Carmenere that we didn’t know was on the ship, and he told us the name so we knew to ask down at the Patio Bar when we were getting dinner tomorrow.  

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