Leaving the silence of the inner hills of Andalucia, we were on our way to spend a few days in the city of Cadiz. This was our Festive season present to each other, the calendar page had been turned it was now December.
Any excuse to celebrate the future arrival of the big fat jolly man.
Firstly, we needed to drop our larger suitcases off at our next housesit and to have a cuppa with Sarah and say hello to Fudge the dog, who we last cared for in Switzerland Neighbourhood Walks – Aubonne.
Approaching the southwestern-most part of Spain, which is Cadiz, we were hoping that the Hotel Convento would be easy to find. No such luck, though having said that, success was sort of on our side as we circled the area for the third time, the Squire located a small area where he skillfully parked the car. If I had been driving the car would have had a few more scrapes on it and a much more stressful twosome.
Feeling hopeful we grabbed our bags and went in search of our temporary abode. Which we finally located down a narrow street which was not that car friendly and thankfully we had ignored the annoying voice coming from our MapsMe app. which wanted us to head up one of those said streets. Though we did realise that the hotel which is part of a larger church was actually on the main road. Don’t new places look so much different when in a more relaxed frame of mind!
Having gone through the usual procedure of checking in and dropping our bags in our room, we were eager for a walk. It was so good to wander around, though the temperature was not as we would have wished for, it was cold, the wind from the north/east had come for a visit, which was hitting us full on as we ventured into the streets.
Do you remember in a previous post I mentioned something about Spain’s coldest winter? Well, I blimely did, and here it is Travelling Light. Although no records were broken and the sun was still shining, we were delivered a cold blast from the North/East, which made this part of Southern Spain not such a warm place to be, though probably much more temperate than other parts of Europe.
Having purchased two beanies, we were now ready for the beast from the North/East.
Back to our first few hours of wandering around Cadiz. Our first thoughts were that this place has got such a lovely atmosphere, people seem relaxed, chatting and smiling as they slowly passed us, no one was in any hurry.
Then we heard music at the end of a street which looked like it lead to a square, and other people seem to be heading in that same direction. We decided to follow the crowd. The sun was going down, and it soon disappeared, and in its place, the festive lights took over. What a gorgeous sight it was, we had beaming smiles from ear to ear, as the countdown began. For what you ask? The lighting of the community Christmas Tree, it was, of course, the 1st of December.
We had experienced our first Christmas market and our first in Spain. What a treat. After wandering for another hour more it was time to get our bearings and start to head back to our hotel, we were beginning to feel cold. A warm room and sleep were waiting for us.
Tomorrow was another day.
After one too many pastries, with fruit for a dash of healthiness and washed down with caffeine. We were ready for a full day of exploring from Santa María, the gipsy quarter, to La Viña, the old fishing quarter. Then a brisk walk around the waterfront visiting Castillo de Santa Catalina with a view out to sea to discovering the affluent areas within a few metres away. These areas, of course, would need to be repeated as we never seem to see everything the first time around.
Firstly, some unique points of Cadiz.
- The oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in western Europe, it was founded by the Phoenicians
- On a good day, you can view another continent – Africa
- Locals can be heard speaking “gaditano”, embedded into more than 3,000 years of history.
- Christopher Colombus sailed from Cadiz to the Americas
- The city has over 100 watchtowers. They represent the prosperity and trade which occurred in the city in the 18th century. Nowadays, the Tavira Tower is the official watchtower, due to the fact that it was the highest point in the town at 45 meters above the sea level and also that it is located in the centre of the city.
Late afternoon/early evening, we were still wandering around, I noticed a picture of Frida Kahlo which brought a smile to my face. I have always admired her work, which reminded me of a printed fabric cushion that I purchased online from Bolt of Cloth.
I digress once again. Now back to us standing there by this building looking in the window. Our thoughts were disturbed by this man standing in a group, who invited us to come in, a bit hesitant to do so due to him speaking in Spanish and us not knowing what the heck he was saying so we continued to smile and stay put. Until finally after more persuasion on his part, we entered.
Inside was a gallery with paintings of Frida Kahlo ones which I had not previously seen. This man who invited us along with his friend was the artist Fausto Velazquez, did we know this at the time. NO, we did not. Or else I would’ve been cheeky enough to ask him for his autograph. Now that I know who he was we do feel honoured to have been “Johnny on the Spot”.
One blogger whom I have followed and enjoy reading her blog for a while has written a few articles in detail with incredible photos about Frida Kahlo, so definitely, visit Clare at The Easel Weasel.
Another day exploring completed and again it was time to head to the warm oasis of our room. Which gives me now the opportunity to describe this boutique accommodation called Hotel Convento where we had the chance to stay. It is a smallish hotel that is housed in a 17th-century convent, with one of the most beautifully understated churches we have seen.
To make it even more unique, there was a beautiful chant that we loved to listen to. This incantation is said to give spiritual nourishment to those who listen to it, maybe that is the reason why we felt so relaxed listening to this wonderful music as we headed to breakfast or out for the day through the cloister.
While out exploring we would often stop to sample the delicious pastries, see unique architectural details and listen to the happy sounding local dialect. All of which were down narrow lanes in what seemed an endless maze. Yes, we did lose our bearings once or twice.
In most Spanish cities a trip to the permanent central market is an excellent way to see locals going about their day and the best place to buy fresh produce.
Cádiz market was no exception.
The main explanation would be that Cadiz is a port city with access to the freshest seafood. Of course, there are the usual meat, fruit and vegetable stalls. The stalls’ with their unique names, which we thought was a lovely personal touch.
If fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and fish aren’t required, then you can sample the abundant tapas on offer in the gastronomic corner. Washed down of course with wine or beer.
What an assault on our senses.
With each day came evermore enticing food filling our bellies. A strong wind whipping us faster around every corner. Buildings from differing cultures activating our imaginations. Sounds of wrenching flamenco coplas to pleasurable tones from church bells and monks chanting.