Why do we always stop at Cadiz!?

The first port of call on most Mediterranean cruises from the U.K. is often Cadiz, the oldest inhabited town of the Western world and …… I bet you didn’t know that! Founded by the Phoenicians almost 3000 years ago it was a great trading port which even took them to Cornwall in South West England searching for tin. But walk around the narrow streets of central Cadiz or wander around the beach roads of this peninsula and you just wouldn’t know it.

I looked in vain for signs of ancient history but apart from a few crumbling walls of a Roman Amphitheater behind locked gates ….. nothing! No signs of Greeks, Romans, Visigoths or Moors, although in the latter case you could argue for a bit of architecture. But most is from the 18th Century when Cadiz was a wealthier city than London, for 30 years anyway until Nelson and his fleet let rip because the French fleet under Admiral Villeneuve was cowering in Cadiz harbour. Big mistake coming out to Trafalgar Villeneuve old chap, should’ve stayed in port!
I left the Oriana around 10am to a wonderful sky with morning light shining off the rooftops and the top of the relatively modern cathedral. It only takes 10 minutes from the port to walk around part of the waterfront and then inland to the cathedral square. The cathedral was closed and I have no idea why, so I went into a small bar to wait for a while and ordered a Manzanilla. The waiter brought me a cup of tea! If anyone can explain that I’d be grateful but eventually I got the Manzanilla dry sherry I’d asked for. Fantastico!

I gave up on the cathedral and walked a few streets to the Mercado, the main indoor market which contained the best, cleanest, most artistic variety of fish and seafood I have seen anywhere in the world. I’ll let the photos do the talking.

Although the fish stalls were brilliant, colourful and artistic, they weren’t what I was looking for. I was on a mission to find a tapas bar serving the three types of Spanish ham. (You will need to have read my earlier post to know what I’m on about!). So, some further contemplation was needed and I blinked my way into a small dark bar alongside the market and asked for ….. a Manzanilla, pointing at the bottle this time. A lengthy internet search on a very slow Vodafone Espana recommended Don Jamon, but it was two miles away and didn’t appear to be open. Disappointing. I reluctantly wandered back towards the ship before stopping in a restaurant in a large plaza near the cruise port and ordered a plate of Jamón Iberico, with a glass of Manzanilla of course.

I sat there in the sunshine for about an hour with other passengers from the ship, besieged by a combination of street performers and beggars, though at times it was hard to tell the difference! An accordionist followed by a guitarist, then a flamenco dancer, a clarinetist, and another guitarist. None played for more than 5 minutes but all of them rapidly walked between the cafe tables with a hat or a box expecting payment. The beggars were incessant too asking for money for food, money for the bus, or for their children. One man put a plastic covered card on each table which read “I have three children to feed please help me”. I took out my phone to photograph it but he snatched it up when he saw me doing it. But this led to some fun as I realised that none of them wanted their photographs taking …… so fun for the next 30 min was holding up the phone each time a beggar approached and watching them move on ….. pronto!
Another Manzanilla and it was time to return to the ship, and guess what? I had completely missed a great looking tapas bar around the corner from where I had lunch, never mind, next time in Cadiz, if the ship stops here!

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5 replies

  1. They have odd ideas about tea in Spain. Manzanilla tea is the Spanish name for chamomile tea. Best place for tea is Northern Portugal. The Portuguese claim that tea was introduced to England by Catherine of Braganza, wife of King Charles II. I do enjoy good tapas but it has to be traditional and not one of these modern places .

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  2. Fish market looked amazing!

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  3. I haven’t been to Cadiz yet. Camomille tea in Spanish is la manzanilla so I can see the confusion. I often order la manzanilla and have not yet been given a glass of sherry, but then I haven’t been to Cadiz. Where is your next stop?

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