Sep 13, 2015
|Sunday, September 13th.
We had thought arriving 30 minutes before ferry departure was a good plan and it would have been if we had taken idiots in mind. There were only about 4 people ahead of us in line to purchase tickets but unfortunately there was a very frustrated man at the ticket window arguing over whether he should receive a discount on his fare. Meanwhile people had lined up out the door. Finally the issue was resolved and he left as did I because it was getting quite hot in the little office.
Bill returned with the tickets to say that the ferry was delayed for 30 minutes; it actually arrived 45 minutes late, hummm for a 30 minute ride……don’t know why!
It was a mob scene in the little waiting area, 75-100 people of all ages; babies crying; children running around between adults yelling and screaming; adults yelling and screaming at each other, it was enough to drive you crazy. We have decided that they have to yell at each other because they play their music so loud. Such passionate speakers they are.
Fortunately we were at the front of the q and among the first to board. We headed upstairs to the viewing deck and just watched everyone shoving and pushing each other, not to mention buggies to get the perfect seat. Amazing study on people!!
The ferry terminal was positioned on a channel among several smaller marinas where private sailboats of all sizes and shapes and fishing boats were moored. On the other side of this channel were freighters with loading docks filled with containers beside them.
Once out of this protected channel our boat hit the chop of a very huge ocean bay and proceeded to bounce across it to Cadiz. The ferry pulled into a U-shaped docking area where 2 ocean liner cruise ships were moored. We were like a fleck in the water beside them.
Bill and I were among the first to leave the boat as we didn’t want to get trapped by the mob behind us.
I had done my homework thanks to the Lonely Planet and we knew where we were going.
Out of the docking area and across the street and we were in old town Cadiz heading towards the town hall.
Cadiz is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe. Historians have dated its founding to the arrival of Phoenician traders in 800 BC. Cadiz is basically an ocean settlement being surrounded on three sides by water.
Cadiz began to boom after Columbus’ trip to the America’s. He sailed from here on his second and fourth voyages. In 1587 England’s Sir Francis Drake raided the harbour thus delaying the imminent Spanish Armada.
The very British drink, sherry has its root in Cadiz when Drake greedily made off with 3,000 barrels of the local vino. Before long the Brits had developed an incurable taste for Spain’s fortified wine and they wanted more. To meet this demand a whole new industry was inauspiciously born by early British entrepreneurs. One notable one was John Harvey from Bristol who concocted the world’s first cream sherry – Harvey’s Bristol Cream in the 1860’s.
Now, I say, “Where was all this interesting history when I was in school.”
Cadiz’s golden age was the 18th century when it enjoyed 75% of Spanish trade with the Americas. It grew into the richest and most cosmopolitan city in Spain and gave birth to the country’s first progressive, liberal middle class.
The loss of the American colonies in the 19th century plunged Cadiz into a decline from which it is only today recovering, with increased tourism playing a significant role. (Glad we could do our part.)
Oh ummm back to the tour!
The Plaza San Juan de Dios is lined with cafes (what else) and dominated by the imposing neoclassical ayuntamiento (city hall) built around 1800. The access to this square off the main road is a traffic free boulevard with fountains dotting the center; a very inviting entrance.
Along a quaint cobblestone street (more of a lane to me, people just plaster themselves against the wall when a car streaks past) and we were at Plaza de la Catedral where the impressive yellow domed cathedral is positioned. The large plaza is traffic free but it was jammed with people on this Sunday. For three rows in front of the Cathedral’s stairs there was an antique car and scooter show. We wound our way through the people and vehicles to get to the church.
The decision to build the cathedral was taken in 1716 but wasn’t finished until 1838, by which time neoclassical elements such as the dome, towers and main façade had diluted the architect’s original baroque plan. I thought that was a good thing. The church was elegant and sophisticated. We were lucky it was a Sunday morning so we sat and enjoyed the church while mass was being said. Figured it couldn’t hurt. The arches, ceilings, sculptures, tracings and plasterwork were beautiful in their simplicity. It was a lovely quiet time for us.
We just wandered up and down the narrow streets enjoying the atmosphere and the little shops along the way.
The Torre Tavira presented a bit of a challenge when we decided to hike to the top to enjoy a panoramic view of Cadiz.
It was well worth it to see the golden dome of the Cathedral sparkling in the sun, and the city laid out before us surrounded by water.
The promenade was beckoning us to take a walk so off we went. Through a park first full of unique flora, huge fichus and rubber trees and of course fountains.
The coastal walk or promenade which is on top of the old sea wall extends around the city for 4.5 KMs. We only did about half of it stopping to watch fishermen bring in their catch and sailboats, freighters and fishing boats pass.
The taxi driver took us for another tour of El Puerta de la Santa Maria on our way back to camp.