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Cadiz is one of the southernmost cities in Spain. The influence of various Moorish occupations and invasions is clear to see. This is the cathedral. We sailed more than 80 miles from Vilamoura over night, intending to go to the small town of Rota, just across the bay but the lights that lead into Cadiz were clear and easy to follow so we changed our plan and sailed into this historic harbour. Cadiz is still a busy port and though the town was pleasant, it was a long walk from the marina, past the docks and into the commercial centre.
When we finally arrived in the town centre, workmen were driving through the streets taking down Christmas decorations - or so we thought. Then we saw that they were putting them up, stringing them across the narrow gaps between the shops and the houses. In February?
It was very nearly Carnival time, which gets under way shortly before Lent, a time of fast for Christians - Carnival might be translated from Spanish as "goodbye, meat"! There is a massive festival here in Cadiz with music competitions, concerts and lots of food to eat (while you are still allowed).
Cadiz is built on an island (almost) connected to the mainland by a very narrow strip just wide enough for a road and a railway. The streets are narrow and the buildings are old but open squares planted with decorative trees are a pleasant relief every once in a while.
Do you see them on top? The storks have built their nest on top of this high column in the middle of a busy square in the city centre. There are lots of shopping streets with lots of small shops; many just converted houses. There are very few large chain stores here and no shopping malls. The indoor market is the centre of town and it is packed with fine looking fruit, vegetables, meat and fish. We tried artichokes, fresh peas in their pods (though it is still only February) and Anna cooked paella with local prawns and squid.
Early explorers who survived and returned brought examples of all walks of life and nature back with them from their voyages of discovery to the Americas. This is not a giant sprig of broccoli but one of many trees that were brought back from South America and planted in the botanical gardens in Cadiz. Colourful parrots nest in the high branches and fly around freely looking for food.
Rota & Jerez, Spain
Rota is a tourist town where the majority of visitors are Spanish. However, there is a Nato base nearby and most shops and services were used to English speakers. This made little difference to Anna - her Spanish was getting good and she enjoyed trying it out on the locals who appreciated her attempts and were very helpful.