Firstly, I have some VERY exciting news. In my very naïve little mind, I believe that it totally makes up for my terrible travelling blunders of a). booking the right bus for the wrong date and b). booking accommodation for the right city but the wrong country. I have successfully secured a little position with a family in Sevilla starting in September, for as long as I want (well until I am kicked out of the country when my VISA runs out). In exchange for a bed and meals, I get to teach (essentially practice some vocab and talk in English) to two little seven-year-old twins and a three-year-old bub while preparing breakfast each weekday. The rest of my time is mine. WHAT? HOW EXCITING. I’m feeling very accomplished at this whole quit-your-job-and-move-to-Spain thing, as things just seem to be falling into perfect place at the moment. I was a little worried because I essentially had things sorted until after the wedding. I was travelling with or around people, and I knew exactly what I was doing and where I was going. The super organised, OCD Georgia was frothing. There was the part of me though that was itching to be free and just book things as I go and for what I feel like doing, as I’ve always been on a time schedule when travelling before. However, the OCD George was concerned that this was just a little phase and I would completely freak the flip out and cry myself to sleep, watching re-runs of Blue Heelers and eating vegemite on toast. While HELL YES I want vegemite, this has yet to happen. So. after a quick pitstop in Sevilla to meet my future Spanish Mamá, I was off to Cádiz.
WELL. Isn’t Cádiz Spain’s little well-kept secret. Everyone knows about Barcelona, Madrid, Sevilla, San Sebastian, Granada… But Cádiz is spectacularly beautiful. (I will most definitely be returning, with it only being a two-hour train ride from Sevilla, plus my new little fake Spanish family having a second house there… I know right, SO damn lucky). Cádiz’s claim to fame is being the oldest continuously occupied city in Europe. Yes, there is some dispute about this, but, it’s pretty clear to see why people came and never wanted to leave. Its position at the end of a little peninsula in the south of Spain made it a great little fortress, and during Napoleon’s occupation of Spain, was the ONLY city that the French troops were unable to conquer. It was during this time that the Spanish Officials at the time hid away here and signed Spain’s first ever constitution, named; La Pepa. Pretty cool huh?
So Cádiz is this amazing three THOUSAND year old city, and is known colloquially by the locals as the “Little Silver Cup”. But did any locals know why it was called this? No. They said things like ‘it’s because it’s a treasure’, or ‘because it’s famous for its Sherry…’. Turns out, after a little bit of investigation, it is simply called the “Little Silver Cup”, because it is shaped like a cup, with the ocean its saucer. Cádiz is super important to Spain for a few reasons (other than what I have already mentioned); Christopher Columbus set sail for a few of his conquests from Cádiz, it was the site of Spain’s naval fleet and remains so today, and it monopolised the trading between Spain and America, bringing fortunes and riches into the country. In the mythical sense, Cádiz was the location where Hercules settled, following his creation of the Strait of Gibraltar and the separation of Europe and Africa.
A few fun facts about Cádiz. The Puerto Tierra (the Land Gate) was the only communication between Cádiz and the rest of Spain, until around 100 years ago. They intended to make a small explosion to alter the gate but instead brought the whole thing down, having to reconstruct it again. Whoops. THEN. In 1947, the navy gunpowder accidentally exploded in the naval yards and essentially destroyed all of modern Cádiz, with the old town protected by its grand city walls. Cádiz is also a popular location for films. It seems to be fairly versatile, with sections similar to towns in France an others like Havana. Not only did I try my absolute best to try and track down Jude Law and Blake Lively while they were filming a spy thriller titled “The Rhythm Section”, expected to come out next year, but I also learnt that Cádiz was the site of filming for Night and Day with Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz AND the famous scene where Halle Berry was filmed for the 007 film coming out of the water in Die Another Day.
Cádiz was the sort of city that you just wanted to wander through and get lost. I went on the hop on hop off bus tour, mainly because it was half price and a little rainy that day, and learnt some fun facts about Cádiz that I included above, but mainly learnt that the city isn’t that big. On the included walking tour I tried Moscatel wine for the first time, traditional to the area which definitely warmed the belly but was super sweet to have more than a shot glass! I also explored the Cádiz museum which was home to a whole range of crazy things; archeological artefacts and coins from the third century B.C., statues from the first century A.D., some ridiculous paintings and some creepy-as puppets at the very top- if you get tired of climbing stairs, pretty sure they’re the thing to give a miss. The beaches, especially La Playa de Santa Maria, are absolutely spectacular. But don’t forget your sunscreen!
I found an art exhibition in the Santa Catalina Castle, a spontaneous dance troupe outside the Cathedral, another inspiring “Happiness Movement” on the way home from a delicious dinner at Balandro (try the red-fin tuna tartare), and had my first spontaneous Salsa class from Agustín and Enrique beachside just outside the Pelican Musicafé. Cádiz is full of culture, natural beauty and passion. The people are SO nice and so willing to help with improving my Spanish and dancing skills, giving directions and recommendations and generally just having a chat. The people here have SO much respect for their city; when they take their dog for a walk, they carry a bottle full of soapy water to rinse down where their dogs cock their legs. Where else in the world have you seen that??? It is simply a city that should no longer be missed when people come to Spain. It is in my top destinations ever.
One funny little side note. Ciara, my awesome new Irish friend who is studying in Barcelona this year, and I went to the beach. We were having a grand old time, and out of absolutely nowhere, we were surrounded by International University students. Young and obnoxious, talking loudly, and edging their way into my personal space. I thought I was overreacting. But when I had had enough noise and sand in my face, I decided that it was time for me to go and as I was walking away, I turned back to look. Ciara was still there for perspective and no I was not overreacting. They literally had the entire beach but decided to sit ON TOP of us. I have highlighted Ciara in red, the annoying university students in blue, and literally, ANYWHERE else they could have sat in green. Personal space people. Learn boundaries. Ok. Rant over now. BYE.