Saturday, February 12
After a bit of sleep, I got an early start on Saturday morning with CIEE's group adventure to Spain's main Atlantic Ocean port city, Cádiz (pronounced, "CAH-deeth"). After a bus ride of one and a half hours, we arrived beach-side on a beautiful and clear day. My sunglasses saved me on this trip, in addition to a dab of Alisa's (travel partner in Jerez) sunscreen. (I have been looking for sunscreen here to buy; I have only found fancy and expensive varieties.)
We started our tour of the city by adopting Spanish-speaking guides and roaming via bus. We stopped at the beach for public bathrooms and photo ops. Then, we began our tour on foot.
Plaza de España: Our first site was a monument to Spain's first Constitution in 1812, which formed the first republic (one of many attempts). It was drafted here in Cádiz, a city known for commerce and liberal thought. Fittingly, I witnessed my first European protest in the Old Town. Government transportation workers were challenging Spain's public sector budget cuts. I also was interested to hear about the lucrative perception of Cádiz. It welcomed New World riches, and Napoleon made it the capital of Spain when he installed his brother Joseph to the throne.
Plaza de Flores: Our next stop of interest was the center of Cádiz's version of Mardi Gras: "Carnival." The celebration is at the beginning of March. Spaniards from the across the country prepare costumes and parade the streets all night long. The Plaza de Flores by day is a flower market.
Mercado Central: This was the highlight of the day: the best "farmer's market" I have seen in Spain so far. It was bustling, and the vendors had plenty to offer right off the boat. Fish of all varieties were on display and ready for chopping. I enjoyed seeing Merluza (hake), the fish that Montse has prepared for me. The finale was seeing the chopping of a whole swordfish (pez espada).
Catedral de Cádiz: Like all towns in Spain, the heart of the city is the Catedral. We culminated our walking tour with a climb to the top of the catedral to admire the view of Cádiz from above. We enjoyed bocadillos outside the Catedral and recovered from the steep spiral ramp of the viewing tower.
Gardens: We took advantage of the beautiful weather by snapping numerous photos in the gardens bordering the Atlantic Ocean. The first was the Alameda de Apodaca. Then we moved to the more exotic Parque Genovés, which seeks to mimic the gardens of North Africa. Cádiz has the climate to maintain the plant life.