Friday, April 15, 2005

Cadiz

We've just spent the last few days relaxing around the southern Spanish city of Cadiz, where we are staying with Carly's Uncle Johnny who lives here studying Spanish (amongst other somehow relevant subjects!).

The town is our first taste of a smaller regional Spanish town, where the people are friendly and interested in the small number of tourists that venture down this way, and the food and drink is pretty much authentic and without the influence of what we'd expect in the larger more touristy centres.

We landed into nearby Jerez after our early morning flight, and travelled by bus into Cadiz where we met Johnny. He let us spend the rest of the day catching up on sleep at his place as we suffered the first day of some very ordinary jetlag from our flight back to the UK from Brisbane. On the first night out I managed to doze off during dinner, and on the second night I performed the same feat, but this time standing up holding a beer - pretty poor form.

He is living in this amazing high-rise apartment overlooking the beach which runs along the edge of the new town, and takes in the beautiful Spring sunsets over the Atlantic. With daylight saving started in Europe, each afternoon we have enjoyed sitting out on the verandah watching the sun go down over the beachm which seems to fill up in the cooler late afternoon with locals out walking. After exploring the old town all day while Johnny is at Uni we've been stopping off at the supermarket on the way home and grabbing some Cruzcampo beers, and Johnny has been whipping up some amazing things to nibble on while we sit around chatting.



Watching the sunset over the Atlantic from Johnny's place


Late night sightseeing along the city walls

During the day we've been walking along the beach front from where Johnnny lives into the old town - which is an old Spanish fortified town which, because of its location on the exposed Atlantic coast close to the Mediterranian, was subject to attack and has an old wall surrounding it, and many of the buildings have tall towers above them from which the locals used to keep lookout for attacking fleets.


Carly and Johnny sitting atop the walls with the City's cathedral behind

The buildings and narrow streets of the old town are something we've never experienced, and the people in the restuarants, markets and bars are very friendly and always asking where we are from. I think we are standing out a bit around here!

As you walk along through the long narrow shopping strips, you make one turn and a large impressive square will open up, where locals have stalls and the cafe's and bars open up with alfresco seating in the warm sun. We took advantage of a few of these on our many walks.


One of the large town squares, during day-time and night-time

The main town markets here are fantastic to say the least - much different to the Produce and Farmers Markets in London, this large purpose-built space is alive with amazing seafood and a huge range of local meats such as the delicious hams we were sampling at the tapas bars all over town for what seemed like breakfast, lunch, and the very late quick fast tapas dinners.


The entrance to the City's markets

That is another that I am liking - the way they eat! Quick, fresh, fast, and late!! No-one comes out here to eat until past 9pm, and even then you'll find the tapas bars only just starting to get going. This caught us out a few times as we would look for a late lunch, only to find very little open as they've gone home to have a mid-afternoon snooze, not to be seen again until the night time session. As much as its very different, you quickly get used to it and we've both really enjoyed standing at the bar at well past 10pm enjoying the food and wine.

One of the most obvious features of the town is the beautiful fishing boat harbour, only used these days by some of the die-hard locals - and next to it the old town forts, one of which is way out at the end of a long causeway which you can walk along at low tides.


The view of one of the City's forts, as seen in 'Die Another Day'; Carly and I in front of the fort



This fortress, and some other parts of the waterfront were used in the filming of the Havana/Cuba scenes of the Die Another Day starring Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry. Infact the scene where Halle appears bikini-clad out of the sea and onto the beach, replicating the original scene by Ursella Andress, was shot there on the beach in the harbour. I will be making sure my brother Jay - a huge Bond fan hears all about this. And on the days that we were there they were filming the final scenes on the beach for a movie starring Viggo Mortensen.


Carly and Johnny sitting in the sun doing very little out on the causeway; Carly with the harbour in the background

On several of the nights we were out eating and drinking with Johnny in the old town, we got to see and experience what the local teenagers get up to on Friday's and Saturday nights. Very late in the night, say from 11pm, they all gather in this one square of the old town carrying (sometimes on removal trolleys!) bottles of spirits, mixers, and bags of ice, and then proceed to all congregate crammed into this one square and check each other out and generally just have a good time. There is no trouble, no violence, everyone is drunk just having fun! There are two policeman who discretely watch from the sideline, but according to Johnny they never seem to need to be needed as everyone is well behaved despite the mayhem.




The chaotic scenes of the binge session in one of the squares

Then as quickly as it gathered, they are all gone again, and all that is left is a huge mess for the cleaners to look after eary in the morning! Brilliant to see!!


Carly walking back along the beach from the old town

We're planning on making some trips out of Cadiz to the nearby port town of Santa Maria (where Christopher Columbus left Europe from to discover the new world), the nearby city of Seville, and a few days down the coast to Tarifa and then around to the British province of Gibraltar so I can finally see this huge rock!

We'll post again after we've done those trips. But from what we've seen so far, we really love Spain.

-shane

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