I think that Cadiz is the sort of town that grows on you. When I first arrived, I was thinking “nice location, but what else have you got”. The old town is on a promontory sticking out into the Atlantic (we are just a few miles west of the traits of Gilbraltar) and there is a pleasant walk around the sea wall. The weather is also more pleasant – there is still blue skies and a hot sun, but there is a cooling breeze as well from the Atlantic.
Nothing else is immediately striking. Cadiz is apparently the oldest continuously inhabited town in Europe, 3000 years and counting, but there is not much evidence of that in the buildings. The Cathedral is the most striking structure, but although its got a nice exterior, its overall effect is nothing to write home about.
But as you wander round, I found myself warming to the place, some nice streets, some nice churches, some very nice squares. You can go a long way with nice. And the plazas really are attractive, albeit heavily populated with alcoholics.
Andalucia does seem to have more than its share of alcoholics on the street, and I have my theory why. Alcohol is easily available – shops and museums might not open until 10, but the bars all open earlier than that and if most people are drinking coffee then you can buy a beer if you want. The alcohol is cheap too, and then you can sit in a nice plaza with a great view and all the sunshine you want. I am not saying it would be a positive life choice (hey folks, you know I was taking this trip to help decide what to do with my life? Well, I think I will be an Andalucian bum) but the downsides of alcoholism are more obvious in Cardiff.
The old town is only a part of the city, on the head of the promontory. The new town stretches back inland and to all appearances resembles any modern Spanish beachfront development. But the important word here is “beach”. I think there must be something hard-wired into me that has an automatic association between “seaside” and “fun”, and just walking up to it gave an enormous sense of well’being, out of any proportion to the amount of enjoyment I was feasibly gong to get from the beach.
So I went for a sim, splashed about in the waves for a bit and generally regressed. The most unusual thing about the beach was that there were a couple of rugby posts on the beach. No football goals, no volleyball nets, just the rugby posts. Bizarre. Actually maybe that’s the why I’m warming to the city, its reminding me of Wales. The men look reasonably similar. Lots of tattoos and perma-tans though obviously the sunbed is less popular here. And pronounced correctly, Cadiz sounds a bit like Cardiff. Um, OK I think I’m running out of similarities here.
In the evening I went to watch Cadiz play against Real Union from Irun in the Basque Country, in the first leg of a play-off for promotion to the Segunda. Cadiz won 1-0 but probably should have won by more after Real Union had 2 players sent off in the second half. But there was a great atmosphere in a nearly full stadium with lots of Cadiz shirts in evidence – I think its the first town where Barcelona shirts have not been the most prominent. I think Real Madrid need to work on their marketing. Meanwhile, I need to work on my tan. Next is the Algarve.