Yesterday evening and today have been a lovely recovery day from all the stress and frustration of Morocco. We arrived in Cadiz yesterday around 1:30, and, after dropping off our bags unceremoniously at our pension, we ran over to a fish salting site which closed at 2:00. Chris did his thing, then we walked back to the hotel, then spent the afternoon wandering around.
Today was leisurely – our pension doesn’t include breakfast, so we ate at a nearby café. Chris had empadadillas (mini empanadas!) and I had an enormous crepe filled with dulce de leche. From there, we strolled through the Plaza San Juan de Dios then on to the cathedral, where an audio guide was included with admission. The cathedral was only finished in the mid-1800s, so it’s mostly Neoclassical. It’s a really beautiful space, and since we were there so early, it was relatively calm and quiet. The audio guide gave us a lot of information about the side chapels, including pointing out a few works by Luisa Roldan, known as La Roldana, the first woman sculptor documented in Spain. Some of her works were a bit creepy looking, but still, it’s pretty awesome to see work done by a female artist in such an important space, especially a female from the 1600s. We were also able to go up into the bell tower, which had some gorgeous views of the town and the ocean beyond. The water is such an amazing color! Blues and greens melding together in such a beautiful way…
After the cathedral, we went to the Roman theater. There is obviously some sort of restoration/reconstruction work going on for the theater itself, but we could still see it through a glass window and there were some really great little exhibits as well. Though small, it was a really well done museum, and I’d love to come back when they’re done working on the theater to see the whole thing completed.
After the theater, we went to another fish salting site, which also happened to be a site with significant Phoenician remains. We had to join a tour and watch a video first which was all in Spanish, but regardless of language, the video was hilarious. It was a scientist and her supervisor, maybe?, and the scientists was figuring out what had happened to the man whose skeleton was found on the site. Very over the top and over acted, but definitely amusing. I’ve never seen Phoenician remains before, so that was pretty cool, and the layout of the site itself was great – well signed (with good English translations in addition to the Spanish) and pretty cool monitors with augmented reality capabilities – you would point the screen at part of the site and a reconstruction of that area would show up on the screen. You could then tap on portions of the reconstruction to learn more about specific things – Phoenician ovens, how walls were constructed, the layout of the street. It was really neat and not a very obvious attraction, so I’m glad we stumbled upon it (“stumbled” isn’t really the right word, since Chris has been researching the location of just about every fish salting site ever made in the Roman world. I guess I should say that I’m glad I joined him for this one. haha).
Lunch consisted of take-away from a fish fry place. Apparently this area is known for this fish fry places, and so we took a number and ordered a quarta (1/4 kilo) of fried fish of some type (whiting, I think…?). We then sat on a shady bench in a nearby square to eat our lunch out of its paper cone. Really pleasant and the fish was delicious! (though ¼ kilo wasn’t quite enough for both of us; I would recommend either half a kilo of one type of thing or getting two different quarta – squid, anchovies, prawns; there are lots of options. Chris is a bit squeamish about some of those things, so fish was our only option.)
After lunch, we tried to go to various museums only to find that they closed at 2:00 on Saturdays, which meant we spent most of the afternoon wandering along the coastal walkway, which was still very pleasant. Cadiz is just a very pleasant place; there aren’t a whole lot of people here, tourist or otherwise – enough so that it doesn’t feel like a ghost town, but not so many that you feel claustrophobic. The city itself is beautiful – Renaissance and Neoclassical architecture in lovely pastel colors and wide squares with flowering trees. And, to cap it all off, the weather is amazing. It’s sunny, but the wind from the ocean keeps things nice and cool; it’s almost chilly in the shade!
For dinner we went to a place called “Garum” because how could we not?! It was ok, good but not great, though I did et to try whole fried anchovy, which was pretty exciting (verdict: pretty good!). We also had gazpacho (I liked it but probably wouldn’t choose to order it. I mean really, cold soup?! It’s an abomination), croquettes with cheese and ham (too much creamy cheese flavor, almost no ham at all), a savory crepe stuffed with chicken and mushrooms with a pumpkin sauce, and grilled Iberian pork with French fries (the pork was good, but the fries had definitely been frozen and not fried properly). Tomorrow we’ll probably do a little research on TripAdvisor to find a place for dinner; we’ve found that our guidebook, which is two years old, is more often miss than hit.
Tomorrow is a research day, but hopefully there will be some beach time as well! Also, I’ve had time to update all my pictures to Flickr, so check those out! (username: ploy.keener)