Cadiz - Part 2
Why go to Cadiz?
If you love history— the Gadir excavation, while small, is fascinating: nine centuries before Christ, the Phoenicians settled in this area giving the western world their alphabet, if nothing else. Because of the shifting sands of sediment, the remains of the Phoenician settlement and that of the later Roman occupation are perfectly preserved. It’s about an hour and it’s free- so it’s worth doing. However the ticket office has a lot of tricky rules: you can’t get tickets in advance and many hours are blocked out for school groups. You’ll need to check ahead about availability even though you can’t reserve a ticket 🎫. I enjoyed the walk out to Castillo de San Sebastián, but it was closed while I was there. Also closed was the Roman amphitheater, sadly.
If you love exercise- Cádiz is the place for you! The entire island has a running/biking track and stunning views in all directions. There are convenient route markers around, although I never found the actual starting point from which it was measured. At all hours of the day and evening, there were joggers and bikers out on the paths, and I can see why. It’s hard to imagine a prettier route than this one.
If you have children- much of the sea walk area has either natural parks or playground areas strategically placed for families to enjoy. I particularly liked the Genoves Park, which had a huge dinosaurs 🦖 along the children’s section and a waterfall/cave feature to walk through. Although being the coastal girl I am, the runner-up for children would be the large wooden boat in front of the Castle of Santa Catalina! Even I wanted to climb in and play on that one.
If you like gastronomía- the Mercado Central de Abastos is a must-see. I walked through one morning early and admired the entire middle section, which is a fish market—probably the freshest I’ve seen in Spain. Most signs proclaim “caught today” and I believe it! It was impressive, and I say that as a Marylander who knows her seafood.
If you love the “old European village” feel- Cádiz’s entire middle is one large labyrinth of charming alleys and tiny stores. It has the usual cast of characters: Zara, Massimo Dutti, Calzedonia, and the like, but it also has some great discount stores and unique Andalusian treats. You have to wander to get the real benefits of these alleys, finding surprising corners and tiny plazas with fountains and benches. The Plaza de las Flores flower market was one of those little surprises for me. So quaint! So utterly European!
If you love views from the heights — you can do the Torre Tavira tower or the Cathedral tower. I didn’t do either, myself, preferring to get my exercise on the ground.
Where I ate: the Argentine restaurant “Abuela Elfrides” near my hotel had an excellent menu. I opted for a steak one day and the “menu del día” another day. Both were delicious, but I will say that the bread is kind of a scam. They placed the bread basket in front of me. It contained a single slice of baguette and my napkin and silverware. I ate the bread and later I was charged .90 euros, which isn’t a big deal in the greater experience of life, but it is rather surprising in a culture of free tapas offered to diners for their enjoyment. I found it very rude to be charged for bread, but perhaps I’ve lived in Europe too long.
The Monkey Bakery Café - also right near my hotel, this was my quiet escape for reading and journaling every day just before lunch. It’s charming in style and decor, and boasts impressive choices for all the various types of coffee and pastries anyone could wish for (gluten-free, lactose-free, and more).
If you want luxury or perhaps romance—I would recommend the Spa at the Senator Hotel. They offer a pools “circuit,” which includes several small baths of varying temperatures: hot, cold, tepid, including special water jets that do a nice hydro-massage for various body parts. It’s designed to look rather like a cave or grotto, and some the pools are dark and atmospheric. Wednesdays are 2x1 so it’s perfect for couples. I know this because I went on a Wednesday and had to awkwardly sit in the jacuzzi with various couples who were certainly enjoying the time together in the romantic environment. Yeah, it was ... awkward. But, the pools were really nice and I bought the accompanying massage package which was really wonderful, so all in all, I felt it was a nice little surprise to enjoy during my stay.