Cádiz - Part 1
I’d love to be able to say that I chose Cádiz for it’s spectacular sea views or the magical allure of Andalusia, but the simple truth is that I chose Cádiz because when I was looking at train tickets, I discovered that the furthest point to which I could travel from Atocha was Cádiz, and that sounded like a pretty good deal to me. The spectacular sea views and magical appeal came later when I actually arrived, happily.
I knew nothing about Cádiz except that it was on the sea, and it was in one of the 8 provinces of the region of Andalusia. One of my first doormen in Spain was from Cádiz, and he related this important fact to me when I returned from my first solo trip out of Madrid, to Sevilla. He seemed sad that I had missed the best of his area by not going all the way to his hometown. It planted a little seed in my mind to go someday when I had the chance.
Three years later, staring a train website with a few options a lot closer (and let’s face it, a lot more boring), I saw Cádiz as the final option and clicked on that one. With only a five hour train trip between Madrid and Cádiz, it’s a fairly easy decision.
I was so busy before my trip that I didn’t even have time to research Cádiz in any way. Usually before my trips, I create a Pinterest board and start piling up articles with the best cafes, restaurants, photo spots, and “things to do” but I just didn’t have the time. The night before my early morning train, I only had time to pull up Cádiz on google maps and make sure I knew where my hotel was in relation to the train station. That was the extent of my foreknowledge.
But perhaps that was to my credit. I didn’t have high expectations, demanding my attention and desire. I was perfectly willing to wander and discover the adventures of Cádiz on the way. (It worked out so well on this trip, I may have to try it again!)
The charm of Cádiz is the sea views. Like the famed mullet, Cádiz is business in the front and party in the back. From the unattractive commercial seaport that you see right out of the train station, it only gets better as you continue on around to the western side of Cádiz: the historic bastions, walled castles, the majestic profile of the Cathedral looming over the stunning sea wall views of the bay, the beauty of parks and ancient trees, and of course, the beaches!
I stayed at the Senator Cádiz Hotel and Spa (based on it’s reviews on Booking.com), and it did NOT disappoint. The hotel itself is in a great location—within walking distance of the train station and the port area. The spa (which I’ll mention later) operates in the basement of the hotel, but it’s a separate entity. The hotel has a charming lobby, full of light and Andalusian charm. You can eat an excellent breakfast there in the lovely lobby each morning, with the usual European selection of breads, fruit, deli meats, and bonus! an entire hot bar of breakfast meats with eggs-to-order. The breakfast carries an additional price, but it’s well-worth the cost. The double room itself was fine. Full disclosure: I find Spanish hotels to all be on a different level of comfort from American hotels. The beds are always hard as a rock, with one limp pillow. But that’s the standard, so this hotel was no better or worse. It fit the Spanish pattern, so in the hotel room itself, I got what I was expecting. Outside of the hotel room, though, Cádiz far exceeded my expectations!
(Be sure to check out part 2 of this travel review, with specifics on what I saw, where I ate, and what I recommend for others)