My friend and I finally arrived in Cadiz Thursday night after flying overnight from Montreal to Malaga (via Paris) and taking a 4-hour bus trip to Cadiz. Although we were originally scheduled to spend our first two nights in Malaga, the Air France strike derailed our plans and cut off two days from our itinerary.

By the time we arrived at our AirBnB apartment, it was already dark and we were exhausted. The apartment was really just a room with an adjoining kitchenette and tiny bathroom, but it was located right on a busy square with several tapas restaurants. Of course the downside was the noise, especially on week-end nights, when people stayed out late eating and talking.

On top of our jet-lag, the Spanish routine also threw us off a little during those first few days. Lunch is from 2:00 to 4:00 pm and people rarely have dinner before 10:00 pm. Since we slept badly, it was 12:00 or later by the time we were out looking for… breakfast!

The old town of Cadiz is on a peninsula, so we started our sightseeing Friday by walking along the seawall and even dipping our toes in the Atlantic along the town’s beach. Further wanderings around the old neighbourhoods of Barrio del Populo and Barrio de Santa Maria revealed a very large cathedral with a rounded dome and two towers, the elegant City Hall and a warren of narrow streets, lined on both sides by four-story buildings in shades of lemon and peach adorned with small balconies and bay windows. It was somehow reminiscent of Valletta in Malta.

The small restaurants in front of our apartment on Plaza Mentidero provided us with a few meals of tapas, salads, and breakfasts. It was also a very good people watching spot.

Puerto de Santa Maria

On Saturday we woke up late and took a ferry to Puerto de Santa Maria, a small town known for its sherry bodegas. Unfortunately we arrived mid-afternoon at a time where just about everything, including the tourist office and the bodegas, were closed. Restaurants only serve food at the pre-ordained meal times, and the whole Spanish routine requires some getting-used to.

We managed to find a seat at a small bar and ordered a caña (small glass) of local lagger and a mysterious tapa called arroz negro, which turned out to be a small dish of rice with squid ink and small bits of squid and vegetables. Later we had a refreshing ice cream, as it was at least 26C in the shade with fierce sunshine. (In fact every day has been sunny since we arrived here.)

Cadiz is a port with many cruise ships disgorging tourists who spend only a few hours every day visiting the town, and many restaurants cater to them. We ended up at a couple of those, and were disappointed by the quality of the food and the indifferent service. The Andalucia Lonely Planet has been a let-down in steering us toward those touristy restaurants. Picking a place at random down some small street has yielded better results. Half the places serving food here seem to be tapas restaurants! You can eat quite cheaply by sharing a few tapas. We’ve had meals for barely 8 Euros each including drinks (beer or sangria).

Vejer de la Frontera

Finally Sunday we did another day trip, this time to the white village of Vejer de la Frontera, a bit over an hour by bus from Cadiz. Guidebooks list this village has one of the prettiest in Andalucia. It didn’t disappoint and we spent a few hours wandering its pedestrian alleys and stairways, passing trough arches and between high white wall with the occasional bench offering a quiet respite in the sun. I liked the fact that it wasn’t invaded by tourists. However once again we ended up hungry after all the restaurant kitchens had closed and had to re-energize ourselves with a coffee and a piece of cake before heading back “home”.

Sunday night we decided to treat ourselves to a special meal and made a reservation at Cumbres Mayores, a restaurant and tapas-bar. We had a complete meal of salad, grilled pork, potatoes, red white, cheesecake and some (very) sweet sherry to wash it all down.

I leave you with some photos of our three days in the Cadiz area. We are now in Sevilla where we arrived after a relaxing train ride yesterday afternoon. We’ll still get to spend an afternoon in Málaga at the end of the trip.

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