Cádiz, Spain

Karie on Jun 21st 2008 01:36 am

I think we only heard English once the entire time we were in Cádiz.  It was awesome.  Its beaches are definitely a tourist destination, but mostly for the Spaniards.  Cádiz, the oldest continuously inhabited city in western Europe, is only connected to the mainland by a small strip of land.  It’s pretty far down there and the public transportation is terrible, so most backpackers or foreign tourists don’t make their way down… but we did, and it was well worth the trip.

Getting into Cádiz isn’t too difficult (especially if you’re coming from Seville), but getting around the town stinks.  The train is used a bit like a Metro/subway system, as you can use it to get from one end of town to the other.  The problem is that the trains only go once an hour (in Barcelona we complain if we have to wait more than three minutes for the next Metro train).  The buses are just as bad.  The good news is that taxis are cheap, so it’s a good option if you just missed the train and don’t want to wait another 59 minutes.

Depending on where you stay, many things are within walking distance.  Both the train & bus station are near the Old Town.  There are also beaches in that area, but “THE” beach, Playa Victoria – the greatest beach in all of Spain – is a bit of a hike away.  We opted to stay near that beach, and go into town for the day, but you could also do it the other way around, depending on your priorities.

I might have been ok hanging out on Playa Victoria the whole time and never seeing old town, but once I got there I realized it was worth braving the public transit system.  Of course we climbed the Cathedral bell tower.  Our ticket also gave us admission to see some excavated foundations dating back to 1100 B.C.  However, one of the coolest pieces of history in the city is free.

They recently discovered some ruins while doing some construction, and upon excavating, realized that they had stumbled across the largest Roman Theatre on the Iberian Peninsula and the 2nd largest in the world.  It’s still being excavated (you can tell that it was a lot bigger than what is currently uncovered), but it’s open to the public and completely free.  I just cannot get my arms around how an entire city can be built ON TOP of things like this!  Who decided to fill that in and build on top of it??  It just amazes me to think of what else we might be walking on and not even know it yet.

Anyway, back to Playa Victoria.  It wasn’t that it was more beautiful than Croatia, because let’s face it, the Atlantic is a far cry from the Adriatic.  There’s not one specific reason why Playa Victoria has earned our Favorite Beach award.  There are many: the soft sand (you don’t find many sandy beaches around Europe), the waves, the umbrellas, the relaxed atmosphere, everybody playing in the water, etc… I think we liked it because it felt like home, except the bathing suits are smaller and nobody speaks English.  However, despite the skimpy bathing suits (on both men & women), another thing I liked is that it didn’t feel like the fashion show that you see at some beaches.  It seemed like people were there to relax and hang out with friends, and not just to show off their tan lines (or lack thereof).

We found the city to be less expensive than most, although the restaurants right on the beach are still overpriced, as is expected.  We also found the city to be friendly and patient when our Spanish failed us. I had read some reviews that Cádiz was not welcoming to foreign tourists, but we didn’t find that to be the case.  Maybe because we tried.  It’s true that you can get by with English in most of the big cities around Spain, but if you don’t speak any Spanish, I’d recommend keeping your phrasebook handy in Cádiz. Not only is it the considerate thing to do, but it’s the only way you’ll get anywhere.  Just tell the cabbie, “vamos a la Playa Victoria!”  Don’t forget the sunscreen.

Filed in Photo Gallery,Spain,Travels | Comments (1)

One Response to “Cádiz, Spain”

  1. Nomadic Matton 09 Jul 2008 at 8:48 pm

    looks beautiful…but whats even more beautifu lis the fact you are up to date…

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