Saturday 14th May: Arrival day in Cadiz.
It was somewhat bitter-sweet to wake up to sunshine and clear blue skies this morning. ‘Sweet’ because this made for better driving conditions down to Cadiz but ‘bitter’, too, in that we had not had a morning like this during our entire 5 day stay in Seville and nor Lisbon prior to that either! We’d noted last night how clear skies and sunshine really impact your appreciation of a venue. There was an almost festive mood last night as we wandered through the cobbled lanes of Seville Old Town, along with hoards of others though, and I think the whole of Seville was out celebrating the appearance of blue sky and sunshine! We’re hoping the run of bad weather is behind us now and that we can start using the remaining 90% of clothing in both our bags. The forecast for Cadiz is for sun and that’s a start.
The rental car was booked for a 10 am pick up from the train station area and the collection went smoothly. The trip to Cadiz was only 90 minutes or so and since check in at Cadiz wasn’t until 2 pm we decided to visit one of the popular ‘white towns’ or ‘Pueblo Blanco’ along the way. Arcos de la Fontera wasn’t too much of a detour for our route to Cadiz and this had been reported to be rather spectacular as the Old Town is perched high up on the edge of a cliff. We are visiting another cliff-top town, Ronda, after our two nights in Cadiz but this ‘Pueblo Blanco’ would hopefully be worth the detour.
It only took us 90 minutes to make the journey to Arcos and, more importantly, to find parking. We spent about 2 hours wandering the narrow cobbled lanes of the pretty historic centre and had a fantastic tapas lunch in a little square located right beside a Convent. Mark was glad to sit down as he found it much easier then to monitor how the Swans were faring against Richmond.
The convent beside our lunch venue was the 1642 Convent of the Mercedarias Nuns and was rather interesting given it is a ‘closed’ order convent. The Convent is obviously closed to visitors but at the entrance way, there was a small portal with a revolving window where you could buzz to purchase the nun’s homemade biscuits. You would need to put the money down and they would then turn the biscuits around to you all without any other contact. We’re aware that Cadiz is the oldest European city but we really felt like we’d stepped back in time in Arcos. We eventually headed our way back down the hill to the car and with the only problem being that news came through that the Swans lost by one point in the dying minute of the game.
From Arcos de la Fontera it was only a 45 minute drive to Cadiz and our hotel was located right next to the Cathedral and, rather appropriately, is called La Catedral Hotel Cadiz. This is a 3-star boutique hotel but, after the last apartment, we were looking forward to having any kind of a bedroom with windows.
At this early point in our car travels, I can report that the car is going well, the roads are very good and well signposted and Mark’s driving is good too. Although, when we first set off I do recall saying at the end of our last European driving trip that I’d never do this again. We shall see how it goes after a few days!
Navigation to La Catedral Hotel was relatively easy despite a massive, and obviously new, over-water bridge sending the Sat-Nav and Mark’s phone GPS system into overdrive. The Hotel is rather quaint and situated on a square right opposite the cathedral. The place seems rather lively and there was a Holy Communion party in progress on the ground floor when we arrived, and one possibly on the rooftop too, with the ground floor one still going on some 4 hours later and it doesn’t look like finishing anytime soon.
We ventured out for a bit of a walk, chilled over a drink at a nearby Plaza and did a bit of people watching and decided on a dinner venue that Mark sourced from Trip Advisor, Cafe Royalty. Dinner was great at Cafe Royalty but one of the more interesting things we noted was another Holy Communion function going on in the Plaza where we were dining. It seems that it must have been a Holy Communion extravaganza weekend here.