Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cadiz, Spain


Expecting to only have one night at Marina Puerto America (30 euros) I got up early to head into town. On the way to get some breakfast I stopped in the office and was told I could stay for another day. This was a relief but I was still motivated to get into Cadiz and Roger's great cathedral tour.
(An aside: Cadiz Bay is the site of one of the most, if not the most famous sea battles - the battle of Trafalgar. England won at the cost of Lord Nelson who was killed. But that is a story for October.)
Cadiz is a very old town, founded by the Phoenicians over 3,000 years ago, settled by the Romans and Moors, attacked by Carthage and Hannibal, destroyed by the Visigoths, settled later by the Portuguese and in 1902 was the site of the signing of the first Spanish constitution. It is much smaller than I expected with a population of about 125,000 and a size of 12 square kilometers. Given that it is an island one would expect that it had not been overrun as much as it has been, each new conqueror just made the walls higher.
I headed downtown - the marina is on the wrong end of the commercial port so it is about a 1 km walk to the town. I carried my camera and computer with me as I was informed that there were several free WiFi sites downtown. Short story I never found one that worked.  The city has a very strong Moorish influence, the streets are very narrow. Everything is shuttered - the kind of thing you only see in bad neighborhoods in the US but is commonplace in Europe. As I was walking down one narrow street it struck me that back in the days of horses and chamber pots (emptied into the street) that this must have been some ripe city. I explored the cathedral, the public market (food) and wandered around unsuccessfully looking for WiFi.
After a bit I decided to head to the Real Club Nautico de Cadiz, located next to the marina and reputed to have WiFi. They did but it was not working. They do have a very nice restaurant that is open to the public so I relaxed and had a bit of lunch.  Realizing it was still early in the day I unburdened myself of all the hardware and headed back into Cadiz to explore some more. Of course that was when I found a public Internet site that is reputed to have WiFi. I rented a terminal for 30 minutes (1 euro) and did my major notifications to my family that I am here safe.
Heading back to Reboot I once again passed the commercial port that was quickly filling up with tall ships from the race. The signs all said that it would be open tomorrow (which is actually today as I write this.)  Before I could go to work on the furler I was offered a beer. Then another beer. Then to come over to their boat. Then we had some wine. Snacked on Ham carved from a haunch. XO came to visit them. More beer, more wine. Great conversation.
They are two Spanish sisters and their husbands (partners?) The one sister works at the Spanish consulate in Tangiers, the other couple live in Milan, Italy. The husband (T.K.) from Milan does ERP implantation consulting at the moment for Shell Oil. We had fun talking shop. They had rented the boat for a week of holiday.
We talked a bit about the economy of Europe and in particular Spain, Portugal and Italy. They indicated that it is really bad with very high unemployment. Greece is apparently a huge mess. They all agreed that one of the biggest problems is political corruption.
As the sun was setting (and so was I) I was told that this had just been the warm up and we needed to go down town for dinner. I was invited to come along, but XO had to go to bed. After all he is only 3.  We hopped into two taxies and headed for the old and non-tourist part of town. We had a great dinner al fresco. I didn't order anything - we had about 4 different courses of local fish and some wonderful sweets for desert. I tried to contribute but was told that the evening was on them. What a treat. We then went in search of music and a nightcap (like I really needed a nightcap - we had continued to drink through dinner) and ended up back at the port. We discovered that the Talk Ships festival had opened.  In we went. The ships were all docked but none were entertaining visitors. At the Italian ship Amerigo Vespucci there was a line of young men on the rail and a gaggle of young women on the shore. There was one "old salt" on the ship - perhaps 50 years old. I yelled up "I have seen this before." He said, "yes, that is why I am up here, it is safe." We had a good laugh. There was a concert going on at the far end of the pier - it broke up just as we arrived.  What to do? My hosts said "more beer of course." We wandered around a bit more and then took a cab home.
This morning, well, what can I say...
I have been granted another day in the marina, tomorrow I relocated to Rota at the North end of the bay. I expect to stop in the Navy base and then plan my trip to Gibraltar.
Off to find a WiFi connection so I can send this and wander the tall ships festival.
Fair winds and following seas.

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