Cádiz: On the road in perhaps the oldest city in Europe


I say it out: That with Cádiz and I was no love at first sight. But when we have to leave the city again, there is a lot of what we call farewell pain. For reasons.

The door is stuck down. Always. When she finally gets up, we have to go through the stairwell. Level by level, right to the top. Past the apartments of the foreign neighbors. Rarely do we meet somebody, often only hear dull rattling and voices. Occasionally, the smell of food creeps out and gets stuck in the potted plants in the hallway.

At the bottom of the stairs, another gray metal door leads us to the roof and to our apartment in Cádiz: a little house on the house. There we are very close for us and the sky. Light blue is that and sometimes small clouds walk on it. And then there is this light. It reminds me of Cape Verde and of Lisbon and makes me happy and melancholy at the same time.

Seen from up here, this city is made up of rooftops and antennas that stretch like eager arms and fingers into the sky. In between are church towers whose bells accompany full hours of beautiful melodies, linen that flutters on linen and seagulls that vibrate loudly through the air.

And then there is this bed under the open sky. There I lie and blink in the sun. Must play the lottery - urgently - and win, that goes through my head. Enough so that I never have to do anything else but lie here, sit by the sea, eat churros con chocolate. For breakfast, lunch, dinner. So I drift and explore every corner of the city. Bit by bit. Chance should guide me, without plan and without haste. In the evening I would sit in an alley or in one of the many small squares in a bar, drink a glass of wine and look back with a smile on my face. Today, tomorrow, preferably forever. I'll try first how it is. Start small, with not even a handful of days.

Cadiz and I - no love at first sight

It almost seems like this is love with Cádiz and me at first sight. But it's not that easy. As we drive in, past the Neustadt, I wonder what this is about to become. But when we later roll our bags from the parking lot at the station and lose ourselves in the tangle of the old town streets, the tide turns. Timid affection becomes connectedness that grows daily. And when we have to leave the city again, there is a lot of what is called farewell pain.

Because at this time I will have completely fallen for the old town of Cádiz, because it is beautiful for me, without exaggerated pomp and Schickimicki. Because a very special charm emanates from her. That's what pretty much all those who have been here say in the perhaps oldest city in Europe.

Cadiz for breakfast

The days always start the same. Lead me through the streets of this city in the morning, when the air is still cold. Passing through El Pópulo , across the Plaza de San Juan de Dios , a main square in the city where the town hall stands and the historic old town begins.

Continue through Plaza Catedral to the jewel of Cádiz, the cathedral . But that's only later. Because I turn off first on the Calle Compañía , which is very lively due to its many shops, bars and restaurants. At the end, the Plaza Topete awaits me, also known as Plaza de las Flores . But that's just his unofficial name, because there are so many flower stalls here.

And then I arrived at the place where we have breakfast every morning. At La Marina we enjoy churros con chocolate - a type of long donut, several of which are ordered and served with thick hot chocolate (as the churros are dipped in). There is also a glass of milk coffee. Probably one of the loudest places in the city, but you can hardly start more typical of the day and incidentally quite wonderful people watch.

Immediately afterwards, we stroll to the market hall "Mercado Central de Cádiz" , which is just a few meters from La Marina. The market is considered one of the first in Spain and opened in the 1830s. At some stalls, ready-to-serve meals are served, with many others offering fresh produce. Not a day goes by without a thousand beautiful things stuffing in our pockets.

And then the city becomes my island without time

After breakfast and the market visit is still a lot of the day left. Cádiz makes me feel that time has stopped. Maybe she even stopped living as usual. At least it has become meaningless. There are moments when it gets light and eventually it gets dark again. In between there is idleness and every minute I spend here longer, I like this condition better.

The man is not always with me because he still has a cold. Sometimes after the market visit, he goes back to the cottage on the house and takes a break. Go to bed under the sun, sleep, read or dream about my lottery win.

Then I mix alone with the people of the city and let myself drift for hours. It does not have to be anything. Can do everything. Do or leave. Can sit on this island without time. Quite unmolested. Can enjoy the sun for as long as I want. Can listen to the sea as it spills against the walls of the city. Can see palm trees and houses where the shadows of seagulls dance. I'm wandering around. Let me down. Count boats, do not count them. Just watch them rocking on the waves. How nice that is when you do not have to. If you can get so close to a city this way.

But we also conquer the streets and squares of El Pópulo, La Viña and Santa María . Seeing churches and palaces, our noses keep poking into entrances and courtyards because they please us so much. We discover mysterious places, such as the former women's hospital Hospital de Mujeres . And at noon we drop into a bar, for example near the pretty Plaza de Mina , and let five be straight. Order a small snack and a glass of wine to later walk through the streets of Cádiz.

On the waterfront and city beach we explore the natural limits of Cádiz

Since the old town of Cádiz is completely enclosed by the sea and can only be reached via a promontory, we also spend plenty of time exploring the natural boundaries of our island.

We walk along the Almeda Apocada , a wide promenade that leads us to Parque Genovés , the city's botanical garden. A beautiful oasis, even in the so-called winter. We sit in the sun and drink coffee, celebrate it downright. Because if we have to go back to Berlin in a few days, it will be bitterly cold and will take a long time before we can sit out there, without getting any bruises.

After the coffee, we continue to the Playa de la Caleta , the small beach right at the old town, where boats are located and people picnics or go for a walk. Now in January, these are the preferred pursuits and I like that because everyone seems so relaxed.

Best of all, the Cathedral of Cádiz

In the late afternoon, the waterfront leads us directly to the Cathedral of Cádiz , which lies between the historic old town and the sea and which we now finally want to see from the inside. So many times have we walked past the largest building in the city and have seen its golden yellow dome gleaming through the white houses of the city. It really is time and worth it, even if it - and this is also not to be overlooked from the inside - has to fight with the damp and salty air. Just in time for the sunset, we make it to the west tower of the cathedral , where the sea lies at our feet and also the city. And I whisper to her, "Take care of your beauty. We will miss you very much".

Good to know

Do not miss: El Hospital de Mujeres
This little jewel is rather inconspicuous on the outside and therefore easily overlooked - the former women's hospital "El Hospital de Mujeres" and the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen. Built between 1736 and 1749, this hospital is one of the finest examples of 18th-century architecture in Cádiz. Particularly beautiful is the tiled with Sevillian tiles courtyard and a complex staircase. In the chapel you can see the work "La Vision of San Francisco" by El Greco. When we were there in January 2018, very extensive restoration work was in progress and we could only briefly visit the courtyard and the chapel. Outside, there was also a note that you can only enter Fridays between 9:30 and 13:30. Maybe this is still the case. // Calle Hospital de Mujeres, 26

Cathedral of Cadiz and west tower
During our visit, the tower closed half an hour earlier than the cathedral, and they almost did not let us up. It's best to check it out first, so that you do not miss this beautiful view. // Plaza de la Catedral

Observation Tower Torre Tavira
There is another tower in Cádiz, the Torre Tavira, from which one supposedly has the best view, because it is the highest point of the old town. There is also the first camera obscura installed in Spain. // Corner Calle Marqués del Real Tesoro and Calle Sacramento, near the Plaza de las Flores

The botanical garden Parque Genovés
The park with its 100 species of trees, flowerbeds, palm gardens, water features and cafes is perfect for a little breather. In the summer months, theater and concert performances take place on an outdoor stage. // Avenida dr. Gómez Ulla

Central Market Mercado Central de Cádiz
We are really big fans of market halls and if there is one somewhere, then you will definitely find us there. If you feel like it, you should definitely stop by here. // Plaza de la Libertad

Café-Bar La Marina
I have seen some churro bars in Cádiz, but I would always eat my churros con chocolate at La Marina. On Sundays, we were standing in front of closed doors. Do not ask which dramas have been played. Big howl! // Plaza Topete / Plaza de las Flores 1

Wine bar Taberna la Sorbresa
The Taberna la Sorbresa is a good place to have a glass of wine and a bite to eat in the evening. The staff is very friendly with tasty tapas and a good selection of wines. // Calle Arbolí, 4

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