“Cádiz, in the early morning hours, when the air is filled with the smell of salt.” (Niña Pastori)
These lyrics sung by Cádiz’ native Niña Pastori perfectly illustrate my feelings for this southern Spanish city. Feelings of hot summers, feelings of yearning, feelings of a long lost love. It’s a perfect song for a perfect city!
I had the chance to stay in Cádiz during one long summer month while attempting to brush up my Spanish language skills. Ever since, when asked about my favourite place in the world, I have no problem answering…
But what is it that makes this place so special and what are the main things to do in Cádiz?
1/ Fall for its charming looks
Cádiz is often called “Habanita” or “little Havana”. Its old streets and houses faded by the harsh sun and time, its wide seaside boulevards and the golden dome of the cathedral do give the old town a feel of a bygone era. Cádiz is very different from other towns and villages I visited in Andalusia, it’s even a bit scruffy from time to time, but its old-fashioned charm will let nobody indifferent.
2/ Fall for its authentic Andalusian feel
Cádiz is still relatively untouched by tourism. A lot of people visit the city on a daytrip and apart from a few language students, most people staying overnight are “tourists” from other parts of Spain. Unlike most of the Spanish coastal regions, Spanish is still the main language here and you’re likely to be greeted with a blank stare if you start a conversation in English… I spent one month in Cádiz to learn Spanish and the city is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the Andalusian lifestyle! I
3/ Linger on the beach
Summer in Cádiz is HOT! So what better way to cool off than at one of its beautiful beaches? My favourite one was “Playa de la Caleta”, situated in the old part of town. Does it look familiar? Could be… it was used in James Bond’s “Die Another Day”!
Playa de la Caleta is the beach where the old town comes together: families with children, the odd language student and the elderly playing bingo! Once the crowds disappear, it’s a great place for an evening picnic! I spent many an afternoon here, reading Spanish tabloids while listening to the small waves lapping up against the colourful fishing boats…
4/ Discover true flamenco
If you’ve ever attended a flamenco show in Barcelona or Madrid, chances are it was of the tap-dance, tourist-trap variety. Flamenco is an Andalusian tradition and the best place to see it amongst locals is in the area of Cádiz, where a lot of the traditional peñas are still filled with local talent. During summer, flamenco takes over the streets. Don’t leave before you know your “cante jondo” from your “buleria”! Watching the singers loose themselves in the deep emotions of this art form is a sight I won’t easily forget!
5/ Binge on the tapas
“Ir de tapeo” (going for tapas) in Cádiz is a must! Whether it’s fresh or fried sea food you’re after, melt-in-your-mouth jamón or aubergines drizzled in honey, you’ll be spoilt for choice! I came across bars where the ham and strings of garlic were hanging from the ceiling, I saw more bull fighting posters than was good for me and my ears enjoyed listening to the harsh “gaditano” accent!
“At nightfall, when I watch Cádiz go to sleep, I can’t help but falling for her” (Niña Pastori)