Two people were speaking Portuguese. We took a slow morning, doing some laundry in the hostel, taking a bus to a station to get our bus tickets for next Saturday to Madrid, and then going on a hostel city tour.
Queen Isabella’s City Hall in the Plaza of San Juan del Dios started us off. We moved on to see an ancient Roman Theatre that had 25, 000 seats (!) which was discovered by accident in 1980. What a find! Parts of the old city wall were interesting. We heard about Alphonso X who was quite liberal in the 14th C. This tile representation of Jesus looking quite Arabic was from his time.
In Cadiz, you’re never far from the water, which is nice, and the Cadiz citizens make good use of the wonderful beaches that are right in the city. The boys made good use of them, also, enjoying the sunshine and the waves.
The next day the boys went swimming and I went Museuming and Churching. First I looked in at the Parroquia de Santa Cruz, which used to be the cathedral. It had a ‘matching’ statue to the tile Arabic-looking Jesus.
Cadiz was a very wealthy city during the 17th century as most of the wealth that Spain got from the New World came through this port. The wealth shows in their old churches. The cathedral is absolutely huge, and Cadiz is not a large city. It took them a hundred years to plan and then another hundred to construct it. We were told on the tour the day before that one can see this, as they ran out of white stone first, then ran out of brown, giving it sort of a helter skelter look. Anyway, a silver altar in a side chapel is pretty ostentatious—and the church has a gorgeous hand-carved mahogany choir.
On to the Cathedral Museum that had many treasures used by a very rich and powerful church. Gold monstrances were five feet high, ivory was used for heads from the Philippines with a Chinese look, and a familiar ‘Our Lady of Guadalupe’ painting from Mexico was on display.
Our dinner that day was tapas, which we quite like, as we order a variety of things, some of which we aren’t familiar with. That day some ‘patatas fritas’ (fried potatoes) turned out to be a bag of potato chips! But we also had good ham, cheese, a shrimp tortilla, potatoes in aioli, and each got a small gaspacho, with bits of ham and egg in it. We finished it off with ice cream at a Ben and Jerry’s place.
We walked to the other side of the town to view the sunset on June 20th, the longest day of the year, minus one. At the beach we admired an elaborate sand castle that someone had made. Still, the main event was the sun dipping into the Atlantic.
We, three, went sight seeing on Friday, our last day in Cadiz. Our first stop was the wonderful Cadiz Museum with two 6th C. BCE sarcophagi, one found in 1887, and the other found in 1980! How beautiful they are, and how old! This museum also had 21 canvasses painted by Zurbaran, who was considered the preeminent Spanish painter in the 17th century. Later Murillo, his pupil, became the most celebrated Spanish painter, but then fell from public acclaim. He now is being honored as is his rightful place in Spanish art. At age 65, Murillo was painting this altarpiece for the Capuchins Monastery in Cadiz, when he fell from the scaffolding and died a few months later from his injuries.
We stopped in for a quick look at the San Felipe Neri Oratory, clearly a ‘rich man’s’ church with its many gold altars and its lovely oval interior, it’s beautiful dome and its Murillo altarpiece. Since I had to sneak a photo, it really doesn’t do it justice.
The next day we had to get up a little early for the eight-hour bus trip back to Madrid. The scenery was beautiful, as always, especially with the sunflowers looking at us. There are quite a few of these huge black bulls here and there. They make a dramatic statement about Spain!
We got our same room in our same hostel, which we like. We had a terrible lunch at a rest stop on the bus, so we treated ourselves to good salami, cheese, bread, gaspacho, fruit and wine, all of which we bought at the upscale Market San Anton, right in our neighborhood and ate in our kitchen in the hostel.
A walking tour of Historic Madrid led us to several churches and public buildings, and finally to dinner. One fun thing was several blank walls were painted to fool you into
Sunday evening we went to the Plaza de Toros to see a bullfight. There were only two matadors, rather than the three that I have experienced before, meaning that each matador would fight three bulls. In the very first encounter with the bull, when he met the bull by kneeling on the sand, the first matador got thrown into the air, which horrified us, until we could see that the only damage was that his pants got ripped and his bare bun was exposed! When the second matador took the stage, he, also, miscalculated and was thrown by the bull. He was injured, but in a couple of minutes, he limpingly continued, until he killed the bull. He was apparently too injured, though, to fight his second and third bulls, so the ‘ripped pants’ matador had to fight five bulls! We could see that when he appeared for his second bull, his pants had been mended and so the fight went on. There were lots of moments that were artistic, I thought, although I know many people feel that this is really cruel and would like to stop this sport. And, of course, there is much pageantry associated with it. The boys thought it was ‘action packed’ and interesting, but both felt that they didn’t need to see another bullfight on this trip.
We walked over to the Teatro Real, which is the opera house. The opera house had been constructed in 1850, then burned down, then got blown up in the civil war; the shell had been closed for decades. In 1990 they put $100 million into it, and now it is looking great! How exciting to see that Placido Domingo was singing in the opera, “El Postino,” there this week, but when we inquired about tickets, the only ones left were priced at 179 euro (about $225) so a bit out of our price range.
Tapas were on the program Monday evening when we, three, met Roberta Rice on the Plaza Santa Ana. Roberta is Jim Rice’s sister, whom I met when she and her Spanish husband, Jaime, joined us in Partina a couple of years ago. While there, Roberta and Jaime made a delicious Spanish tortilla, and the boys and I have eaten it whenever we saw it on the menu—it is so good. This night we had blood sausage (really good) called Morcilla from Burgos! It happens that Jim and Judy Rice will arrive Thursday to visit Roberta and family. I will join them for lunch on Friday—fun!
Tuesday the boys and I made a day trip to Segovia, a beautiful old town. The highlight was a Roman Aquaduct built in the 1st C. BCE without mortar, and still standing! We also visited the Cathedral—huge and Gothic, with its 26 chapels. We walked down the street to the Alcazar, a fortress that served as the model for Disney’s first castle in California. On the way we saw ‘cochinillo’ advertised at a particular restaurant (roast suckling pig) and came back a little later so I could have some for dinner. What a treat!