Stories of 2019 #58: The Train to Cádiz

Whilst we loved the city, the sound of waves crashing on the beach and the sand between our toes was calling our names! Especially, as it was so hot. We needed a dip to cool off.

Before leaving for Seville, I had had a quick look at how far the nearest beach was and how easy it was to get to. There I found Cádiz – an ancient port city in the Andalusia region and only an hour and a half on the train.

So, on the Monday we caught the 12pm train to the Cadíz from Sevilla Santa Justa station.

What we learnt on this trip was that Google Maps lies. We thought the train station was going to be miles away but to our surprise, the train station of Cadíz was literally just around the corner to the main square. Like Seville, Cadíz is a maze and over the next 24 hours we had several moments of thinking, ‘oh we are here?’ after coming out of a narrow street and being stood, once again, in the main square. I tell you, these Spanish cities are not the most straightforward.

With the sun shining, we sat outside a cafe in the Plaza de la Cathedral, where we admired the granduer of the square, whilst drinking large espressos and using all of our brain power to finish our crossword.

But we came here for the beach and a dip in the sea, so that was the next item on the agenda. The coastline is dotted with brightly painted houses and is said to be the twin to Havana in Cuba.

The Atlantic waves crashed against the sea walls as we made our way around the peninsula to Playa de la Caleta, the cities beach. The small cove is sandwiched between two forts; the Castilla de San Sebastían and the Castillo de Santa Catalina. Along the back of the white-shored beach is their mock-Moorish, oriental-inspired bath house, or in Spanish balneario. Fun fact: Bond’s Die Another Day (2002) was famously filmed on this beach, when Halle Berry strode out from the sea in her orange bikini. And, I mean, me and Jessamyn looked exactly like that trying to plunge ourselves into the freezing cold sea! It was quiet uncanny.

Swimsuit – & Other Stories

We had not had anything to eat since our breakfast back in Seville at a cafe called Filo, which was so unbelievably good that I am dedicating a whole post to it (keep eyes peeled), and some crisps and bananas on the train. So, our bellies were starving! The good thing about the Spanish culture is that dinner is always late so you can afford to have lunch at 4pm. We both fancied a sandwich rather than a tapas style lunch and opted to go to the Spar for fresh bread, tomatoes and oranges. This ended up being such a good lunch that we both inhaled and cost us each around 30p…

In Cadíz we choose again to stay in a hostel which we booked through Hostel World called La Casa Morada. At first, we did not think we were able to get in the door or check in with no one on reception whilst we ate our sandwich and oranges in the common area. Eventually the man arrived to check us into our dorms. Phew! We were planning potential sleeping spots on the sofa or the beach. Again, the hostel was in a great location, clean and had all the facilities we needed. A quick freshen up after the beach we headed straight back out to get the most out of Cadíz.

And by this I mean trying the local delicacies. AKA, ice cream! I had seen this place on Instagram called Verde Pistachio and we made it our mission to try it. And boy, was it a good choice. Now as we were on holiday and you know, calories don’t count, we both went for the larger chocolate and nut cone with two scoops each. I had salted (SALTED!!) pistachio and dark chocolate, which was bloody amazing, and Jessamyn had pistachio and vanilla. Quiet possibly this was the biggest ice cream I had ever eaten and for the whole time it took us to eat these scoops of utter deliciousness we either did not speak and simply savoured the amazing flavour or we could not stop laughing at how good it was! Does that happen to anyone else? You just can’t stop laughing when something is so so good? Laughing in disbelief? Or, maybe it was the sugar…

I WANT THIS NOW!!

Cadíz was beautiful and I simply loved the way that no matter what street you headed down, your eyes were busy trying to take in all the detail. The sinuous streets are shabby, yet romantic and you just have to wander in any direction the wind takes you to come to one of the cities neighbourhoods such as El Pópula, Santa Maria and La Viña. All with a different story to tell. Cadíz is said to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe, so there are definitely lots of stories to be told in these streets.

Semana Santa continued through the streets here as well and we decided to head to the front to catch a glimpse of the sun setting and less crowds. However, as we had only come to stay for one night and really only one day, we only had the clothes we were wearing. Jessamyn in a short dress and myself in shorts and a top and Cadíz on this day decided to be extremely windy and goose-bump inducing! Determined to see the sunset and probably looking like crazy tourists in barely any clothes whilst everyone else was in jeans, coats and scarfs, we sat on the sea wall and enjoyed the sounds of the waves and the burnt orange sun.

Sunset and us two cold, we sought the warmth of a sweet sangria and dinner. And you will never guess what we found… vegan tapas. Yes! Vegan tapas in a city of fried fish, cheese and meat. We did not even use the Happy Cow app on this occasion, the vegan Gods were simply there for us. We pretty much had the whole menu, with the seitan fillet being the favourite. We both reviewed a solid 8/10!

The next day our train was at 2pm and we wanted to know more about this historical city. We wanted to learn about the culture and history of Cadíz and we decided to join the free walking tour at 10am, which allowed us plenty of time to pack up and also have lunch before going back to Seville. Breakfast of cereal and toast was included in the price of the hostel so before checking out we had a bite to eat and a chat with some of the others staying there also.

The free walking tour was really insightful and provided us with so much information about the city of Cadíz. It lasted for around 2 hours and we weaved in and out of the streets, hearing of stories from the past and learning about the people of Cadíz. Time peeled back down each street as our tour guide lead us from the centre to the beach and we finally gained an understanding of the city. Previously when I have done free walking tours in other European cities, there are normally around 30 people all taking part. But just to show you how un-touristy this ancient city is to English people, only six people spoke English and the English speaking tour was almost cancelled due to the lack of us. The Spanish speaking group was massive! This had its advantages as we got a more intimate tour of the city.

Two o’clock rolled round pretty quickly and we were once again back at the train station. Sad to leave the beach and the beautiful port city of Cadíz but excited by the lure of the city, our train pulled away and we watched Cadíz fade into the distance. Glad we took a mini-trip on our trip to see more of what Andalusia had to offer and only confirmed my thoughts of Spain being a truly wonderful, rich and exciting place to be!

Next stop: Seville, calling at flamenco shows and more cocktails…

Stories of 2019 #43: 2019 Travel Plans

2019 is a year of unknowns. Which is what life is – unknown. But at the moment, I wish I knew which path my life was going to take. I know everyone says you should relax and enjoy this time off but I am a person who loves to be busy, outside and having a sense of purpose really and at the moment I am still in the adjusting process. I bet when I finally start to enjoy my time without a career, I will get one! We can all guess that, can’t we?

But the one thing not unknown at the moment is where I am traveling to this year! Now, this is exciting. From camping to cruises, 2019’s travel and holidays are looking like they are set to be extremely fun. And also growing as many places are being added to my list…

Brighton

We have family friends – Justine and Glen – who live just outside the cool city of Brighton and we are fortunate enough to go down south and visit. However, I have not been since 2017! The last time I went it was a beautifully sunny day, as the pictures show. We went on the I360 and ate fish and chips on the seafront followed by an ice-cream, of course. One thing I love about Brighton is North Laine – packed full of small, quirky and independent stores and cafes – it is easy to spend your whole day mooching around the shops. We then escape the city life, to West Sussex, where our friends own a beautiful house on the front. I am so looking forward to this and revisiting one of my favorite spots.

Cruise

Also dubbed as the ‘booze cruise’ according to my sister’s boyfriend. This is our annual family holiday and with an extra special treat as we will be away for my birthday. We fly from Stanstead to Corfu, where we will board our ship, before sailing to Slovenia, Venice, Croatia, and Montenegro. All the places I have always wanted to go to! Especially Montenegro. Serenaded on a gondola to bathing in the Krka waterfalls in Spilt, I am already planning outfits and bikinis for each place. But you thought cruises were for old people? Well, you have got it all wrong. I have been on four cruises now, this years being my fifth, and they are full of things to do and an endless list of food and drinks that will keep you busy if there is nothing you fancy doing. On one cruise ship by Royal Caribbean, there was even a full-sized ice-rink, zip wire, and elevating bar?! Having not been back at sea for almost five years, I am excited to get back on board the ‘booze cruise.’

Camping

When I was younger, we were always camping. We even spent a whole two weeks in Cornwall, living in our tent (although was cut short due to the endless rain). There is nothing quite like waking up to the sounds of the birds and sitting outside with your morning cup of tea before going to the shower block to get ready. Some people do not like the idea of camping and think that it is basic but not for us Paines. We have carpet, electric and even our hairdryers. We are probably more glamping, than camping. Anyhow, nearby to our home in Stevenage we have a campsite where we are going to. I know it sounds funny to go camping literally 20 minutes down the road but it is just nice to be out in the tent, it does not matter how far or close you are.

Seville

Back with my partner in crime, we are off on another trip! After the last one being fueled by Aperol and tiramisu in Italy, we are hopping over to Spain to test the tapas and sangria. Jessamyn called me one night and asked if I wanted to go away? Obviously, my answer was yes and 20 minutes later we had picked Seville and our flights were booked. Our main reason to pick Seville was the warm temperatures in April and the fact I saw an article on Suitcase Magazine saying the streets were lined with lively bars and flamenco dancing. We are there for four days, so plenty of time to explore the city. However, we have booked during their Holy Week when there are some interesting parades going on… wish us luck!

South West Coastal Path?

Now, this is not set in stone as of yet but I have wanted to do this walk for so long. I am thinking about doing a small section for two weeks rather than the whole 600 or so miles, although I would love to do that! But maybe to ease myself into the idea of solo-trekking, a couple of weeks is enough? I am currently reading two books about people who have walking the whole path and it just sounds breathtaking! Have you ever done the South West Coastal Path or know anyone who has because I would love some advice/recommendations.

So far that is where I am off too and possibly (hopefully) a few more!

Where are you going in 2019?