All the while Emanuel was entertaining himself by talking to other passengers and playing on his iPad. The landscape was arid with what seemed like one olive farm after another dotted intermittently with old colonial-style villages or one-off houses.
Crossing the road, directly beneath an ancient fortified walled section of the old town to a beautiful plaza directly opposite the main port with its statues, water features and the town hall standing proudly at one end was an awe-inspiring first impression of Cadiz.
After several photos and the opportunity to take all the sights in, we continued through the narrow walking only roads until we popped out into another large central plaza. This one was surrounded by bars, restaurants and the main cathedral along with an old church.
We were getting the strong sense we had selected an extremely beautiful ancient city as our new home. Once we’d caught our breath and mopped the sweat off our brows, we continued through another set of narrow streets until we came to the central seafood and fruit and vegetable market.
The next week was spent exploring the city and taking in all the sights, sounds and atmosphere of Cadiz as we found our feet. The locals spoke surprising little English so mine and Emanuel’s Spanish would have to improve to communicate effectively.
Restaurants were open for lunch, typically between 12pm and 3.30pm, then would close, not re-opening until 8pm at night making it hard for us to manage the baby’s feeding and bedtime versus eating our dinner.
The region has a long and rich history which pre-dates the Spanish to the “Moors” who were a nomadic people from North Africa of the Islamic faith. This nomadic existence had continued for centuries in the region where the people have a strong connection with gipsies and the gipsy way of life.
Random singing and dancing by groups of people would occur in the street, or small street performances would pop up out of nowhere adding to the favour.
We had an additional week up our sleeves prior to my university starting and Emanuel’s summer school, plus we were still in a travel mode so opted to rent a car and drive up the Spanish coast and across the border into Portugal.
We continued through the Algarve until we reached our planned destination of Lagos, Portugal. One aspect of Cadiz which was taking time to adjust too was the noise of the place, especially during the night from the streets below our apartment.
The Portuguese food was outstanding, and the world-famous Peri Peri sauce was differing and a closely guarded secret between each restaurant we visited.
The locals were friendly and inviting, and the climate was superb where our hotel pool was well utilised. We took full advantage of having a car as well and drove to the nearby town of Sagres, famous for its large coastal fort and as a surfer destination.
We enjoyed our morning there before heading slightly further up the coast to the westernmost point of continental Europe. The infamous “Last Sausage before America” food cart parked just outside the famous lighthouse which marked this intriguing cliff top location.
The rest of our time in Lagos was spent completing some incredible coastal walks, which included exploring amazing rock formations and caves. Along with time spent on secluded golden sand beaches and taking in the history of the old town and its dubious past involving the slave trade.
Even though Lagos was a popular tourist destination and was jammed packed with people, it seemed more like a forgotten or unknown part of Europe, especially compared to the more well-known main holiday hotspots.
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Smoking was everywhere.
Activities Sights: ★★★★ Walking the old city.
Best Little-Known Tip: ★★★★ Exploring the Old Cathedral and adjoining bell tower. Great history and rewarded with incredible views after the long walk up the spiral staircase.
Takes up space and often leaks. Do without.
Overall Rating: ★★★★ Great city for a short visit or to live for a longer period. It suited our ne and we loved it.
It did take some getting used to in regards to the culture, language and customs.
Ratings: Lagos, Portugal
English widely spoken and it had a safe and kid-friendly feeling. No problems getting baby food heated up or boiling water to heat a bottle.
Local sights in Sagres and the rest of the Algarve region.
Can be completed by kayak or walked.
Great food, restaurants and bars. Locals are friendly and interactive.