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Fizzing with excitement - Kiwi family's Spanish sojourn

Fizzing with excitement – Kiwi family’s Spanish sojourn

Peter Reeves and his wife quit their jobs to travel the world with their two kids: They arrive in their new home for a while – Cadiz, Spain.

Our high-speed train was travelling south through the beautiful Spanish countryside at a blistering 250kmh as Sue and I alternated between playing, feeding and holding for sleep Matilde.

 

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.

 

We were fizzing with excitement about what lay ahead combined with a fair amount of anxiety about what type of city Cadiz would be and what our apartment would be like.

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Our 5-hour journey from Madrid seemed to rush pass and before we knew it, we were disembarking the train and walking out of the terminal into the hot Spanish sun in our new hometown.

 

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We were carrying everything we were travelling with, but we decided to walk through the city to our apartment to get a feel for the place right from the start. 

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.

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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.

Just another 500-year-old plus building which we’d encountered, all taken in over our 15-minute walk from the train station.

Our apartment was two floors up overlooking the south-east corner of the central market right in the heart of this incredible historic city.

No lifts in this old building, so we hauled our luggage up the narrow staircase and into our old colonial-style Spanish apartment.

At this point, we were two for two as both Cadiz and our apartment exceeded our expectations and we were now excited about settling in and exploring our new neighbourhood.

 

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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.

 

Sue, being a native Spanish speaker, was also having the odd issue understanding our new locals, due to the accent and style in which the people of the Andalusian region spoke.

Everything was new and exciting, including the food and the timing of eating.

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.

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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.

 

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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.

Lagos was another amazing destination to visit and we were enjoying our time spent wandering around the old town interacting with plenty of other tourists holidaying here in the high season. 

The Portuguese food was outstanding, and the world-famous Peri Peri sauce was differing and a closely guarded secret between each restaurant we visited.

 

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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. 

The laidback relaxed vibe of the place along with large open spaces meant the feel of Lagos was more local and genuine than other popular beach destinations within southern Europe.

We drove back to Cadiz happy that we had endeavoured to make the effort to travel to Lagos, and it left us with a hunger to explore more of this amazing country. 

Back in Cadiz we were finally beginning to get used to the constant noise and the heat as I started my university classes and got into my Spanish studies.

 

Life was being lived at a different pace, and our attitude towards it was beginning to align more with our surrounding. 

Our decision to come to Cadiz was being rewarded with a rich and growing understanding of how another culture lives and breathes their daily life, in a completely different corner of the globe.

Follow me on Instagram: @peter.reevesnz

Ratings: Cadiz, Spain

Ease of Travel with Kids: ★★★ The people were very kid friendly, but restaurants didn’t have change tables and had very different opening hours.

Smoking was everywhere.

Activities Sights: ★★★★  Walking the old city.

Cathedrals, museums and ancient fortified walls and small castles. Great beaches, bars and restaurants, and the central market.

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.

Best or Worst Travel Accessory: ★★ WORST: Separate Sippy cup for baby. Good at home but not required while travelling.

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

Ease of Travel with Kids: ★★★★  Friendly and inviting locals.

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.

Activities Sights: ★★★ Not a great deal of activities and sights to see. Good coastal walking.

Beautiful beaches. Small old city to explore.

Local sights in Sagres and the rest of the Algarve region.

Best Little-Known Tip: ★★★★  A must-do is the coastal walk which takes in the rock formations and caves on the western coastal area from Lagos city centre.

Can be completed by kayak or walked.

Best or Worst Travel Accessory: ★★★★ BEST: A couple of water-proof or bath books for the baby.

Can be read as a night- time story but also taken to the beach or out and about. Light- weight and can be stuffed into the day-pack easily.

Overall Rating: ★★★★  Great feeling and vibe. A busy tourist destination but plenty of coastal walks and beaches to get away from it all.

Great food, restaurants and bars. Locals are friendly and interactive.

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