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Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Flags, rags, ferryboats, scimitars and scarves

Cadiz has water on three sides; to the west and north the Atlantic waves roll against the walls and to the east is the huge sheltered bay, in this city you are never very far from the sea. This means it is a city that will disappear as soon as sea levels start to rise, so it seemed worth spending a couple of days visiting it while it is still possible.

We arrived by ferry, surely the only way to travel to Cadiz. Port cities always have a certain bustle and a sense of people coming and going that has always appealed to us; they are cities where lots of people are travellers and so we feel comfortable there. Cadiz is full of light and fresh air; with charming plazas to sit in, streets that open out to the sea and the wide horizon and no high-rise buildings, as these are too expensive to build safely in a city sitting on sand.

The peculiar geography of Cadiz means it can only expand to the south and this constraint makes it a very compact city and ideal for walking around. We followed the coast along the blustery Atlantic side, watching the feral cats scavenging and fishermen mending their boats and through the shady formal parks at the northern tip. The trees in these parks are all native to North America; this is after all the city that Christopher Columbus sailed from for his second voyage and which monopolised European overseas trade in the eighteenth century.

We now have daylight until after 19.00 and the blue skies, warm sun and fresh breezes makes it feel like an English spring, although it is only just February.

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