When on the P & O ship Oriana, we visited Cadiz. This is how we think Spain used to be many years ago, traditional, welcoming visitors on their terms, only speaking their language because it suits them.

Cadiz is on the Atlantic southern Spanish coast very close to Gibraltar, so enjoys some of the best of near African warm climate. It is over 3,000 years old, has a natural harbour, and is not far from the inland town of Seville. It was not an easy decision to stay in time-honoured Cadiz

The ship docks very close to the town, so it is not necessary to arrange transfer tickets. Cadiz is on a peninsula, with the sea on three sides, so until you become orientated it is possible to confuse one seafront with another. A good sense of direction helps, but neither of us possessed one this particular day. We ended up walking at least five miles in the warm January sun, each thinking that around the next bend the Oriana would be waiting for us.

This was after we had taken an open top bus to acclimatise our bearings. Some hope. This was a very reasonable 15 Euros each, we bought ours from ship’s reception in advance, but it is just as easy to buy from the booth at the bus stop. As Cadiz is so old, some of the ancient walls bear testimony to this fact. However, where there are street level gaps in the walls, roads have been built to accommodate modern traffic. The streets are very narrow in places, other areas are wide and easy to negotiate.

After our bus journey, we alighted at our original stop, to then have a good walk. And to warm up, because as it was a very warm day, we hadn’t bothered wearing fleeces. Short sleeved shirts draw many pitying looks from other bus passengers. We just shrugged as if we were loving the winds whipping at our goose bumps as the bus sometimes touched 40mph between interesting sight-seeing locations.

A pleasant half an hour of walking on the sunny side of the street found us in a cathedral square, with cafes. Lovely warming thick hot chocolate with churros. These are deep fried sticks of doughnut mix served on a big plate. We also ordered a brandy, which came in a huge measure, so we had to order another chocolate to accommodate. An hour later we had watched the whole of the population of Cadiz and the Oriana pass our table, as well as two weddings at the town hall, adjacent to the cathedral.

Walkies time, seeing many smaller squares, the sea frequently, and walking down narrow streets only wide for delivery cycles or scooters. The shop doorways revealed emporium of varying sizes, some revealing a hidden width of three shops, selling anything from bridal wear, to Gothic clothing, to travel agencies, to fruit and veg, to little bars without seating and male customers three deep at the bar.

Looking into apartment entrances from the street, the vestibule walls would be covered in mosaic tiles, mainly light blue, with indiscernible patterns rubbed away by constant cleaning over the years. Old ladies would be standing chatting outside, mainly wearing traditional black clothing, but some mature attractively sophisticated with more expensive attire. My nerve was insufficient to ask for a viewing inside an apartment. Maybe just as well, because I would not have liked to see it full of IKEA.

We were not hungry, had bottles of water, so were content to wander around, knowing that the elusive Oriana would be there for us sometime. It was a Friday, just after 2pm, we walked past a school entrance in a concentrated residential area, with derelict shops and a small amount of graffiti on the walls. Families were collecting their youngsters, we were surprised at the early hour, but perhaps they had been there since 8am?

As we came away from the school, we both knew that we were hopelessly lost. It made no difference which way we held up our map, the port was elusive, so we stopped to ask a local lady. No English of course, no Spanish for us of course, but she seemed to know where the mobile ‘you are here’ was located. ‘Ah, si, si’, and the finger was pointed for our benefit. It still took a further hour to walk round a revealing bend.

And what did we think of Cadiz? We loved it. Traditional and modern in a tourist friendly location, good for any time of year, but we suspect it must get pretty uncomfortable during the height of the summer. Very easy to walk around, upmarket, very safe feel to it, different palatable food, yes, it could be a great place to return to for a long weekend break.

About Harry Pope

Very few writers earn more than £10,000 annually. Harry is one of the poorer ones. He is no longer middle-aged, as he knows no-one who is getting on for 140. Literary success has come with an attempt at maturity – failed both – but marital stability with Pam has more than compensated. He is an accomplished speaker, talking on a variety of topics, including how not to run a hotel, buried secrets, and what’s it worth. See Harry The Talker. He has five published books, see Harry The Writer. He is Eastbourne’s only licensed sight-seeing guide see Harry The Walker. He has a daily blog see Harry The Blogger. The only site not purchased is www.harrytheeverything.com but that might come, who knows. He was a London funeral director for many years, then started Cheam Limousines in 1990, selling some thirteen years later. Arriving in Eastbourne in the Summer of 2003, Harry and Pam first bought a small guest house, then a large hotel, which proved to be disastrous because of their business partnership with a moron from California. He now walks, and talks, sometimes both at the same time.