Cadiz, Spain - April 15, 2015
Early this morning we arrived in Cadiz - pronounced caa-dith. There is a "th" lisp in southern Spain (example Valencia is Valen"th"ia and Andalu"th"ia). Most people on the ship were heading to Seville (about a 90 minute drive) but we went to Seville in January 2014. This time we decided to take a tour to Jerez de la Frontera for sherry tasting and horses. This area of Spain is known for sherry, bull fighting, flamenco dance and beautiful Spanish (Andalusian) horses.
This area gets 300 days of sunshine/year. Today was not one of them. Although we did get some sun in Jerez.
Cadiz is on a peninsula so on our drive out we saw all the beach area. Our guide told us that people eat lunch at 3 pm, dinner at 10 pm and stay out on the beach until 1 am (they light the beach at night). It's no wonder the Spanish need a siesta! He also told us there is 40% unemployment rate. What?!? Maybe it's the 40% that stay up until 1am at the beach?
On our drive to Jerez we also saw the salt mines, vineyards, pink flamingos and the big black Osborne billboard bull. Sherry wine can only be produced in this area of Spain - called the sherry triangle. All of the vineyards are out of town but the wineries are downtown. We visited Gonzalez Byass - found in 1835 and now being run by the fifth generation of the Gonzalez family. The tour was very interesting. We learned about the grapes, the process to make sweet vs. dry sherry, the barrels (which last 80 years and then are sold to Scotland for scotch aging), we saw casks that royalty and famous people signed who visited (Lana Turner, Steven Spielberg, Picasso, Winston Churchill...). We also saw the little ladder that leads to a glass of sherry for the mice to enjoy with some cheese (tapas) - true story. Oh, and we tasted two types of sherry - both white, one dry and one sweet. I still don't like sherry but if I had to choose, I'd take the dry. You can check out my reaction on James' video from the day. The bodegas are stunning - full of character.
Next up, the Royal Andalusia School of Equestrian Arts. This is also in the middle of the city and it is spectacular. It is the most famous dressage school in Europe along with Austria. They only take 5-8 students per year and students come from all over the world to train. It is a 4 year course that combines theory and practice. There is also saddle making taught at the school. We visited the stables which are immaculate, the horses are so regal and the tack room is incredibly organized and temperature controlled for the conditioning of the leather. We watched some practice in both inside and outside arenas. The students are good but the instructors are amazing. One horse looked like it was dancing on a cloud.
We returned to the ship and headed out to explore the old town of Cadiz. We had a great time exploring until it started pouring and we had to make a long trek back to the ship in the rain. With no umbrella.
I have to mention the orange blossoms in this area. The blossoms are just about done but the smell is divine! Fresh and sweet.
We learned that our captain is leaving us tomorrow. He was just subbing for a month on the Eurodam so I assume/hope we get a new captain when he leaves! We watched an incredibly talent violinist tonight, Craig Halliday. He even got a standing ovation. That rarely happens on a Holland America cruise!
We watched a very quick but stunning sunset on a great day of sherry, horses and exploring Cadiz.