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Fried fish in Cádiz

by Nicky Gardner

Picture above: Waiting for fried fish in Cádiz (photo © hidden europe).


"Cádiz is pretty in a way peculiar to itself." And that's as true today as it was when a traveller penned those words 200 years ago. The most important Atlantic port in Andalucía played a key role in mediating Spain's relationship with the Americas. And it invented the classic fish supper.

There is of course only one proper way to arrive in Cádiz and that is by boat. The Spanish port is perched on a finger of land that was once merely an island in the Bay of Cádiz. Although now connected with the mainland, Cádiz remains a city of the sea, a place that looks out to the water — and surely neither God nor the city’s Phoenician founders expected visitors to arrive overland.

Would that we could say we arrived in Cádiz on a cargo vessel bringing in a haul of fine silks and exotic spices. Real life is more prosaic. We came on a boat from El Puerto de Santa María, which is a mere dozen kilometres east of Cádiz. A regular ferry links the two communities.

There is something rather grand about setting sail from El Puerto and cruising down the Guadalete River with the open Atlantic ahead. This is just what Christopher Columbus did in September 1493, when he embarked on his second voyage to the Americas.

Our journey by sea was marginally less ambitious than that of Columbus, and after just half an hour on a bumpy green and white catamaran we were back on dry land in the very centre of Cádiz.

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