Cadiz and Chiclana de la Frontera

Susan's childhood friend Karen lives in the coastal town of Chiclana and invited us to stay with her a couple of days, so after two nights in Seville we picked up our rental car and drove south about 80 miles to the seaport town of Cadiz, about 20 miles from Chiclana. We had plans to meet in the lobby of a prominent hotel late Friday afternoon, but as we got there several hours early we enjoyed walking along the corniche, looking out to sea, and exploring an old fort. We then turned into the town's old streets, exploring several plazas. We were impressed by the plazas, the public squares that appear every couple of blocks in towns and cities all over Spain, where people gather as houses have little outdoor space of their own. Cadiz is a very pretty town, and the views, both in town and out toward Morocco, near the Strait of Gibraltar, were splendid. (Bonus trivia: its beach stood in for Cuba's in the Bond film "Die Another Day.")

We had a wonderful reunion with Karen, whom Susan knew from elementary school, enjoying tea in the outdoor lounge of the Parador Hotel. Karen had bussed in from Chiclana, so after I retrieved the car and picked them up, Karen directed us to Chiclana where we enjoyed a cool beer overlooking a bay filled with boats resting on sand as the tide was well out. Across the street was the Fishermen's Association (Asociacion de Pescadores), a sort of private club that allowed diners, and we repaired there for a large platter of fried fish for dinner-- delicious.

On Saturday we drove into Chiclana, parked and walked to the crowded public market. I've never seen such beautiful seafood. Oh for a kitchen. Perhaps I should have discussed with Karen first?

We got lucky for lunch, finding a small cafe just outside the market, where we repaired for a plate of fried anchovies and tiny prawns, with a couple of "canyos," 8- to 10 ounce draught beers. Fish and two beers each came to about $7. Though small the bar had a small outdoor area and was teeming with locals. It was delicious.

After lunch we wandered the town a bit more. The pedestrian commercial area was hosting a Spanish travel event, where people could buy tickets to sample regional foods. I didn't fancy a styrofoam plate of paella myself, but it was well-attended by locals, no doubt eager for a change to their usual Saturday ramble.

Later we and Karen drove to Chiclana's wonderful beach and Susan and I did our usual 5 minutes in the water. We later repaired to a beach cafe for some octopus and more beers, enjoying a truly beautiful sunset over the Atlantic.

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