This week I have been mostly doing maps.
I seem to have arranged to take a bunch of ladies (my ‘harem’) on a sightseeing visit to my old home of Cádiz in Andalucia, possibly in October. So I’ve been touring around by means of Google Streetview, wiping nostalgic tears from my eyes and planning a number of walks as part of Dai’s Guide to Cádiz. If this works out, maybe I’ll take paying groups in future.
So that’ll be my blog post this week. For example here’s the draft text of Walk 3 (in blue)…
Walk 3: Centro Norte (North Central district)
Let’s leave Plaza San Juan de Dios by a different exit today. At the northern corner, on your right with the docks behind you, you should find a wider thoroughfare, called Calle Nueva (New Street). Head along that for a couple of blocks until the street narrows, and on your left you’ll find Calle Cristobal Colon (Christopher Columbus). Go along that until you find the very narrow Calle Cabrera de Nevares on your right. The street soon widens a little and changes its name to Plaza (then Calle) Mendizábal. Carrying on a bit further and it narrows once more to become Calle Rosario, a busy street of small shops and cafés, including Café de Levante, one of my favourite haunts for coffee and tostadas in the morning (well, I say ‘morning’…) or an evening drink. On Thursdays they host tertulias (gatherings, same meaning as ceilidh), which can be flamenco music, poetry, political discussion, anything.
After crossing Columela, a popular and more modern shopping street, on your right you will find the Oratorio de Santa Cueva  (Holy Cave). This is a subterranean church with a lot of cultural history. It was restored in the Eighteenth Century by a priest who also commissioned Joseph Haydn’s Seven Last Words of Our Saviour on the Cross for performance there. Among the art works by noted painters and sculptors, it boasts a set of paintings by Francisco Goya.
A little further along, a plaque on your left marks the site of the 22-year old Manuel de Falla’s first public recital as a pianist. Rosario finally opens into the Plaza de San Francisco , a fine spot for sitting with a drink and some tapas to watch the world go by (not that there’s any shortage of such spots). There’s an Irish bar beneath a plaque honouring José Mexia Lequerica, an Ecuadorian politician who made an important contribution to the 1812 Cortes.
Rosario briefly changes its name to Callejón del Tinte, before leading you to the charming Plaza de Mina . In la madrugada (the wee small hours) this square can be full of people, particularly the students of Cádiz, drinking and chatting; in the day, children play while their parents relax with a drink outside one of the bars.
On your left and next to the bookshop named after him, a plaque marks the birthplace of Manuel de Falla (1876-1946). A rose and one of his scores are pinned above the door each November 23rd.
The square is home to the Provincial Museum, which houses a number of art works of varying quality, including a statue of my belovéd Gades and the set of large paintings by Francisco de Zurburán (1598-1644). The archeological section stars Cadiz ‘oldest residents’, two marble Phoenician anthropoid sarcophogi, one male and one female; but there’s no romantic tale: the two were actually buried about seventy years apart.
Turn right as you leave the Museum and on the next corner you’ll find Casa Pinillos, a recently restored townhouse which also houses art collections and exhibitions.
Now, the line on the map takes you out of Mina along Calle Enrique de las Marinas, all the way to Calle Ustáriz and along to join the seafront road at the Iglesia del Carmen , but these are dull streets and you can easily cut through any of the earlier ones and turn left once you reach the seafront gardens of the Alameda Apodaca — or just not bother if you’re not that into churches. The gardens are well worth a stroll though; at the eastern end, you’ll find the quirky statue of surrealist poet Carlos Edmundo de Ory (1923-2010)  (born just over the road), who has climbed down off his plinth and is creeping off to the sea. Now I know he referred to himself as the sea’s ‘true-born son’, but from what I’ve read, he’s more likely to head for a bar first.
Before you head back into the square, you might want to make a slight detour to the very wonderful Magerit wine shop. A great, international collection and a good range of local wines and sherries too. And the owner is friendly and knowledgeable (though I don’t believe her knowledge extends to fluency in English).
Then find Calle Zorrilla, alongside Taberna del Anteojo. This unassuming entrance opens into a short street with a number of good eateries, including the Meson Cumbres Mayores, which has a good range of tapas and a varied clientele that included the lady mayor when I lived there. It leads you back to Plaza de Mina, which you can now leave by its eastern corner and head along Calle Antonio López to Plaza de España . In the centre of this square is the monument to the 1812 Constitución, a huge triumphal pillar, crested with an open book and often used by storks as a nest site.
Along the western side of the square you can see the Casa de Cinco Torres, the House of Five Towers. When the city was being built by rich merchants in the 17th Century, so many of them were building miradores, or lookout towers on their houses that there was a danger of a ‘towers race’ and a blighted skyline. So the city fathers decreed that only one tower could be built for every door to the street. So of course some smartarse built his house with five doors, so he could crown it with as many towers. There’s always one. |Head for the South West corner of the square, by the old Customs House, and cut along Calle Rafael de la Viesca, back to Plaza San Francisco. The bookshop in Plaza Santisimo Cristo de la Veracruz has a selection of books in languages other than Spanish. Leaving the squares by the first corner, takes you down the long Calle San Francisco back towards your starting point on Calle Nueva.
If you fancy a detour to the docks, cut down Calle Corneta Soto Guerrero to the wee park with a fountain surrounded by stone turtles, and a tourist information centre, but the traffic can be heavy, and the sun oppresive, so you might prefer to carry on down San Francisco and look at the shops.