We awakened to a rain squall which finished just before sunrise at 7:43AM. The sea was calm with almost no swell. Last night, however, there were gentle swells of 1.5 meters (4 feet). We were making 3 knots under sail and the wind at noon was from NNW off the port beam. The temperature was in the low 60’s with grey skies. At 10AM, our Historian, Tom Heffernan, gave an informative talk on the rich and varied history of the Mediterranean.
Our pilot from Cádiz was onboard at 2PM and we were berthed just steps from the historic center of the city by 3PM. We docked in the port of Cadiz at 2:25PM and immediately to our bow was the Sea Cloud II and off the stern starboard side was the latest edition to the Sea Cloud fleet, the Sea Cloud Spirit. This is the first time the three ships have shared a berth – it was rather like a mother and her children.
A wonderful buffet lunch was served on the Lido Deck. A number of us took advantage of leaving the ship and strolling in Cádiz. The temperature was in the high 60’s with an azure sky. Our National Geographic photographer, Massimo Bassano, and Certified Photo Instructor, Myriam Casper, led a photographic walk-through section of old Cádiz (Casco Antiguo). This is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe with a history extending back three millennia.
Another group took advantage of the lovely afternoon and took a stroll through the winding small alleys of Cadiz. The city is very charming. Virtually every apartment has a wrought iron balcony, some of which are highly decorative. The calles are quite narrow, sometimes not exceeding 10 feet.
The center of the old city is dominated by the massive baroque Cathedral of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In one of the small side altars was a massive (8’x5’) sterling silver repoussé carried in liturgical processions. Admission to the Cathedral also allowed one to climb to the bell tower and several guests climbed to the top of the cathedral bell tower and had fabulous views of the city. It was not a climb for the faint-hearted as when you were about at the end of your game, you had to navigate a narrow (24”) wide circular marble staircase. But the view from the top was grand.
The next stop was the central market which was abustle with shops and eateries of every stripe. The interior roof of the market was supported by a what looked like Roman Doric order columns. There is in fact a Roman period theatre close to the cathedral and the columns in the market might have been genuine spolia. Flamenco guitarists were playing in the sun-drenched plaza – in sum, a perfect introduction to Spain.
Tonight, we were treated to a festive barbecue on the Lido Deck. The main attraction was a large fresh tuna fish – sashimi and fresh grilled tuna! A perfect first day in Spain.