The city of CADIZ, or… “La Tacita de Plata”- The little Silver Bowl, as they call it, described here by the insider and the outsider.


The first time I arrived to Cadiz was by land in the year 1998 to attend the famous carnival. I left my job that Friday afternoon and picked up some friends on my way out of town. It took us almost eight hours to get here. That gave us enough time to sew our costumes, which we would not take off for the rest of that looong weekend.

Most people say that first impressions last forever, and this one certainly has…

Some years later I came back to visit a friend who lived in Conil, a village on the Atlantic shore. Since then it’s been eleven years in Cadiz. I wasn’t exactly searching for this place; rather I was running away from the big city that was no longer pleasant for me. But Cadiz is not a place that you normally arrive in by accident; you really have to look for it because of its geographical situation.

Delighted at first with the wilderness that surrounds this marvelous piece of land I later re-discovered the laughter and joyfulness of its inhabitants, that I had enjoyed that crazy weekend spent here years before. At first I suffered from a form of stress opposite to what is commonly experienced in big cities. I had arrived over-accelerated and was suffering from being too fast in comparison to the local Gaditanos. 

“Prisa mata, amigo” – rush kills you, my friend. I first heard this phrase during a visit to Morocco. I realized after a couple of years that it perfectly describes the philosophy of the Cadiz people. When we describe the best and the worst things here, we say that this is not southern Europe but North Africa.

“Carpe diem” also describes precisely the collective identity of this population, and somehow it seems that the sun and its light allows for this spontaneous enjoyment of life, for most of the year.


Cadiz, cadi, cai, ai…. All that’s left  is the vocals! The (local) Gaditanians gobble up the consonants, so my efforts to learn ’proper’ Spanish are stunted by confusion. But that’s forgiven because people here are so friendly and open to new people that I communicate just fine anyway.

I recall sailing the Mediterranean from Malaga years ago, stopping in touristy Esteponia and Gibraltar. What a relief to sail past Tarifa and Barbate, finally getting to the Cadiz marina, heading for the narrow streets and grabbing some mouth watering tapas and a Fino at Cumbres Mayores. Yum!

Cadiz is an authentic Spanish city. There’s an amazingly strong presence of history. I look out of my window and see the distinctive rooftop of Oratorio de San Felipe where the Spanish Constitution was born. I see the moorish influences in architecture and the colonial style buildings that came after Columbus. But I also love contemporary Cadiz – defined by its people with the most impressive deadpan humour, with a liberal live-and-let-live attitude. It’s traditional, yet gay friendly. With equal vigour it’s religious and anti-establishment; the carnival is a satirical feast more than a feast of the flesh. Children are free to play in the plazas and old ladies are dressed up, out and about, even flirting with the waiters. It’s appropriate that the city has two opposing winds, the hot Sahara Levante and the cooling Poniente.

The glittering light and stunning views first drew me to  this place, and I still love the sunsets against the washing lines, aerials and Torre Miradores scattered on rooftops like mushrooms. I love hearing snippets of authentic flamenco and marching music in the distance. I haven’t even mentioned the sunshine and beaches; being able to take a swim in the ocean, less than a 10 minute walk away from anywhere in town. For me, that is the definition of heaven!



Copyright © Luzia 2013