Carnival in Cadiz

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Cadiz is a port city located on the south western tip of Spain in the Province of Andalusia.  Also in Andalusia are the towns of Seville, Granada and Cordoba..  It is the longest longest inhabited city in Western Europe at about 3,000 years old.  It was initially founded by the Phoenicians and has culturally changed hands over the centuries, with each culture leaving their own unique footprint.

 

In Cadiz, I stayed with a friend of my best friends girlfriend, or so I had thought.  They had actually only met once before in the city.   Her name was Kelsey and she is from Massachusets and happened to go to Delaware.  She was awesome. She was extremely friendly and very welcoming.  I felt like friends from the start.  It helps that we are both teaching English in Spain, it gives something to talk about.  She has a Spanish boyfriend who was just and friendly, but slightly harder to understand.

Carnival in Cadiz

Cadiz2 - Copy

I arrived in Cadiz at about 3:30 pm (left my house at 6:55 am) after three separate journeys of an hour 45; one bus and two by train.  One of the trains was a high speed train, which was awesome! It traveled at 160 mph and was an incredibly smooth.  I also got stuck buying a first class ticket since it was the only one available.

Cadiz5Cadiz is rated as the second best place to experience Carnival in Spain, with the first being the Canary Islands.  It did not disappoint.  The city was decked out in Colorful lights and people were in all sorts of costumes.  Friday consisted of seeing some of the city during the day, with a tour provided by Kelsey and then drinking at night.  Friday night was the finale for a competition of chirigotas.  Chirigotas is a group of singers who dress up and sing during Carnival. Their songs are often satirical.  There is a competition held in the theater (pictured left) for the finalists.  It’s common to drink outside of the theater and wait for it to end, to applaud the winner and the other’s that leave.  This is exactly what we did.  In Spain it’s called botellon, or drinking in the street.  The plaza was packed with all kinds of characters, exactly like Halloween in the US. We literally spent the whole night there, drinking and chatting.  We also ran into another girl from Delaware  (Mandy) who is teaching English in Madrid. Obviously she was visiting Cadiz for carnival.

Cadiz6Saturday I spent the whole day in the old town of Cadiz. It was a gorgeous sunny day, probably like 55 or 60.  I was perfectly comfortable in a button down.  I left the apartment at  around 2:30, got lunch and ate it on the beach and then walked to the old town (about 45 min).  I wandered the streets, grabbed a litre and searched for a costume.  I stopped to listen to some chirigotas, got lost among the streets and eventually found a costume.  It was like a swordsman/gentlemans costume, kinda like Zorro.  Originally it was marked for 25 euro, but because of my amazing Spanish, I was able to get it for 11.  I really wanted a onesie, but couldn’t find any.  I wandered and found this park (pictured left) at the end of Cadiz, where I sat and enjoyed the beautiful surroundings.  After some time, I left and was on my way to try to meet Mandy and her friends when I was stopped by some kids to take a picture.  They ended up being with a group of about 80 other people and were drinking on the beach and asked if I wanted to join them.  Two of the kids were the coordinators.  They were Erasmus students studying in Granada.   I joined them on the beach, met a bunch of different people and drank for free, for a couple of hours.  We stayed there until it started raining, which I think happened around 9:30ish.

Cadiz4After the beach, we got separated from the larger crowd.  We went to the plaza in front of the Cathedral where we botelloned with the rest of Cadiz.  Eventually we found the larger group and I also found Kelsey; only to lose her soon after.  There was a free concert held in one of the plazas that we went to. Of course, I got separated from everybody else.  Anyhow, I made new friends and danced with others all while enjoying the beats being thrown by the dj. After the concert, I once again found myself alone, but miraculously ran into Mandy and her friends and followed them back to their Airbnb apartment.  Spent some time there, then left to try to find Kelsey. I was unable to locate her and ended up walking home, with soaked shoes, socks and feet, but with great memories of the day/night.

Sunday was a lot of doing nothing, other than the Carnival parade.  The parade was pretty cool to witness. A bunch of floats, people dancing, people in costumes and a lot of wind.  It started off with what seemed to be a progression of music per decade.  At one point, they had a float that consisted of jazz, blues and soul music decorations and it was labeled as black music.  If that wasn’t racist enough, there were two huge black mannequins on it.  Other than Kelsey,her friend and I, nobody seemed shocked.  There was a well decorated float dedicated to Michael Jackson with a look-a-like Michael leading a dance.  There was also a float dedicated to the Beatles, with one of them looking exactly like a young John Lennon. Exactly, no joke.  The parade was a fun experience albeit exhausting.  Overall Cadiz was an amazing city and extremely beautiful.  I was lucky enough for Kelsey to let me stay with her (I don’t think there are any hostels in the city and they would have been extremely expensive) otherwise I probably would not have been able to go.  I would like to live there next year and did apply,but it depends if there’s placement and if they put me there.  Fingers crossed.

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