After the previous night’s sushi and tapas I started the following day with plans to take things easy. The combination of an old injury, hours of walking each day, cobblestone streets and nights full of dancing had done a number on my knee and I needed to rest it. Still, I was eager to stock up on food and had heard that with Christmas coming the following day all of the markets were closing at 3PM and would remain closed through the following day.
After a slow start to the morning I set out into the warren of old winding streets that zig-zagged across the peninsula crowned by Cadiz . Map in hand, I slowly made my way down beautiful cobblestone streets, pausing from time to time at small intersections just large enough to fit a single pedestrian and car through at once. One might think that with tiny winding streets barely large enough for a compact car, and buildings hundreds of years old, that European cities would be dirty. While some are, most are incredibly clean. Cadiz is no exception. Its carefully laid streets are washed on a regular – perhaps even daily – basis leaving clean walking paths devoid of most litter and unmarred by so much as a single weed.
I struggled to internalize the scale of the map as I plotted out my route to the large outdoor market. I eventually bumped into the ocean. The day was gorgeous with calm waves gently caressing the large square cement breakwater. As I traced my way along the ocean I enjoyed the fresh sea scent and gentle crispness to the air. Before long I found the side street I needed and made my way down a wide, albeit random, set of stairs which dumped in to a small alleyway being used as a parking area for several compacts. As is somewhat common in the back streets and side alleys in Europe, the whole area smelled of urine. Eager to avoid stopping and smelling the roses I quickly made my way back into the internal mix of streets and before long found Cadiz’s old outdoor market.
The original building which looked to be quite old was being renovated. In what I assume was originally a square in front of it, an expansive portable tent had been set up. As I rounded the side of the old market and prepared to enter the temporary tent, I passed by the following street vendor with a small table set up loaded with a healthy mound of raw sea urchins. The fisherman had halved urchins sitting out on his table in the same way super markets often display their melons. In retrospect I probably should have stopped and sampled one of the urchins, but I’ve never been a huge fan of the texture or taste and as such decided to skip the snack.
The tent was chock full of hundreds of small vendor’s stands offering everything from fresh crab to exotic olives. I’ve always loved the ocean and the bounty of creatures that come from it. I guess it’s no surprise then that I also love fish markets and seafood.
One of my favorite things about European markets is the quantity of fresh food displayed. From beautiful fresh salmon to fish roe, the seafood section of the market was packed with stalls. If I had to guess I’d say that there were easily 30 stalls with seafood alone. Located on the coast, Cadiz has fantastic fresh seafood at incredibly reasonable prices. I candidly filmed the following clip from my hip as I walked through the crowded isle. I apologize for the quality of the video but hope it conveys part of the experience (make sure to select “watch in High Quality”):
Eventually after taking in the sights for a few minutes and checking out the various vendors prices, I remembered that I was there to pick up food for several meals. Before long I’d purchased 1kg of large tiger shrimp for 8 Euro and another kilo of smaller shrimp for 4 Euro. With bags in hand I wound through the stalls to the next row over which had a mixture of meat, vegetables and fish.
After a few more minutes I’d picked up a kilo of delicious, sweet, mandarin oranges for 2 Euro, a clove of garlic, lemons and a bag of potatoes. With my arms and bag loaded down I began my trip home, pausing at a small super market to pick up a 6 pack of beer and a bottle of wine.
Despite slightly overshooting my hostel I easily found my way back. Once back I separated my goods into bags, labeled them and then either put them in the hostel fridge or one of the small dry goods bins they had available. After getting everything put away I set to making a delicious shrimp and pasta meal for a late lunch which I shared with several of the other guys who were relaxing in the hostel common area.
Stuffed after several bowls of pasta I cleaned up and made my way to my room for a refreshing shower, pleasant nap and a bit of reading (Dad’s The Spirits in the Ruins).
More to come soon – Stay tuned!