Cadiz Carnaval: February 5-7, 2016
Since it was my official first weekend in Spain (at least that I was not jetlagged), I was determined to travel somewhere exciting. I had several great tour options for the weekend, and had a difficult decision to make. I was choosing between a two-day tour in Granada and a three-day weekend in Cadiz during “carnaval.”
A little bit of background information about these two cities: Both are located in southern Spain. Granada is farther east than Cadiz and all of the native Spaniards proclaim Granada as their favorite place due to its unique intersection of the Christian, Islamic, and Judaic influences. Granada’s architecture and history are one-of-a-kind in all of Spain.
Cadiz is located in the south at the tip of the Atlantic Ocean before it becomes the Mediterranean Sea. The beaches of Cadiz are one of the most popular in the country and its Carnaval is one of the Spain’s top three known for its satirical acts and songs. Carnaval runs for 10 days, spanning over two weekends.
What made the decision more difficult is that I could not make a wrong choice. Spain is beautiful and historic in whatever direction I selected. Granada is great and has been there for many, many years and is not going anywhere anytime soon. Cadiz would also be a wonderful experience, and attending Carnaval would be an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Which one do you think I picked?
I got up at 6:30am to finish packing, eat breakfast, and took the metro for an hour to the bus top where the tour group bus would pick us up. As it turns out, it was more like buses. Over 150 students from around the world on three buses pulled out of Madrid and headed for a weekend in Cadiz. It is a fairly long drive from Madrid-around 9 hours at the speed the buses were traveling and after several stops.
I had met several people on the bus ride to Cadiz with neat stories on what turned out to be an 11-hour (instead of 5-hour!) bus ride there. The next morning, one of my roommates and I got up at 8am in order to have a quick breakfast and walk to the beach. We walked for a total of 5 hours up and down the beach until we made it to one end and back to another.
The hotels and hostels look more like small palaces, the water is a thick sea foam greenish-blue, and the sand was extremely soft, with almost a fluffy thick texture. We both decided our new “retirement” involves moving to Spain, buying a house on the beach overlooking the ocean with a hammock, cup of coffee, and a book.
At 4pm, the tour leaders loaded the buses and we all headed to Cadiz Carnaval. It took a little less than an hour to get from our hotel on the outskirts of the province into the center of the city. We were all expecting a huge event like Mardi Gras, with floats and a parade, shows, concerts, and more over the top costumes. We were shocked that it was more like a street party than our definition of a carnival.
We made the most of the night and still got to see several satirical shows, a quick concert, and the huge cathedral. The trip was nothing like I expected, but still an exciting once in a lifetime experience. I can’t wait to make it to the north of Spain as well as the east to see the Mediterranean. Thank goodness I have four full months to get everything on my bucket list checked off.