The parade we spent most of yesterday afternoon expecting finally happened. Rather than skirt our apartment it did manage to pass beneath our small balcony. Like Half Term Mary, it featured a massive tableau, this time with a wobbly Jesus and an unnamed angel. When I say massive it barely managed to fit between the walls either side of the lanes.
But it was more than just Jesus and an unnamed angle. It was also a thirty piece brass band with an entire section made up completely of drums. Within the confines of our narrow little plaza, this was very, very noisy. It was also quite eerie the way it kept stopping then starting again.
And the people! The place was wall to wall with them. They were even squashed up between the walls and the tableau. It’s a wonder no one was crushed beyond recognition. Maybe there was. We’d never know.
The whole place lit up with smoke from the huge candles and the air thick with the scent of whatever Catholic churches use in those swaying incense burners they use. And we had front row seats on our balcony. In fact, we didn’t even need to take our pyjamas off which was very handy because it was gone 1am.
Seriously, I defy anyone who is not deaf to have slept through it. Actually I don’t think a profoundly deaf person would have slept through it. It was unbelievably loud. And it continued until gone 2am but it was far enough away by then that one could sleep.
Earlier in the day we had passed a cake type shop called Pastries of Jesus and we wondered whether this parade had been sponsored by them. It was delightfully mad.
Finally, though, we went back to bed filled, as we were, with the love of Jesus and drifted fitfully back to sleep.
Waking up to a new end of daylight saving Sunday we adjusted the time…actually we didn’t because our phones just automatically did it for us. The one thing that was instantly noticeable was the fact that the sun came up earlier. This was a good thing because Mirinda wanted to be woken up at 8am and yesterday it would have still been dark.
We were up early (sort of) because today was about moving. We were leaving Jerez de la Frontera and catching the train to Cadiz. Our train left at 10:45 and we ended up being about 40 minutes early for it. Still, the cafe at Jerez station is possibly one of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen so there’s little to complain about. It sort of goes with the entire front of the station in the beauty stakes.
The train was the same one that we caught from Seville except it kept going to Cadiz which sounds remarkably like Gary whenever the recorded announcer says it. And the conductor who before taking my ticket said “Gary?” nodded to himself and handed my ticket back. I wondered how he knew my name. I then realised he’d said Cadiz.
The train was awfully busy as you can see from this photograph.
And then the moment we’d all been dreading. The moment on every holiday when everything falls into a heap with no hope of retrieval. The moment when all your travel plans wind up shredded on the ground around your world weary feet like so much confetti. The moment you get off the train at the wrong stop.
It’s a little known fact that ‘Estadio’ in Spanish can mean stadium as well as ‘nothing to see here’. I can vouch for it having been there. It is so full of nothing that taxis actually avoid the station.
I have to ask one vital question: Why do Spanish trains announce the final stop one stop before the final stop? This merely leaves the traveller open to confusion. It would be like catching the train from Farnham to Waterloo and just before you arrive at Clapham Junction the public address system announces “This is Clapham Junction one stop before Waterloo the final stop on this train.” Of course, while weird, this would be fine for English speakers but not so easy for Spaniards. Well, announcing the final stop immediately after announcing Estadio had the effect of making us get off the train.
I hold my hand up. I am entirely to blame. Not for the fact that Estadio is a featureless, God forsaken hole, mind you. That it does quite easily on it’s own.
The person (apart from me) that deserves a little bit of blame would be the conductor. The man who, standing nonchalantly and secure in his little back of the train compartment, told us we were at the wrong stop just as the doors were closing and the train was departing the station.
And so we waited for the next train after trying to get a taxi – the only one we saw smiled helpfully and gestured that we should ring him instead of waving vigorously in the time honoured tradition.
Half an hour later a suburban train arrived and took us five minutes further down the track to Cadiz. It was ridiculously close.
We then managed to get a taxi for the trip to the Paradore.
We have stayed in three other Paradores and this one is just as amazing. The views, looking out to the sea are as gorgeous as they are extensive. We had a room on the sixth floor (Denise is on the fifth) with folding doors leading out to a terrace. The bed is arranged so you are permanently looking out. It is splendid and more than makes up for the impromptu visit to Estadio.
After dumping our bags and having a rather pleasant cup of tea/coffee on our balcony, we three headed into town to find somewhere to eat. We wound up at a little place called Meson Criolle.
It’s in a small street that heaves with eateries though when we first turned up there were few people outside in the cold wind, the tables soon filled up with brave, hungry souls.
A brief interlude: We discovered after lunch that this street was saved from flooding by the grace of Mary, riding to the rescue on a cloud of snakes. This was in 1755 when most of Lisbon was wiped out instead of Cadiz where ‘only’ 40 people died. Every since, on November 1, Mary is paraded around the town in thanks. Sadly we won’t be here for it which is a shame given Half Term Mary and Pastry Jesus have been witnessed on the trip so far. A Snake Cloud Mary would have completed some strange sort of set.
But back to lunch…
I managed to get my mouth around some grilled sardines which both Mirinda and Denise turned their noses up at to such a degree I’m surprised they could still smell anything afterwards. The sardines, by the way, were delicious. As was the paella I had as a main.
Possibly the most exhilarating part of the holiday happened then. Mirinda took us out on the breakwater to the Castle of St Sebastien. The wind was blowing, the sea was choppy, waves crashed all over everything. It was an amazing mix of weather.
The weather was so exhilarating, in fact, that none of us wanted dinner tonight. Denise and I went down to the bar for a couple of drinks while Mirinda watched The Blue Train with Hercule Poirot. I was rather surprised he didn’t stay in his own room.
And so, an early night for all of us, lulled to sleep by the constant flashing of the lighthouse directly outside our windows.