Day 82 – Cadiz, Spain

During the night we passed through the straits of Gibraltar and in the morning were docked at the port of Cadiz.

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On our previous visit here, we stayed in town and explored the “old town” of Cadiz. On this visit we decided to take advantage of one of the ship’s tours, a trip to the Royal Andalusian Horse School and to a Winery.

On the way out of Cadiz we passed several expansive beaches – empty at the moment, but according to our guide, they will be packed in about a month, as this is one of the most popular Spanish holiday destinations.

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As we left Cadiz, we spotted the new bridge being built to connect the Cadiz peninsula to the mainland. The gaps in the span are quite instructive as to how these types of bridges are built.

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On the mainland, near the coast, we passed an active sea salt mine.

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As we moved further inland, it became obvious that this part of Spain is quite fertile, with all sorts of crops under cultivation in addition to a great many vineyards.

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Our destination for this trip is the town of Jerez (pronounced Sher – ez) which indicates the origin of the name of the fortified wine produced here – Sherry! The early vintners in this area were all English, and they anglicized the name Jerez, to “Sherry” for marketing purposes.

We passed through the many vineyards and into the city which, surprise, surprise, was full of wineries. We stopped at the Williams & Humbert Winery which produces Sherry.

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Inside the doors of this wine storage area were 25,000 barrels of Sherry.

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The guide at the winery showed how some of the wine is moved from the top barrels (the newer ones) down to the lower ones, thus blending the ages, and maintaining a consistent quality.

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We were able to enjoy a tasting of the three products produced here – dry, semi-sweet, and sweet.

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Too early in the day for wine!

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We tottered on to the bus to head to the horse show.

The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts is a world famous horse training and exhibition facility. It was started about 20 years ago by Spain’s foremost competitive dressage rider in a former castle in the center of Jerez.

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Here is one of the riders working with a horse in the practice arena.

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The arena – no pictures allowed on the inside.

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As soon as we entered and found our seats I snuck a shot or two of the interior with my phone.

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The arena was completely full for the 90 minute performance, and while flashes were going off before it started, everyone seemed to honor the “no photo” rule during the show.

I have never seen dressage, so I didn’t know what to expect, and in fact I am not sure if this was dressage or some special version. The horse and rider groups performed to music and it seemed as if the horses were actually dancing to the music. They maintain an unusual posture, with their heads pulled back to their chests, which looks to be uncomfortable for the horse, and I will bet is very difficult to teach. As you watched, one became aware of the intricate gaits, which were varied with the music and involved changes to which hooves were off the ground in conjunction with other hooves – extremely interesting. They performed individually, in group formations, and even occasionally without a rider as they moved through their various routines. You could tell some horses were better and seemed to like what they were doing, while others, it was something they were taught.

Something brand new to me, and quite interesting.

Following the show, we grouped up and trekked to our bus for the trip back to Cadiz, arriving in midafternoon for a relaxing afternoon on board.

We did notice a very large Royal Caribbean ship that appears to be in dry dock – there were containers on the decks and cranes all over the ship. Cadiz must have a major refitting facility here.

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And now on to Madeira.