Monday, August 04, 2014

El Puerto de Santa Maria

Sunday was a lazy day to explore, which is what we did. Following Chris Columbus’s lead, we traveled to El Puerto de Santa Maria, where he launched his 2nd trip to the New World. Unlike Chris, we went by catamaran at a cost of €2.10 each for the 40-minute ride. We sailed across the Bay of Cádiz for a surprisingly long time considering the town is only 6 miles north each of Cádiz.

For the most part, the locals must have had the same sleepy attitude; it was closer to a ghost town than the vibrant tourist spot it is given credit for being. Only those of us leaving the catamaran breathed life into the surrounding areas.

It seemed at first like this was a case of mistaken identity where we had identified this as a place that needed visiting and were wrong. However, after a bit of discovery, we came across a small castle like structure, which was quite admirable. Later the cathedral in the main square was incredibly impressive, albeit it needs major repair. For a hoot and a holler, there were storks nesting on the top in chimneys and other suitable indentations. 

We uncovered the information informing us that Chris Columbus met his pilot, Juan de la Cosa, here. Juan drew the first world map that included the coastline of the New World. Not bad for the year 1500, there is a replica of this map in porcelain tile on a monument.

The streets were for the most part empty of people and traffic. Finding a small café open at the main square, we stopped for a bite. I had chicharrón, one of my favorite foreign foods. Thankfully, my cholesterol report was normal, so I felt safe indulging. These chunks of pork meat with an equal amount of fat were charbroiled and scrumptious. It was here that we tested sherry, as this is purportedly the sherry capital of the world. None of us had great familiarity with sherry before this, but what we sampled was light, refreshing, and worthy of trying. I doubt it will become my drink of choice any time soon.

Wandering into the depths of the town, we encountered a bullring that would compete handily with any coliseum in the world. The tremendous size gave witness to the lust for the sport of bull fighting. Appreciatively, we were between performances, which allowed us to escape the area without manufacturing protest signs declaring cruelty to animals while risking a jail sentence.  

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