Continuing my countdown having already covered numbers ten to twelve (Palma, Denia & Malaga).
Number Nine – Cadiz
Ever since I saw a picture of Cadiz’s golden domed cathedral in a magazine, I wanted to go and visit. I was not to be disappointed.
The clamber to the top of the aforementioned dome and the spectacular view of the city surrounded by the sparkling blue sea was indeed a highlight.
So too however was the authentically sweaty & earthy flamenco viewed in a dingy club situated on one of the narrow streets of the ancient barrio, an area that appeared to have stood still since the times of press gangs & pirates.
Cadiz is also home to some very fine sandy beaches and an unfussy retail centre with very acceptable bars and restaurants.
Add to that the fact that Cadiz is the perfect city base to explore the sherry bodegas (distilleries) of Jerez & Santa Maria, as well as the picture perfect Pueblos Blancos (white villages) and you won’t be wanting for something to do if you choose one of Europe’s southern most cities for a short break.
Number Eight – Toledo
The former capital of Spain is a European mediaeval delight. The walled birthplace of El Greco is stuffed full of ancient monuments, including an absolutely stunning Gothic cathedral.
Surrounded by the River Tagus, Toledo enjoys a spectacular position with great views from just about every point. Scramble amongst the many man-made fortifications and imagine yourself with bow in hand, defending the ancient city from invaders.
It is only about one hour by train from Madrid and a perfect antidote to the non-stop party of Spain’s modern capital.
Number Seven – Madrid
The fact that the modern day capital is relatively low on the list says more about how lucky Spain is to have so many great cities than it being in any way sub-standard.
Madrid is a party town that is said to stay open twenty-four hours a day and to have more entertainment establishments per head of capita than any other city. We did not test out either fact, but suffice to say we were not short of brilliant places to eat, drink or listen to music in.
I have visited four times and apart from going to watch the mighty Real Madrid play Monaco in the Champions League, the most memorable trip was when Mrs Wilbur and I ventured there at Easter time.
We were treated to some amazing parades, featuring hooded worshippers bound in chains carrying the epitaph of Jesus and a depiction of the Virgin Mary through the streets to the imposing main cathedral.
Saturday night was party time after the Messiah had risen, fireworks everywhere and plenty of festive eating and drinking.
Other highlights included the majestic Royal Palace with its richly decorated interiors and exquisite furnishings plus the city’s gargantuan squares, topped by the architectural jewel that is Plaza Mayor. For the first and only time, we even had our caricature portraits done there, now gathering dust inside a cardboard tube in our loft somewhere!