Friday, September 11, 2009

All About Cadiz (City Orientation)

The crowd of students at the fifth deck gangway was massive Saturday afternoon. Groups of new friends whispered excitedly to one another as they waited for the MV Explorer crew to swipe their ID cards, so they could disembark the ship. The numbers were impressive; they filled three tour buses, along with staff and a professional guide. The ship had docked in Cadiz just a few hours earlier, and for many of the students in the group, the orientation was their first chance to get out into the city. 
As for the city itself, Cadiz is beautiful. Full of history (it is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe), interesting people and fabulous beaches, the port is an ideal first stop for the voyage. The students that signed up for the city orientation were shown the city’s most memorable sites, including the town’s museum, which included paintings and sculptures by the city’s famous native sons as well as many of the ancient civilizations that once ruled the area. Both the Phoenicians and Romans governed the region before it passed into the hands of the Spaniards.
The orientation included a walking tour, and students had the chance to explore the cathedral that was finished in 1838, after 116 years of construction. Progress on the church was slow due to lack of funds, and the finished cathedral is actually a mix of the baroque and neoclassical styles, a testament to the two periods it’s construction straddles. They also got the chance to see the bustling residential area of the city towards the tour’s end. Many students made purchases in one of the many shops located near San Juan de Dios Square, which is located within walking distance from where the ship was anchored. The most popular purchase of the day? Ice cream!

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