As students were still recovering from the searing heat of a visit to Jerez de la Frontera, this Monday took a much more relaxed pace as we gave the students time to rest and recover in Cádiz. Students appreciated the opportunity to grab a bite to eat and do a spot of shopping in the old town so as to let off some steam before Tuesday's escapades...
This Tuesday night everyone got cooking as we learned how to make Spain's national dish paella in the local Foodie Cádiz cooking school. Led by a team of professional Spanish chefs, the students were thrown in at the deep end as they were taught the fundamentals of kitchen safety and maintenance in the Spanish language, before building up real-life skills for working in professional kitchens, from the correct way to handle a knife to how to always choose the right equipment for the task at hand. They were even put through their paces with a quiz on Spanish ingredients, and the students left the chefs more than a little impressed with their knowledge of staples of the local cuisine, from artichokes and jamón serrano to the local favourite Pedro Ximénez wine!
After everyone got their hands washed and aprons on, it was time to cook! All of the students were given their own station tasked with a particular job, from grating tomatoes for pan con tomate y jamón to chopping vegetables, or even helping to prepare a pitcher of sangría! As the dish came together, our students took it in turns to stand around the paellera, the typical pan in which paella is cooked, and were responsible for everything that went on in the pan, from sweating the vegetable base to browning the meat (as well as looking after the smaller pan where we were making our vegetarian alternative!). Though many of our group had not cooked before, it was plain to see how much progress they had made in just two short hours, as many of them proved to be rather a dab hand in the kitchen!
And of course by the end we all got to taste fruit of our labour as we sat around the kitchen table and eat a hearty plate of paella washed down with a refreshing glass of non-alcoholic sangría. And there was even room for a bowl of ice cream at the end...
Wednesday gave us the opportunity to visit Cádiz's magnificent cathedral, built in a mix of baroque and neoclassical styles. The cathedral is a living emblem of Spain's bust and boom, as the marble foundation yields to an upper section built of much cheaper stone, as a direct result of Spain's shifting place in world affairs thanks to the loss of its colonies. It was particularly fascinating to see the nets hung across the ceiling in order to catch pieces of the brittle stone as it falls away, especially as it contrasted against the splendid style of the rest of the building.
There was also time to head downstairs into the crypt and pay our respects to Manuel de Falla, Spain's most famous composer who was born on the Plaza de Mina in Cádiz and who is buried beneath the Cathedral. We also had the opportunity to visit the reliquaries to view just a small handful of the countless treasures held there.
And after that, we got climbing. The group braved the warm Cádiz climate and made their way up to the top of one of the Cathedral bell towers. It was more than worth the ascent as the tower gave us a simply spectacular view of the city, from its old and new town to its Atlantic coast. We also had plenty of time for selfies and to take yet more stunning panoramas of this beautiful coastal city. We were even taken by surprise by the bells chiming the hour right above our heads...
And what else would we do of an evening in Cádiz other than head to the beach? To help put an end to another big day we let students let their hair down once again on La Caleta, have a bite to eat while the sun went down and even enjoy a spot of volleyball! Stay tuned for updates on our escape room adventure and another night of Spanish guitar...
Paul Hyland recently graduated with a PhD in Spanish and Latin American literature from the University of Cambridge. He also holds a first class degree in Spanish and German, as well as an MPhil in European Literature from the same institution.