And there they were everywhere the dreaded sea urchin in the busy carnival streets of Cadiz. Not at all where I was expecting to see these delicacies and certainly not on the street corners alongside the candy floss and bucket loads of sweets that seem to accompany this amazing annual carnival. This was a ‘not to be missed’ carnival we were told by some, but from our lovely campsite host Eva in Vejer it was a don’t go as we wouldn’t understand any of it- both recommendations were correct. It was great and truly wonderful to see and experience but did we understand it No, but then if we never went or did anything we didn’t understand then where would we go. Motor homing is a first for us and we are only just beginning to get to grips with it, but we’re here. We don’t for the best part understand a thing here in Spain that’s being said but we get by, so sometimes the not understanding is the only way to go!
Sat 9/2/16: Back at the top of Vejer again- we’ve missed that hill climb. I would like to say we got up to the top quicker and our recovery rate had improved but I can’t, it still was a killer and even though the day wasn’t glorious by the time we got to the top layers of clothes had been abandoned. We meet our friends from language school for lunch and they took us to their local bar which was amazing, so trendy in style and ‘cool’ but the food was brilliant and still cheap. For us we still haven’t quite got over the fact that in general restaurants/bars whichever despite their looks or design here are for the best part the same in price. So for a tapa or main course whether you have lovely steel chairs and daubs of various shades of purple on the wall, or rickety wooden chairs with plastic plants the food is more or
less priced the same and served with the same degree of pride in that food. A truly amazing never happened before event happened on this lunch time- David chose egg over meat. He went for tortilla (omelette) and for me I had the mini burger made from the local red cow. I have to say as much as I am an egg fan I do think my little burger was the best choice and along with a little dollop of David’s garlic sauce on it I was more than happy. There was one difference in this bar and that was in the pudding, no arroz con leche here but chocolate pud and a selection of small finger desserts, so we treated ourselves to both of these and a glass of the wonderful sweetie of sherries- Pedro Ximenez .
Sun 10/2/16: Off to carnival and on the bus we went along with the other carnival goers all Spanish and for the best part all in costume or fancy dress as we might say. As we got nearer to the main old town we saw more and more people in a weird and wonderful variety of outfits, including a family of all generations dressed as the cavemen and women. Some costumes didn’t seem relevant at all, but then at this stage we didn’t know what was relevant, a slight worry came upon us that we might actually be the odd ones for being in our staid normal clothes, but then again we could pretend to come as English people, that should do it!! Tapas again, and for the lunch the old favourite prawns pil pil stood out, very garlicy and oddly quite spicy (for here) with lovely small crusty bread rolls to dip in the sauce. On the subject of carnivals another thing to be learnt here in the UK- let the food and drink be served everywhere and thus keep the prices down and competitive. Here there was food and drink in abundance but none of it was overpriced and each and every food/shop owner was doing a nice trade. A sandwich/tapa €1.50 to €2 and the same for a beer or glass of sherry. Why in the UK do they stop food and drink being taken into concerts/festivals etc and then when they have you trapped inside they charge the earth for food and drink and it’s usually rubbish.
Mon 11/2/16: A more local and less frenetic day then the Sunday, but a huge parade of the floats and singers starting from one of the squares. We were advised by a local who we meet that there is no organisation to the carnival and the floats singers etc just go/come/start as they please and this seemed more then evidence on the Monday and with the parade, which didn’t seem to parade much at all, but move inches in hours whilst they just all
sung and everyone jumped up on the floats etc. It was here that the sea urchins were found, alongside oysters and other sea food but mainly sea urchins and oysters side by side. The locals were lapping them up and it was great to see the vendors cracking open these little creatures. Some were discarded and as far as I could make out it was because they didn’t have enough ‘red meat’ in them, sort of like a tangerine in segments almost. Again when I did think we might see them it was going to be in a restaurant not on the street and again for a wonderful price, not for the princely sum of €4 for about 6 or 7 halves which seemed to be the going price. We moved on from the very slow parade as my organisational abilities were beginning to overcome the speed of the parade and we sat down and choose what I didn’t expect in the south here and that was the blue cheese from the Picos mountains. Again I was not expecting this here, but being a cheese girl and as ever worried in case I never get to find it in the Picos mountains we ordered a small plate of it and I’m not sure how it might compare when we do taste it in the north but it was absolutely divine here, so much so that another plate had to be had!!
Tues 12/2/16: Carnival slowing in action during the day and shops open again, so a new pair of gafas del sol on board (we really don’t get frugal at the moment) we opted for the city bus tour, a great over view of any city, unless you are a certain friend that shall remain nameless who has a very low boredom threshold. Having tapa’d out we decided we wanted a plate of food and went for a lunch option. This one was from our Spanish guidebook (El Aljibe) and it did not disappoint and I think for the high light for both of us was the potato and chorizo soup that David had for starter, full as the name might suggest of potatoes and chorizo, wonderful potatoes taking on the flavour and oil of the chorizo, lovely texture and full depth of flavour, To be honest for me I could have had just that.
And so as the song goes, So the carnival is over……………
Did we try the sea urchins, of course not we want to pay full price for them in a wonderfully sterile restaurant where we know (!!) we won’t get food poisoning and we can pay 3 times the price……