One of the ports on the itinerary for my 11 night Mediterranean cruise on Holland America Line’s Oosterdam was Ceuta, Spain. I have to admit that I never heard of this city so I did spend a bit of time reading about it before we would arrive there. Located on the North Coast of Africa between the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean, this tiny 7 square mile peninsula was captured by the Portugese in 1415 and then given to Spain in 1668. It shares its Western border with Morocco and has been a fortified strategic location since ancient times.
We arrived on a gorgeous and hot sunny day and the tiny city sparkled. I met Antonia (Tony) from the local tourist board who told me she was chosen to help since she’s pretty much the only one that speaks English in her office. She was excited to take part in our filming and had some tasty spots planned out.
But first, we drove up the hillside to Monte Hacho, from where you could see views of Spain as well as Morocco. On a clearer day we could have seen the Straits of Gibraltar too.
We drove back into the old town and had a walk through the Central Market normally filled with stalls and stalls of interesting fish and seafood. But, it was Ramadan and since there are many Muslims in Ceuta, many of the stalls were closed. However, there are the non Muslims who still want their breakfast and we found the Café La Perla swamped with people devouring churros and tostadas. I tried a bit of the churro as well as tostada, a thin grilled bread topped with a tomato paste spread.
Before our next eating destination, Tony wanted me to see one of the symbols of the modern side of Ceuta at the Parque Maritimo del Mediterraneo. This is a place with gardens, palm trees, swimming pools and is an oasis for people to come to relax. I was so tempted to dive in to the incredibly inviting looking swimming pool but, oh well, no time and no bathing suit either.
From there, it was tapas time and Tony brought me to a very modern and exciting gastro bar called El Albedrio. Here, the different tapas are laid out on display so you could easily point and choose. Tony and I shared a few specialties as well as a glass of local white wine. We walked down the street and to Taberna La Trastienda, a much more traditional establishment with an outside seating area along with the small bar inside. The place was packed and they made room at the bar for us to try one of their recommended fish specialties. As it was time to leave, the owner came by and I was able to thank him for his hospitality.
As we drove back to the ship passing the many interesting buildings and monuments of the old town mixed with the beautiful beaches and parks of the more modern side of the city I couldn’t help but wonder why this is not more of a tourist destination.
Cheers and all the best,