Cadiz was the gateway to America, and the Straits of Gibraltar, was the crossroads and anchorage for Mediterranean trade. But the roads of Andalusia were few, dangerous and, at times, impassable.
Thanks to the steamships, travellers could avoid the tortuous roads and also come into contact with a world both curious and picturesque. Cadiz thus became the axis of two different destinations: Malaga and Seville. In Malaga, having been bid farewell by the small English colony, the traveller would leave behind the scent of the oleanders, the almonds and the honeysuckle.
From the ship, he would see the coastline fade away; a rosary of historic, sonorous names would unfold before them: Marbella, Punta de Calaburra, Estepona; then the province of Cadiz and Europa Point at the southernmost tip of Gibraltar; the island of Las Palomas; the Punta del Acebuche and the mouth of the Guadalmecí; the hallows of Las Cabezas, dreaded rendez- vous for shipwrecks; the historic city of Tarifa, separated from Punta de las Palomas by the most beautiful beach in the south of Spain, cape Plata, Punta Camurinal, the bay of Zahara and Barbate, tunny fishing- grounds that belonged to the Duchy of Medina Sidonia; Trafalgar, a hard recollection for Spain. Conil, Pulpera, Sancti Petri and, surrounded by water and marshes, Cadiz. In the city, a large foreign colony awaited the traveller; gypsies, parties, theatre, dances and promenades would entertain him during his sojourn.
Ford, Borrow, Gautier, Mérimée all went through Cadiz and few of them stopped there. Upriver on the turbid waters of the Guadalquivir, the great attraction was awaiting: Seville. The steamers "Real Fernando", "Victoria" and "Neptuno" would search unhurriedly for the marshes, by the bulls and the waders of the Marismas.