To Mérida - The Seven Year Itch - CycleBlaze

April 16, 2024

To Mérida

Janos isn’t riding with us today of course since his horse is lame for the moment, so it’s just the three of us biking together to Mérida.  It’s too bad he couldn’t though, because it’s a ride he’d likely have enjoyed. Not too long, not too hilly, not too warm, not too busy, just right.

Leaving Santa Marta. Janos will spend the morning trying to get his bike repaired, and we’ll meet up later.
Heart 4 Comment 0
In Santa Marta.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Looking back, I’m surprised that Santa Marta looks more appealing than what I saw from our functional hotel. I should have summoned the energy to walk around and check it out last night.
Heart 4 Comment 0
It trends downwards, but there are a few risers in the way between here and Mérida.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Not as many brilliant floral displays today, but the green lines have their own mesmerizing beauty.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Into the matrix.
Heart 6 Comment 0
A last look back at Santa Marta from the high point of the day.
Heart 5 Comment 1
Keith AdamsBiker babes!
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Wreck of the day.
Heart 6 Comment 0
As I was just saying, the day had its ups and downs. Here’s one of them.
Heart 7 Comment 0
The view to the east.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Our quiet route takes us through a few villages. This one ahead is Solana de los Barros.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Dropping to Solana, a streamside village tucked into a low fold in the hills.
Heart 4 Comment 0
It’s a three bridge day. Here’s the first, crossing the Guadajira.
Heart 7 Comment 0
Some western house-martins beneath the bridge. It’s nice to see them stand relatively still for a few seconds. They must have found something good down there, because they keep flying off, making a few loops through the sky, and returning.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The second bridge of the day, entering the second village of the day: Arroyo de San Serván. According to the one reference I could find the bridge is medieval, built in the 15th century.
Heart 5 Comment 0
Another one!
Heart 3 Comment 0
Another one!
Heart 4 Comment 0
We have a winner!
Heart 8 Comment 0

Our peaceful ride comes to an abrupt transition when we approach Mérida, a significant place.  It’s not the largest city around - that would be sprawling Badajoz, with three times the population - but with its rich history and collection of Roman ruins it’s an important tourism draw.  It’s harder to get into than I’d expected though.  I had been mentally congratulating myself on how well I’d picked today’s route but it’s no fun trying to find our way up to the famous bridge that we’ll bike across the river on to enter the city.  For too long we’re riding/gliding on a wide sidewalk with a slick, grooved checkerboard surface that leaves us anxious that one of us will take a spill.

For me anyway Mérida’s bridge is its essential feature, a sight worth a long journey to see.  With its 60 remaining arches of the original 62 when the Romans built it almost two thousand years ago during the reign of Trajan, it is the longest surviving bridge from the ancient world.  It is stunning to see and to contemplate, and it’s a disappointment that I didn’t stop for a photograph of Rachael and Suzanne crossing it - but we’ll get a good look when I return tomorrow for some bird watching on our layover day.

Once across the river we follow the route I mapped out to our hotel, which looked good on paper but is not so hot in real life because for much of the thankfully short distance the street is torn up for a major construction or resurfacing project.

Finding the wrong way into the city.
Heart 4 Comment 0

Video sound track: In Your Own Sweet Way, by Dave Brubeck

We’re pleased to arrive at our hotel but perplexed about how to enter it when we come to its door.  It’s locked, but there’s no buzzer and no number to call.  Coincidentally a couple leaves the hotel while I’m puzzling out the situation, so I go inside and look around.  Nothing looks like a reception area though, so I go outside again and decide to round the corner to the other side of the hotel.  When I do I see Susan(!) briskly walking up the sidewalk toward me, with another woman.  She’s only just arriving herself after biking in from Miajades - and the woman is the receptionist, wanting to see who just showed up on their security camera at what I now see is the back entrance to the hotel.

So hail, hail, the gang’s all here - together for the first time since two years ago in Burgundy.  And at least some of the gang is starving, so it’s not long until we’re all seated at the nearby restaurant Rachael spotted a block back on the way in.  While we’re gathered, Suzanne and Janos update us on the bike situation.  It’s good, or at least promising news.  Janos got the bike to a shop that should be able to repair it - if they can get a replacement for the broken part.  They don’t have it in stock though, but hopefully will have it tomorrow.  Hope for the best.

And don’t ask me what the broken part is, because I don’t know and probably wouldn’t understand if I did know anyway.  Janos tries to explain it to Suzanne in German who tries to translate it for us, but they soon give up.  It’s too complicated.

Heart 7 Comment 0

After lunch Susan comes up to our room with us to talk over the plan for England, where we’ll be meeting up with her again in two months for a tour of Yorkshire.  And then we all just hang out and wait for the day to cool down.  After that we walk with Susan to see another of Mérida‘s marvels, the aquaduct.

Except we end up seeing two aquaducts, in a city with three.  Really, if we’ve known we were coming to this place for over half a year you’d think I’d have known there were three aquaducts already, but I like to be surprised and don’t tend to read up on what I’ll be seeing most of the time.

The viaducts, the two that we see this evening anyway, are both marvels - especially the fragmented remains of the Proserpina.  It’s an excellent walk, and at about three miles just the right length for my knees to manage.  The aqueducts are great, especially seen in the early evening light; but it’s an even greater delight with the storks flying in and posing on top of the Proserpina.  And there’s a new bird too, which is always appreciated. 

This is the 16th century San Lazaro aquaduct bridge, built upon the foundation of the Roman Los Tomas aquaduct.
Heart 8 Comment 0
Worth a peek through to the other side.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Impressive! It looks like her knees are starting to buckle though.
Heart 5 Comment 2
Keith AdamsAtlas never looked so good...
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Keith AdamsAgreed. I’ll have to pass that on to her.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
#206: Common sandpiper. I was sure this was a spotted sandpiper from its look and behavior, but was surprised they’re found in Europe. It’s not, but they’re very close cousins. The two are the only species in the Arctitis genus.
Heart 4 Comment 0
There’s a nice ribbon park along the Albarregas River connecting the two aqueducts.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The Proserpina aquaduct brought water to the Roman city from the Proserpina dam six miles away.
Heart 8 Comment 0
A great time of day to be out.
Heart 6 Comment 0
This section across the Albarregas is known as Los Milagros (the miracles) because of its fantastic appearance. It’s also a miracle that so much is still standing after nearly two thousand years.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Los Milagros looks miraculous enough even without nesting storks crowning it.
Heart 6 Comment 0
The Proserpina aquaduct and the Albarregas River.
Heart 8 Comment 0
The Albarregas River, just before it empties into rhe Guadiana.
Heart 5 Comment 0
OK. I think we can afford two stork shots today.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Heart 0 Comment 0

Today's ride: 32 miles (51 km)
Total: 937 miles (1,508 km)

Rate this entry's writing Heart 13
Comment on this entry Comment 1
Janice BranhamSpectacular shots. The late afternoon light is ideal for your pics.
Reply to this comment
1 month ago