So last night, after picking up my bike, I wandered into town. Idea being just find some where and eat then go back and sleep. But as happens when I am tired I couldn't decide where so just kept walking and walking. So in effect I did get to see some sights after all. 40 mins later, I was still walking and I was getting too tired and needed food desperately but still couldn't decide. Until that was, I stumbled onto what must be a rareity in Spain..a vegetarian restaurant! Perhaps out of guilt for the meat I have eaten or as a show of support and solidarity to this brave venture, decision was made. It was quite a funky little place, not Spanish in the least..Elvis and Marilyn on the wall, Michael Jackson hits pumping out the stereo. Awesome looking cakes on the bar too..sized them up for later. There was however some confusion with the food. I was torn between either moussaka and burrito. They however took it that I wanted both. So after chomping down a massive portion of moussaka.. Along came another big plate of food. I could lie and say I said no no no, take it back. But I didn't. I wolfed that down too. When the waiter returned he asked if I wanted cake, as if it was the most normal thing in the world to have two main courses and then a slab of cake to finish it off. I found some sense and willpower and declined, though somewhat reluctantly as they really did look good.
In the morning, having washed pretty much all my clothes the day before..I set out in the few items that were dry. Shorts and shirt. Which sounds fine. Except everyone else was in full 'winter' clothes, not an inch of skin showing. With reason too..while it was sunny and the sky was perfect blue, that cold wind was back and it was COLD. Not having a choice in the clothes department I carried on bravely, feeling like a proper tourist with my legs on show. I thought sod it, if am going to do this am going to do it properly, so I got myself a tourist ticket and a big ole tourist map too and set about seeing the sites... a blatant tourist and proud of it! As it turned out I actually fit right in (except the shorts)..there are huge numbers of tourists here, all with maps at the ready. Interestingly I came across more Spanish tourists than any other and in large groups too..either older people or school kids.
Merida is an interesting city. It has almost a small town feel to the centre, although as a whole it stretches out quite far. All the main sights are quite close together and the shopping street seems to be in the middle of that. I know that there is probably a lot more than I have seen or can see in a day or so, but this is just my impression. It also seems to embrace modern more. Not to say that the others cities didn't or weren't modern, just that here seems more obviously so. It may just be that this is just in contrast to the many many relics about the city. Literally every street or turn and there is a Roman remain or something. But its all very integrated. They don't separate the new and the old. If there is a ruin found where you were going to build something..well put some pillars down and build the new thing on top. So you have both the old and new together. It celebrates its past, as it should as it is it's main attraction, and brings it along with natural development of the city. Perhaps you could take that further and say actually that is what inhabitants have been doing here since the start..the alcalazar was Roman and Visigoth and then taken by the Arabs and reused/rebuild using the same stones, and again with the Christians. All updating it in their own way.
It is quite astonishing how many remains there are. The ampitheatre and theatre especially are quite something. They still use the theatre for plays and events now, it is that complete. The hippodrome is the only one left of its kind in Spain. When I went there, there was a tractor mowing the 'lawn' of the race track. You almost couldn't help wanting it to put its foot down and race around chariot style.
After pounding the streets in the morning, the afternoon was more lazy. A little siesta, then as the clouds were coming over I headed out to sample the local wines. Unfortunately heavy rain meant the I had to try several while waiting for a break in the weather..but needs must you know. Perk also being that a large glass of the local vino only set you back 1 euro, and it tasted pretty good too, and that's with free nibbles with each...not a bad way to spend the afternoon!