Dr. Hoffer's Travel Site This site was last updated 08/04/10
IBERIA2001 #47 Merida, a Piece of Roma
We got the car out of the garage and at 7:15 we headed out for the 137 mile drive southwest to the town of Trujillo (remember the dictator of Santo Domingo). I took a siesta while Marcia drove because I was really tired. We drove into the town at about 9:15 and everything was very dark. The guidebook said to see the center plaza which is all lit up and very bright. Well it wasn't that way now. All the lights were off and when we parked, there were Guarda Civil all around looking at us suspiciously. Marcia stayed in the car while I wandered over to the central Plaza Mayor and all I could see was that the entire plaza was being dug up with bulldozers and there was fencing all around. With no lights on I could barley see the famous statue of Francesco Pizzaro, the man who came from this town and discovered the country of Peru. It was very foreboding, so I walked back and we got out of there quickly. Believe it or not, I did the 57 mile drive at night from Trujillo to Merida in 40 minutes and arriving at 9:30 meant we had to hunt for dinner before things closed. I read in the guide that the restaurant at the Parador here was the best in town so instead of going to our hotel we set the GPS for the Parador (Restaurante Via de la Plata) and got there just in time to be seated for dinner. They were kind enough to call the hotel and let them know we would be there after dinner. The guide was right, the service was excellent and the dinner was characteristically of the Extramadura (es-trah-mah-door-ah) region and wonderful. Marcia had red peppers salada (zorongollo) and special pollo guisado (photo) and I had spaghetti with shellfish and solomillo iberico (roast porco) (photo) with flores frita (photo) for postres (dessert). We had an excellent local tinto and then enjoyed an excellent Irish coffee (surprise). The cheeses (photo) are a specialty in this area but we didn't have any. After finishing our coffees in the bar (because we closed yet another Spanish restaurant), we finally headed to our hotel, Velada Merida on Avda Princesa Sofia, which wasn't all that easy to find but it was a very romantic evening in Merida so we didn't mind. We got to bed at 2 AM.
For some strange reason I woke up at 5:15 AM but fell back to sleep. I woke at 10 AM and by 12:30 I was on my run through the town hoping I would be able to find the Roman bridge (photo) which is still in use. Well my good compass sense was working perfectly and even with construction detours I found it and ran half way across. I came back and found the main square, Plaza de Espa�a with its large fountain and special buildings. On my way back I found the Arch de Trajan (photo) from the Romans. Somewhere in Madrid I lost my two large camcorder batteries after dinner at Hevia. All I had were the 3 tiny ones. We think they must have dropped out of my St. Mary's bag in the cab back to the hotel. I came across a really modern fancy electronics store and he had everything. So I bought a new one of the largest battery and some more video tape. After buying souvenir pins I sat down for a cappuccino across from the Merida Museu (Photo) and waited for Marcia to arrive. I called to have her check out of the hotel and meet me with some clothes. She arrived just as I was talking to Dr. Villanova of Gandia telling me he never got his Hoffer Programs CD in the mail. Marcia parked and had lunch here and then we find out the Roman sites and museum are all closed until 4 PM (A big thing to be careful of traveling in Spain if you don't have a lot of time). So I went off for a walk and found, right in the middle of normal buildings, the Roman Forum remnants and the Templo de Diana (photos). I walked down to the river (Rio Guadiana) again and found the Alcazaba (closed) which was the Moorish fortress in M�rida. By the time I got back I woke Marcia resting in the car and we went to see the ruins which were just about to open. We toured the Coliseum (they call the Anfiteatro) and the Roman Teatro which is the best preserved Roman Theater in Europe (photos). It is really quite spectacular and they even use it today for concerts and special events. We got out of there at 5:15 and went across the street to the Roman Museum which I must say is the best museum I have been in for any purpose. It was designed with the viewer in mind, was beautiful architecturally and was easy to see everything without going back over areas. It was just perfect and the things inside from the Roman era were just wonderful. They had a reconstruction model (photo) of what the Roman city of Merida would have looked like (photo). We really enjoyed the sites here, which we have not seen anywhere else on our travels. I finally looked at the bill from the hotel Marcia had paid and see it was for 2 days and we were there one night. So we drove back to the hotel to complain and after several intermediaries we get the top man to admit it must have been some computer glitch - a $75 glitch. With that fixed, at 6 PM we were on our way to Salamanca to the north. At this point we were only 100 miles from where we had been in southern Portugal last month.
KJH Go To -> NEXT DIARIO #48
Kenneth J. Hoffer, MD
PHOTOS: 47Merida 47MeridaMuseo
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