Stranded In The Southland

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Merida, and Internet Connectivity Again!

we took a couple of busses from Toledo to Merida, a small
town near the Porteguese [sp] border that has the best Roman ruins
in Spain. Poor M. had to work the phones to figure out when the
bus left, and when and where we had to catch the next bus, and when
we got to the station, everything was screwed up and different.
Fortunately, it all worked out, and we made it with not too much stress.

We've got a very pleasant hotel room, chock full o' tile, with the
most complex shower I've ever seen in my life. The shower has eight
nozzles pointing at your trunk, plus another on a hose at your feet,
plus the regular one pointing down. For all that, it was a fine shower,
although probably not worth all the extra plumbing difficulties of
driving the extra nine shower heads.

The Roman ruins are really fun. There is an amphitheature which used
to hold aorund 6,000 people, and a colloseum which used to hold 30,000.
Yow. It is amazing to think that we're walking around in something
2,000 years old! Of course, it isn't in great shape, as generations
of folks have salvaged rock from the two buildings, but there was
enough there to make my jaw drop.

We saw the 700m long Roman bridge on our way into town (in use as
*the* bridge into town until 1993!), but I'm really looking forward
to an opportunity to walk around on it and really check it out.

The whole town is chock full o' ruins of various sorts (Roman, Visagothic,
Muslim, and Christian); at one point we were strolling down a street
lined with shops and came upon the remains of a Roman temple with
40-foot pillars! And then back to more shops and Internet cafes
(closed, alas).

They really take the afternoon fiesta seriously here. I knew that this
was the case, but didn't realize how far it went. All of the museums and
tourist crap (plus the Internet cafes) are closed from 2PM 'til 4PM
at least. Yow. Considering how hot it is, I guess I shouldn't be
too surprised.

Anyway, it is still fun, and I'm hoping that soon I'll be able to get
on-line and send all this off. We'll see, I guess.

Toledo, Old Stuff and Eating and Drinking

We just spent a couple of days in Toledo, which is sort of the seat
of Catholicism in Spain. It's a cute little mediaeval town, with
lots and lots of twisty streets, laid out in an incredibly confusing
lack of pattern.

We had a great time wandering around, getting lost, and getting
found all over again. The actual monuments in the town were somewhat
less interesting.

The cathedral charged five Euros to get in during the morning, but
was fortunately free from 4PM 'til closing. I was sorta pissed about
getting charged just to get into the cathedral, but was okay with
wandering around it in the afternoon.

For the most part, it was kind of like any other European cathedral
built in a roughtly Gothic style, but it had a really cool skylight
that was inserted in the 17th century,

It was amazing to come around the corner, behind the sanctuary,
to find light and wild rococo stylings. The big oval opening
to a dome (which had large windows in its side, providing the
list) was lined with sculpture, some of which was looking
right down at us in the cathedral.

One was even hanging upside down, holding onto the cable supporting
a lamp providing a bit more illumination. Yow, it almost felt post-modern,
the way that the statues were sticking out of the wall and actually
craning their necks to look down at us. All the rest of the statuary
in these kinds of cathedrals seems to ignore the folks in there.
How amazing.

This was the Transparente; hopefully I'll have a chance to look it
up on-line. I didn't get any pictures (cameras were prohibited in
the cathedral), but I really wish I had, as no good postcards were
available of the Transparente. Doh.