Gordon: It was a cold, wet, windy but mercifully short (15 kms) slog into Mérida today. Southern Spain is having it’s coolest April in decades, so we have had a series of very brisk days. Several mornings it was only 3 or 4 degrees, and with strong, fatiguing winds. I’m glad that Ruth convinced me to throw in another warm layer when I was packing for the trip. The good news is that the weather is forecast to change tomorrow, and we should be back to temperatures above 20 degrees Celsius soon.
We decided to have a short walk / ride today so that we would have time to look around Mérida. This was actually a difficult decision, as it means that we will fall behind our pilgrim group by half a day. However, a few 30+ days will reconnect us.
Founded as the Roman city of Emerita Augusta in the first century before the Christian era, this was an important regional Roman city for several centuries. The UNESCO designated ruins include a 780 metre bridge, a theatre, an aqueduct, some temples, and a variety of other ruins.
In light of the unpleasant weather, we chose to visit the Museum of Roman Art. Housed in a purpose built building, this is an astonishing collection of statuary, floor mosaics, and other artifacts. The “crypt” area of the museum displays some in situ house ruins, as well as a section of Roman road.
Mérida is a friendly town, and a number of locals went out of their way to say hello to us. I was a bit flattered when one local asked if I was Italian, as I’ve always associated that nationality with a standard of style several tiers above my own. On the other hand, the ticket seller at the Museum asked if I was “jubilado” or retired (and over the age of 65). I love this term, as I am indeed jubilant to be retired, but it was not flattering to be perceived as older than I am, even if it’s only by five months.