Friday, May 20, 2016

Camino Mozarabe - Day 5 - Mérida

Just 15 km. An hour plus on the bike. I woke up later today and after breakfast left just before 8:30 am. Mainly on the slip road besides the highway and when it broke off towards the city took the last shot of the olive grove.
Mérida original name was Emerita Augusta, in honor of Emperor Augustus. The capital of Lusitania. Lot's of Roman ruins here. My second time here. First was on the Camino via de la Plata in 2008 from Sevilla to Santiago de Compostela.
This time round I got in from the east. First the Roman race track. Then the San Lazaro aqueduct which I hadn't seen before. Then the gate to the Crypt of Santa Eulalia which is a strange mix of Roman columns.
Down main street to PlazaEspãna and to the old Roman bridge on the river with a statue of Romulus and Remus sucking on a she-wolf.
The albergue is nice along the river park but it is too early to check in. In any case, Michael injured his muscle a couple of days ago and couldn't drive up to Merida to bring the bike back so I have to find another way to send the bike back. Found a bike shop near the train station. Boxed and shipping for 35 euros. Then got a train for Sevilla tomorrow morning and transfer down to Antequera later in the day.
Meantime checked into the albergue looking like a walker. 6 euros. Seems like I am the first one at 12 pm. Albergue has a funny name. Windmill of hot cakes? Drop the backpack and finished retracing the places I've been. Trajan gate. Roman museum I had been the last time (free on Sunday) so skipped that. The colosseum and theatre also had been so no need to spend another 12 euros. The temple of Diana is funny as there is an out of place Spanish house inside. This time round they open up the spaces around it. Eight years ago we can only see it from the front. Finally the Milagros aqueduct the pilgrims walking the Camino via de la Plata will see it as they leave Mérida the next day. After lunch back to the albergue. Those going to Santiago will still have over 700 km to walk. Shower and siesta and time to look for food later.
Went out with the peregrinos that came in from the Camino via de la Plata for dinner. Somehow felt like an outsider as they are a different group. Last thing, the hospitalero gives out badges and wrist band for both the Camino via de la Plata and Mozarabe. Cool souvenir. 

Camino Mozarabe - Day 4 - San Pedro de Mérida

Lots of things happened today. First after a good breakfast with toast with tomato paste/olive oil and coffee I let Javier go first. He is cycling from his home in Granada to Santiago via the Mozarabe then via de la Plata. He would not be going to Merida but 90 km up to Alcuéscar after Don Benito. That will save a bit of time for him and he really don't feel much for Mérida. His bike and gears are more professional but he doesn't take the trail much. I could learn much from his minimalist gears. I don't know how many stages but it is probably (18+10)+(8+6+8)+28 three walking stages? 74 km.

After Campanario, the trail is probably the best in this whole segment. Nice, slight rolling hills, lakes, and the sight of the hillside town of Magacela looms in the horizon. It is like cycling heaven.

After the heaven comes the hell. After taking the picture of the fort leaving Magacela on the left I realized that I am no longer on the camino. It seems that I am to the left of the trail. After 3 km I decided to commit to the trail and see if I can find a trail to the right to join back. Nope. It didn't happen. Not only that the trails stops and I got a bad patch of muddy soil. So bad that the Crocs sandal's soles gave way. Out of the wet patch I found a farmer walking with his dog and ask for directions to rejoin. Then I remove as much mud from my feet and let it dry before putting on my shoes. The Crocs was disposed later. In any case it had been three years and it had serve me well. Finally rejoin the road but had to jump over the lock gate together with the bike as I was in private property. No one seems to be around and the farmer with the dog doesn't seems to be angry at my trespassing so I guess it is all ok.

Don Benito next and it seems like a big place. Sir Benny! A coffee break and found I am on a straight road to Medellin, even for walkers. Surprised to see a bicycle sign. Not much use as the speed limit on this road is 100 km/h.

Medellin is also another hillside town with a fort. Not only that, I think I there is a amphitheater midway (Roman?).

Then the last 28 km through marsh lake and roads besides the highway and here in San Pedro de Mérida at 4 pm. A few kilometers before that, 2 walking pilgrims. Later at the hostal I found that they are Germans. Probably will have dinner them later. Hostal Juan Porro, just outside San Pedro at the truck stop. 24 euros for double bed as they are out of single bed rooms.

Dinner with Christian and Angelika from Koblenz. They were walking the Camino Mozarabe from Malaga instead of Granada and will continue on the via de la Plata after Mérida. Perhaps we will meet again in Mérida tomorrow (just 15 km from here).

After dinner realized that the walkway is wide and since I am on the ground floor I can easily push the bike into the room. Not only that I ad even clean the bike (except the wheels). Wow. Never seen it so clean since day 0.