Friday, June 1, 2012

Ruins, Romans, and the Rock

In our (super trendy, Instagram photo-filled) weekend recap post, we mentioned that we opted for a couple day trips instead of a vacation over the Memorial Day holiday. On Sunday we drove norte of Sevilla to Mérida, a town in Extremadura that used to be occupied by the Romans. By "used to be" we mean circa 2000 years ago, which seems pretty impressive to us. Graham is fairly certain this was his first time seeing Roman ruins, since there's a serious lack of them on the other side of the Atlantic. The whole town of Mérida is full of Roman ruins - an amphitheater (what we consider a "coliseum", where the gladiators fought), theater, circus (for chariot races), aqueducts, bridge, forum, temple of Diana, and many other buildings and houses. 

Mérida was apparently an important city for the Romans and the remnants left behind after a couple millennia are incredible. Fun fact: In the movie Gladiator, Russell Crowe's character is from "south of Trujillo" which would be the open land between Trujillo and the major Roman city of the time - Mérida. So, we went home and watched it, because we're cool like that nerds.

Green: El Puerto de Santa Maria   Blue: Mérida   Red: Trujillo
Are you not entertained?! By our google map?! (Lo siento, we couldn't help ourselves)
After heading north the dia before, we went south on Monday, to Gibraltar. First stop after parking the car, going through passport control, and walking across the border  - fish and chips! 

Spain and Gibraltar are separated by border control and an airport. You have to walk across the runway in order to get to the other side and it periodically closes to let planes take off or land.

We were finally able to use the last of the British pounds that we had been carrying around since our trip to London. Yeah, we went to London, over Thanksgiving, 6 months ago - we are such great, and timely, bloggers.

After lunch, we decided to take a taxi tour up the Rock, since hiking up it on a belly full of fried fish and potatoes, in the sun, seemed like a terrible idea. While we waited for our driver to find a few more people to fill the van, we checked out Trafalgar Cemetery. 

On our taxi tour, we stopped at St. Michael's Cave, the siege tunnels, and several lookout points that gave us great views of the Rock, Spain, and north Africa across the Mediterranean.

Yes, we know, we haven't mentioned the monkeys yet. And how can we talk about Gibraltar without including the famous apes? But seriously people, these apes are no joke, they are everywhere, and they are definitely cheeky monkeys. We know someone (not "know of someone", this isn't an urban legend, it's a true story) who was bitten by one and had to get antibiotic injections. We are serious bloggers though, and couldn't let you miss out on the full experience. So here you go, readers and amigos, for your viewing pleasure:

Other than the apes, there was something else that was everywhere in Gibraltar - the Diamond Jubilee! For you non-followers of the English monarchy, it's the 60th anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II's reign. And Gibraltar appeared to be pretty amped for it.

So, that was our holiday. We exchanged barbecues and crab feasts for fish and chips, American flags for the Union Jack, but it was a good weekend and we're getting more and more used to celebrating holidays in different ways (12 grapes or seeing these guys during Easter, for example). We also learned a few things: 2000 year old ruins are more reliable for getting a good picture of the both of us than your average tourist walking by. When something is really old, black and white sometimes just seems right for a picture. And don't touch the monkey, the monkey only gets to touch you. Words to live by, amigos. Feliz Friday!

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