What a difference 8 hours of sleep makes! Feeling much better today and that was good because we had a lot of ground to cover and a lot of walking to do.
We packed up our stuff and walked the 10 minutes back to our car in the city garage (since the tiny old town had no parking for visitors.) I even got yelled at a little in Spanish by a delivery driver this morning when we came back to load up suitcases for being in his way. haha Meh. whatever. It’s hard to get offended when you only understand half of what they say. I got the jist… you can’t park here. this is for deliveries only. ha I said “solo para dos minutos” -two minutes- and he rolled his eyes and walked away haha He wasn’t wrong… I just didn’t have another option! If you want tourist money, sometimes you have deal with tourist crap. ha
We drove towards Merida, Spain- a very important and strategic old Roman city….and by now, you know how I feel about anything Roman! So it was a good day 🙂
Along the way, we stopped at Los Barruecos- giant megalithic stones with engravings alongside this beautiful lake. It really was a neat protected area with tons of storks. It was a nice little detour off the interstate.
As we came into town we passed alongside the Acueducto de los Milagros (Miracle Aqueduct) that is AMAZINGly preserved….but it was hard to get a non-blurry photo- so here’s a Wikipedia one…just because it’s hard to explain how cool this aqueduct is.
We made a quick stop at the playground because #norah.
Our first site on foot was the Temple of Diana.
It has a Visigoth House built in the middle of it. Long story short, some important guy a long time ago thought he needed to construct his house on the temple foundation and it still stands there! ha
The town trees are all budding and look really cool right now. Other areas are lined with Orange trees. I want to pick and eat one so bad.
We walked to another Roman excavation site, what appeared to be a theater, but I didn’t have good notes on it.
My own little Roman soldier.
Our last major stop in Merida was the site of the Roman amphitheater and the theater. Such well-preserved/reconstructed remains! The theater really was amazing.
After walking around these grounds for a while, we started back across town. It really was a pretty town.
Our last site before getting back to the car was the Roman bridge. The longest Roman bridge- in fact, the longest bridge known in the entire ancient world…. with something like 60 arches. Quite impressive. You can see in the photo that it continues on WAY past the trees on the right side. It used to run into the gate of the Alcazaba- an Arab fortress that was built when the city was conquered by the Arabs in the 800s.
On to the city of Evora we went. There were more Roman ruins there… but we were short on time and parking was an issue. We ended up in a lot outside the city walls at the Aqueduct of Evora
I tried to keep it fun for the girly because we had to wake her up from a nap to walk this city. Zombie. Baby. for sure. ha
We were headed to the Chapel of Bones. The story of this chapel is kind of neat. Basically, in the 1500s… there were over 40 cemeteries around Evora.. and that was valuable land needed to expand the city. So, the monks dug up the bodies and brought them here for relocation. However, instead of hiding them in a mass grave, they lined the walls of this chapel with over 5000 bodies and turned it into a point of solemn reflection where one could come and reflect in the face of death… ponder where their own soul was headed when their bones rested here with the rest. An inscription above the door reads: “Nós ossos que aqui estamos, pelos vossos esperamos,” or: “We bones, are here, waiting for yours.”
I have to say, I like where their heads were at. If there is one thing humans don’t think enough about, it’s just how finite our own existence is on this Earth… and if people though more about their numbered days, they would live a little bit more in each of them instead of on the auto-pilot mode we so often find ourselves. One day, sooner than we would like, our bones join all the others that came before us….Hey, maybe that Chapel did have a reflective property on me 🙂 High five to Franciscan Monks!
After that, it was a trek back to our car through town.
It was time to head to Lisbon. We broke up the drive by stopping at the Almendras Standing stones. Sort of Portugal’s crappy stonehenge. But then again Stonehenge is a crappy stonehenge.,… don’t get me started. (I wasn’t impressed ha)
This area was full of tons of cork trees, most of which had been harvested. Apparently, you can harvest cork and it doesnt kill the tree… who knew?
We continued on to downtown Lisbon where we will stay the next 2 nights. I had read about this amazing “casual-dress seafood mecca” so after parking the car and getting checked in at the Lisbon Marriott (thank you hotel points from last summer’s work travel!) we headed out to the Marques de Palma on a 15 minute walk to see how great it was. It did not disappoint!
First things first, our waiter was so, so good. He saw how terrible our Portuguese was and said “may we converse in English?” OMG of course we can! haha and then explained everything to us in his perfect English. He explained that at this restaurant they bring things to the table automatically for starters….but you only pay for what you eat. If you don’t eat it or want it, you just tell them and they take it away. Clever… and I’m sure that it has gotten them in some trouble with unknowing tourists, because I wouldn’t have known! He brought a sweet crab dip with toasts, Iberico ham and aged sheep cheese along with a bread basket to our table. Of course, we consumed all of it. I think Norah ate the entire bread basket. I looked over at one point she had her eyes closed licking the olive oil off a piece of bread. (Did I mention we’ve turned our sweet child into a zombie this week? ha I hope it gets better)
We asked if they had a seafood platter or any kind of sampler… and our fantastic waiter just said “I will make something up for you” and that was that… ordered without ordering haha Then it arrived. The mother boatload of all fresh seafood. A whole lobster, 2 kinds of prawns, crab legs, barnacles, clams, some sort of conch that I swear the waiter called “bussom” but have no idea what it really was… just an amazing spread.
He also recommended a Vino Verde (green wine)- it’s a Portugal specialty. young fresh Albarino grapes with some fizz…. I drank basically the entire bottle. It was so good.
We sat next to Bonga. Apparently, he’s a folk and semba singer from Angola. We only know this because he had his CD on the table discussing with the guy he was eating with and we saw his face on the cover and Kegan made notes to stalk him later. ha
We were so full but Norah wanted dessert and Kegan actually was disappointed I wasn’t ordering dessert because he kind of wanted some… so we decided to get a menu. The waiter says “do you like chocolate?” -of course I do…so he says “we have the best chocolate cake in the world….See…it says it right there.” (and printed in the menu was “best in the world” beside it.) Now…I sort of have this thing with “best in the world”, “best coffee in town”, “world’s greatest flea market”…. like, if it was the best in the world… you wouldn’t need to advertise it, mmmkay? So, honestly… full bottle of wine Erin said “sure… let’s have that” so that I could have a giggle at the “world’s best chocolate cake”.
Let me tell you. It might have been the world’s best chocolate cake! hahaha It was flourless.. but it had a couple crunchy layers made from very thin meringue. It had a light chocolate mousse. It had ganache… wowza. I’m going to dream about that cake. Kegan tried it and ended up eating half of it because he got dessert envy after tasting it. Norah got a Paw Patrol ice cream cup…and the waiter went and dug her out a pink Skye cup because she said she REALLY wanted Skye. haha It was just overall a fantastic experience. I could not recommend this restaurant more and it was one of my top 10 meals ever.
Tomorrow we explore Lisbon on foot with a very full day….let’s see if we can get it all in!