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September 11 - Visit to Merida and transit to Vila Vicosa

On the bus at 9 with bags aboard. Alex asked us to observe 4 minutes of silence to commemorate 9/11. Then we were off to Merida, o of the most important Roman cities in Iberia. We were met by Pamela again and went first to see the Roman amphitheater and the Roman theater (083-087). Pamela gave good lectures on the ruins and the way of life in roman times. Then we went across the street to the Museo
Nacional de Arte Romano, a beautiful new building by Rafael Moneo Valles. First we went into the crypt where there was a good part of a Roman street that had been uncovered in the building of the museum. Then up into the great hall for a series of fascinating exhibits, beautifully displayed. The gift shop was weak, however. After that we walked up through town on our way to lunch at the local parador. On the way we passed the ruins of the Temple of Diana (101), which had been appropriated by a Spanish nobleman to make the front facade of his palace. We had a good lunch (melon soup, lamb stew, cake/ice cream/meringue) and then were on our way to Portugal by way of Badajos. First we stopped outside town (Merida) to see the Roman aqueduct (02), a roman bridge (103), and a modern bridge (104).

We got to Vila vicosa to find the Pousada D. Joao IV, which turned out to be the star of all the hotels on our trip. It is huge, a former convent, and incredibly furnished and decorated. BMB took a quick nap and FDB went exploring. After finding the pool he took a swim. The pool is wonderful but the water was cold. BMB was still getting lost three days later. The room was great, and we again got a best room by being up in the alphabet. Our patio was 9 ft x 30 ft and served beautifully for drying laundry in the hot sun. After a while we went to have a glass of wine at the patio shown in 116 and then we went in to a very good dinner (tapas, vegetable soup, roast pork, sherbet in a frozen orange). After dinner there was a piano recital (show tunes, etc.) in the lounge (117). Very pleasant.

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