After a fantastic Seville tapas send off last night, we were ready to head on to the last leg of our adventure. Destination: Madrid. We were here 6 years ago, but the weather was insanely hot and we remember very little of the trip. We need to fly out of here for our connection home, so we wanted to take the opportunity to see it in springtime temperatures, as opposed to the summertime Tandoori oven we remember.


We planned to stop in the small city Mérida on the drive to Madrid, as we had read some interesting facts about its well-preserved Roman ruins. They have a lot of really impressive ruins, but because we were on a tight timeline we only had time to explore the amazing theatre and arena. If we had a few more hours we would've also checked out the remains of a Merida theatreCircus Maximus and the Puente Romano - the longest of all existing Roman bridges. We caught a tiny glimpse of the bridge as we drove into town, but it would've been fun to walk on it and see it up close.


The Roman Theatre was constructed between 15-16 BC (!!) and then renovated between the 1st and 2nd centuries. For some reason that makes me chuckle - how much construction innovation occurred during that time period? Probably a lot, but I still can't imagine what renovations would've been undertaken at that time. The seating capacity is estimated to be 6000 people, and once again I wonder about bathroom facilities. We have all been to a sports game and have seen what happens even when there are 20+ stalls available. Medieval times? Yikes. Then again, they probably didn’t serve 2L drinks.


The amphitheatre is considerably younger than the Roman theatre in that is was constructed in 8 BC.  This theatre was mainly used for gladiator fights, and as we toured the area there were descriptions of the various styles and types of gladiators. Some wore more armour, some wore less - sometimes it was man vs. man, and other times it was man vs. Merida arenabeast. I am so glad I did not have these fights as my main form of entertainment! This arena held 15000 people, which once again is boggling.


We really enjoyed touring the ruins, but we were starving and had to find some lunch before hitting the road. Considering the amount of tourists, there was a surprising lack of restaurants in the area. We happened to see a placard advertising a €10 'menu del dia', and despite the unattractive exterior, we decided to give it a try. I think the place was brand new, and the two guys working it were very keen. It smelled a bit like fresh paint and there weren't any pictures on the walls. You could see the electrical cords coming out of the wall where (I assume) a TV will be attached. They were doing their best with fancy orange napkins artfully arranged on the table and pleasant yellow walls. The only menu available was one in which you picked a first course, a second course, and dessert. A drink was included as well, so for €10 this was quite the deal! There were five choices in each category so you couldn't complain about the lack of options. The food was mediocre at best, but the two guys were really nice and the service was great. I hope they are able to make a go of it!


We continued on our drive without much to report. Hills, trucks, olive trees, gas stations, and the occasional castle on a hill - how ordinary! :) We had a slight time crunch as we needed to pick up the keys to our rental apartment at 5:30, drop off our stuff at our apartment, and then get the car back to the airport for a 7 pm drop-off. It sounds manageable in theory, but we were dealing with tiny one-way roads, lots of car and pedestrian traffic, and absolutely no knowledge of Madrid. But - we did it! The staff at Friendly Rentals were fantastic and very quick and thorough. We found our apartment quickly and easily, and before we knew it we were safely ensconced in our bright and spacious two bed/two bath apartment. Hurray!

We decided to take a break from Spanish cuisine and ate at a Thai place very close to our apartment. Any remnant of the head cold from yesterday was destroyed by the baby chili peppers we ate tonight. Our eyeballs were sweating! The food was really good, but the service left something to be desired. In any case, I think it helped kick my cold a little closer to the curb.


We are going to attempt to get to bed at a reasonable time tonight and perhaps even eat breakfast before noon tomorrow. We have been living in a strange time warp, especially in Seville. Some restaurants didn't even open until after 9 pm, and it wasn't unusual for us to be eating dinner at 10 pm. That obviously pushes everything later, including wake-up times. We only have a few days left and we'd like to make the most of them. We will see if we feel the same when the alarm goes off tomorrow… ;)


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