Mérida - Parque Natural de Cornalvo - Sierra Grande de Hornachos

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There were many groups performing some kind of cabaret or singing on the streets of Mérida. Here they are in front of the market place

Evening lights at our overnight place El Mentidero

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Having a late night dinner outside at the Via de la Tapa, our first one was the Jamón Ibérico that is cut off one of these delicious ham legs you can see on the left picture

Pórtico del Foro - Municipal Forum

Diana Temple with a palace built inside in-between the columns!

Aqueduct de los Milagres

Many storks live on the ruins of Aqueduct de los Milagres

The old Roman Bridge over the Guadiana River...

and next to it the new Lusitania Bridge

The Alcazaba walls forced all coming from the East after crossing the Roman Bridge over the Guadiana River to pass through the Alcazaba gates of the fort.

Alcazaba fort and a Roman road

The impressive Roman Theatre

and how it may have looked like in Roman times...

The Amphitheater where gladiator fights were carried out. Apparently it is what most people preferred to see at that time

Some Roman curiosities:

Left: Supposedly the latrines - Right: precursor of our moder speed bumps: speed brakers. The chariots had to slow down to pass between the stones.

Fountain at Plaza de España, Mérida

Aqueduct de los Milagres

This is the track from our parking lot that we took to go to the lake of Cornalvo

Cranes on the road N430 to Obando

08.02.2013 : Drive from Loulé to Mérida (362 km)

We left Loulé at 12:45 am and had our lunch break in Cartaya at the Asian Buffet Restaurant in Cartaya next to the Hiperlámpara shop. It is great and inexpensive for 9 euros per person + drinks, the choice is huge and you can bring your meat and vegetable either to be grilled or prepared on the wok with your favourite sauce. Then we drove from North of Huelva through the Sierra de Aracena to Zafra, we we tried to stay overnight in at the exhibition area; this is actually a very pleasant quiet place, but the warden took us to the place meant specifically for campers and it was a loud place next to a main road and roundabout so that we decided to continue our way although it was getting dark. We then drove to the Parking lot in Mérida next to the “Museu Abierto”, pretty close to all the Roman sites (price 0,02€/min or 18€ for 24 hours). We still had the strength to leave our camper and walk into town and we were surprised to find the whole town in carnival gowns with parades, tents, music etc around the Plaza de España and around. People were dressed in fantastic costumes! At 22:30 we sat down at the Café-Bar Cerveceria “Via de la Tapa” on Calle José Ramón Melida 48, tel. 924 315 859 (cheap and tasty tapas, like jamón ibérico for 1€ with delicious warm bread, setas and trigueros for 2,50€, caña size beer for 1,10€) to have some tapas and a few beers before going to bed at midnight...  N38º55,158’ - W6º20.233’

09.02.2013 : Mérida - Parque Natural de Cornalvo (33 km)

When we woke up this morning there were only 1,5ºC outside! We dressed up really warm to visit all the Roman sites but after a while it got so warm that I had even to take off her panties that she was wearing under her jeans. We visited the Roman theatre and the amphitheatre (both very impressive!), the Alcazaba fort, the Roman bridge over the Guadiana River (yes, the same that we have on the border to Spain down in the Algarve). Walking around town you would bump into other amazing sites, like the Diana Temple, some cult site. We had lunch at the Restaurant Naya next to the one we had been last night and had a good lunch menu. Since yesterday we have some battery problems, it won’t immediately start so we tried to get a 125Ah lorry battery on a Saturday afternoon carnival holiday and, of course, needless to say, we didn’t find any. So we drove to the Aqueduct de los Milagros and the Roman Bridge at the Rio de Albarregas. Then we headed to the Parque Natural de Cornalvo where we arrived a few minutes too late to go to the Centro Interpretativo at Trujillanos and after driving some kilometers found a lovely overnight place called El Mentidero and settled for the night.  N39º1.0097’ - W6º10.666’

10.02.2013 : Parque Natural de Cornalvo - Dehesa Moheda Alta (96 km, 303 m altitude)

After a very quiet night we had our Sunday breakfast -which always includes a boiled egg. We took our bicycles and drove down to the Cornalvo reservoir and then to the Centro de Interpretación of the P.N. de Cornalvo where a very nice man, Raúl, explained us where we could find the cranes. He called his colleague of the Dehesa Moheda Alta Park who told him that there were many over there and he told us that we would probably already see many on our way there as they love to be on the rice fields that are along the road N430. Volker rode back to our camper while I waited for him at the visitor’s centre as I was afraid we would need help to get our battery started. And Volker really had to ask someone that was just there on the parking lot to get our van started. An hour later he got me at the Centro de Interpretación and we headed east to the area we had been told to be interesting. On our way we stopped for a good big tasty lunch at a Restaurant Marialba across the village of Gargáligas (10€ p.p. all included). We actually saw many more cranes pretty close to us during our drive than after we got at the Dehesa Moheda Alta and tried to spot them from all of the three bird observatories. The lady from this Centro de Interpretación, Anabel, gave us some more information material and explained that she also saw spoon bills and black storks yesterday. Tomorrow in the morning we have to get a new battery. N39º9.056’ - W5º29.47’

11.02.2013 : Dehesa Moheda Alta - Sierra Grande de Hornachos (36 km)

Volker took his bicycle this morning and drove to all 3 bird observation lookouts while Julia had a nap. We then managed to get our coach started and drove to Navalvillar de Pela where people sent us to the Cooperativa in town (!); and indeed, along with agricultural subsidies, seeds etc. they had a battery with 120Ah for our camper! (136 euros). We then drove to the area of Sierra Grande de Hornachos where we basically stayed all afternoon and overnight at the Ermida de San Isidro. N38º34.558’ - W6º5.332’

12.02.2013 : Sierra Grande de Hornachos - Loulé (483 km)

After a very quiet night and a lot of mist in the morning the weather cleared up and we went for a walk through the village and then up in the mountain passing by the Fuente de los Moros. We went up to the Mirador with all the antennas at 950 m altitude. Volker took the same way back whereas Julia continued the way to avoid the stony path we had in the middle and we met on the man road (3 hours, about 10 km). Drive home with a stop at the restaurant Grupo LEO in Monesterio (Badajoz) on the A-66 km 730 (very good and cheap: menu with all included 8,5€ p.p. tel. 924 517 048). In Sevilla we went to buy a new mobile telephone for Julia at Worten as hers was broken. Drive home.

Total km: 1010 km

We got a new battery for our camper at the Cooperativa of Navalvillar de Pela!

Cooperativa Navalvillar de Pela

Doesn’t this HDR-Art picture look fabulous? It is the landscape in Sierra Grande de Hornachos. On the left picture is the “normal” picture.

Very good restaurant Marialba where we had lunch

Fuente de los Moros

Hike behind the village of Hornachos

The costumes were pretty amazing, all handmade with the craziest materials

Interesting colours produced by the lychens on the stone