Friday, July 27, 2018

More of spring's trip in Spain

While we were in Bilbao we got some rather shocking news.  We have friends where the husband is a couple months older than me and the wife a couple months older than my wife.  My wife worked with him back when we lived in the Netherlands back in 1998.  The guy was visiting relatives in Germany and while mountain biking fell and a rock pierced his right eye.  In the US you would be given a prosthetic eye and sent on your way.  Apparently Germany is quite a ways ahead of the US when it comes to eye surgery because they were willing to try to save the eye.  (This happened in April.  Now, almost August, he is still undergoing surgery and healing.)

From Bilbao it was a short drive to Pamplona.  We were careful to inquire before heading there if there was any danger from bulls!  Of course there was none so off we went.  There was the autoroute sort of way and the curvy way; of course we went for the curves.  And we sure got them and the beautiful views that can go with them.  As usual our hotel was on the outskirts of town so when we decided to walk into town we expected a fair hike.  It turned out quite a bit more than that but it was interesting. 

One thing we didn't even know was that there is a huge fort in the middle of the city that has been turned into a park.  The word 'huge' isn't right; it's way more than that.
The photo is of only a tiny portion of the fort but it does give you an idea of the size of the walls.  We walked along one side of the fort headed for an exit from the city walls.  As we were walking we found a lot of people apparently just clustered around this church.
It was only after we'd passed it that we discovered that it is on the pathway of the running of the bulls.  Oh well, it was pretty touristy.  We found our way out of the town and headed back out to the hotel.  We had to cross this bridge, the Puente de la Magdalena.  It is one of the oldest in the city and is, of course, pedestrian only.
All around Pamplona we saw people with walking sticks and backpacks and such.  It turns out that Pamplona is on a walking tour that Catholics can take to gain favor.  Some of these tours are several hundred miles long. 

After tiring ourselves out in Pamplona we headed for Zaragoza.  We arrived on a Monday following a holy day so many things were still closed.  Our first tourist stop was the cathedral, La Basilica del Pilar.  It is absolutely enormous!  Wow.  There were plenty of tourists but it was nice to see people praying as well.  It is clearly a working church.  It is along one side of a paved square and I simply couldn't get far enough away to get the entire cathedral in one photo.
The Romans spent quite a lot of time here so in the middle of the city you find an ampitheatre.  Doesn't every city have one?
We also visited the local castle; the Aljaferia - the Moorish-Christian castle of the kings of Aragon.  This one is kind of interesting because it has been used by so many rulers.  It started out being built by the Moors and just kept being useful for whoever was ruling the area.  It sustained a lot of damage over the years but has been carefully restored. 
Finally we left Zaragoza and headed for Tarragona.  Tarragona is on the Mediterranean Sea and has a LOT of Roman ruins.  Of course there is an ampitheatre - and just near the beach as well.
From the top of the ampitheatre you can look out over the water and see the remains of a fort on the other side of the beach.  Amazing.
It is kind of crazy for me but right across the street were more Roman ruins:  the Circ roma combined with the Pretori roma.  The thing that continues to surprise me is that on the other side of the street is a little shop; it is the most natural thing in the world for these people to live next to a World Heritage Site.  Finally we walked around the old city walls.  In the distance we could see the aquaduct that had moved water.  It is in the center of the photo going almost straight up.  You can also see where some of the stone for all the Roman buildings was quarried.
My wife used her telephoto lens to get a closer view.

Finally we strolled around the old city which is actually just a neighborhood like any other.  All in all we were blown away by the Roman past on display in Tarragona. 

That's it for this time.  Next we'll visit Barcelona where our visit to Spain ends.  Until then, thanks for stopping by!

No comments: