Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sunday 21 February – Seville, Santiponce and Valverde del Camino

Where’s Colin? He’s in a Municipal Aire on the edge of the town of Valverde del Camino at N37º34.871, W6º45.088. There’s a service point here, although all drains (except the toilet emptying one) are blocked.

With Monday looming and plenty of things we still wanted to see in the area it was an early start and, just as soon as Mick had been for a run and showers had been had (electric and water easily available = showers whether we need them or not!), off we went across the river to find the Archeological and Folk Museums.

The police closure of the road that lay between us and our objective was the first indication that something was afoot and we soon worked out what, when we entered the park and found drinks/banana stations being set up: it was the Seville Marathon today.

Drinks/bananas station being set up

Runners coming through the same area later. I slipped on a banana just after taking this photo. You can't be too careful when there are bananas around, you know.

With much to fit in before 3pm (Sunday closing time for the afternoon’s attractions) the plan had been for a very quick look around the two museums, which are both housed in buildings which are quite imposing from outside…

…but that plan went awry when we found the contents of the Folk Museum, in particular, to be far more interesting than expected – especially the exhibit about ceramic tiles.

Dodging past runners, across the road to the Archeological Museum we went (the first museum we’ve been to where our assertions that we are British weren’t believed, and passports had to be produced to gain free entry). There we started with the ‘Prehistorical’ floor, which wasn’t a patch on my benchmark of the excellent museum at Murcia (it was Murcia, wasn’t it? It was a long time ago now!). The visit was redeemed, however, when we got upstairs to an incredible display of roman remains. Alas, by now we were seriously short of time (aside from our plans for the rest of the day, we needed to grab some lunch, fill Colin’s water tank and be out of the car park before our stay exceeded 48 hours), so we almost ran around exhibits that could easily have filled an hour or more, all the time cursing the ‘Monday Problem’ (i.e. the stuff we want to visit is generally closed on Mondays).

Dodging runners again, we made our way back to Colin and over lunch (pausing for a chat with a British chap who popped by) we contemplated what to see this afternoon. It was by now apparent that we only had time for either the monastery or the Roman remains at Santiponce, not both. We chose the remains, which turned out to be no small place, being the in-progress excavations of the Roman town which was the birthplace of Trajan and Hadrian.

The first thing you see after entering the park is one of the outer walls of the huge amphitheatre (although we didn’t actually visit it properly until last), which gave us our first taster that this place was going to be more impressive than we’d thought:

It’s known for the number of almost complete mosaics which have been uncovered there:

And for the amphitheatre. I particularly like this photo, which had a person-free view until the moment I pressed the button, when this child came running out from one of the access points from the tunnel which runs under the stands:

A panoramic shot does, of course, distort things, but viewed on full-screen I think this one works pretty well:

With only ten minutes left before closing time, we visited the exhibition room where Mick watched a bit of a film about the place whilst I skim read the information panels. It being apparent that the place deserved at least another hour, I was just thinking about staying parked where we were overnight, and returning tomorrow, when I re-remembered the Monday Problem. Grrrrrr!

Leaving on the dot of closing time, we concluded that whilst we didn’t know what we’d missed at the monastery, we were happy with our choice, but that it was a shame that it wasn’t open for another hour.

Back in a baking Colin (32.2 degrees inside; must have been about 23, maybe 25, outside) a 60-mile drive was then before us (via a fuel station – expensive at 90.9c/litre this time) which brought us to Valverde, where there is a choice of 10 walking routes available to us (although the only information I have is from the town’s website, which makes finding out about each walk a bit of a painful process), so tomorrow we should be off for a stroll.

(Forgot to mention – the air has been filled with dust/sand today, with a brownish haze hanging over everything. Happily, it’s much better here in Valverde than it was in the Seville area, but Colin's covered.)

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